California Leads the Nation in Dog Bites

California Leads the Nation in Dog Bites

November 1, 2018

Ellis Law Corporation

Personal Injury

Roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur every year across the United States. Although dog bites may sound like a minor injury, 20% of them require a medical visit. They can cause severe injury and infection. Some dog bites can be fatal.

Unfortunately, California is the number 1 state for dog bites in the country, according to a report by insurer State Farm on the number of claims filed in 2017. State Farm registered 488 claims for dog bites last year, or more than 1.33 each day in our state. California was responsible for close to 14% of the U.S. dog bite total.

One-third of homeowner liability claims are for dog bites

Illinois, the #2 dog bite state in the nation, registered only 318 claims. So not only was California the leader, but we were way out ahead. Ohio, the #3 state, had just 226 claims, less than half of California’s.

Not only that, but roughly 33% of all homeowner liability claims are submitted for dog bites.

An estimated 50% of all dog bite victims are children – and children are much more likely to be seriously injured by a dog bite than adults. Senior citizens are also frequently the target of dog bites.

Some occupations are very vulnerable as well. Postal mail carriers, for example, are attacked by dogs much more frequently than other occupations. In fact, postal mail carriers in Los Angeles alone receive more bites than they do in any other city in our state.

California dog bite law

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, it’s a good idea to know what California law about them, because the burden of proof is very different than it is for most injury cases.

In personal injury cases, generally, the person injured must prove that the situation was dangerous, and that the party with a “duty of care” — responsible for maintaining safety — knew or should have known that it was unsafe.

But people who have been injured by a dog bite do not have to provide proof of any of that in the case of a dog bite. California operates under a strict liability law with regard to dog bites. If you were bitten (rather than attacked and hurt in another way), and were legally on the property the dog was on, the dog’s owner can be liable for your injuries.

There are some exceptions. If a dog knocks down a child, for instance, potential injuries are not covered under strict liability, because that applies only to biting injuries. Similarly, a person unlawfully on the premises – say, cutting across a lawn where the dog was housed – is not covered under strict liability. Postal mail carriers, by the way, are considered to be legally on public property, because they are carrying out an authorized public duty.

In cases of non-biting injuries, though, injured parties could sue for damages by proving negligence: that the owner has a duty of care toward the public, knew the dog was or could be dangerous, and failed to provide safety by leashing or otherwise restraining the dog.

Consult a dog bite injury lawyer in southern California

Dog bite injuries can literally be just around the next corner in Los Angeles, despite all your attempts to protect yourself and your family. But California law is on the side of plaintiffs in dog bite cases when owner negligence is a contributing factor.

The Ellis Law Firm has been handling dog bite injury cases in southern California for over two decades. We can help you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries, and we charge no fees unless we win your case. Call 310-641-3335 today for a free, no-obligation case review with an experienced dog attack injury lawyer in Los Angeles.

Our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys win 99% of the cases we take on!

Additional Resources:

  1. Clark, Lucas and Abbie Bennett. “California is the No. 1 state for dog-bite injuries, State Farm says.” The Tribune. May 11, 2018.
  2. Dog Bite Prevention. American Veterinary Medical Association.