Have you or someone you love suffered as a result of a dog bite? There are numerous situations in which this may happen, and it can be confusing to understand your rights moving forward. California law does allow for legal action following a dog bite, but there are plenty of things that you need to know about the process. 

Our Los Angeles injury lawyer is well aware of how serious these incidents can be and how they can lead to long-term pain and suffering. Dog bites can lead to a lifetime of trauma, making it essential for you to work to hold the dog owner responsible for their actions. Below, we’ll help you understand some of the alarming statistics regarding dog bites, how the state of California views legal matters involving these actions, what you should do if you suffer a dog bite, the common injuries you may suffer, and the damages you may recover in a dog bite liability case.

Dog Bite Statistics

When you think of the number of dogs in the world, you may think that dog attacks are far and few between. Unfortunately, the numbers are much worse than you may think and these stats show a significant problem when it comes to dog bites throughout the nation. In fact, there’s a 1 in 50 chance that you will suffer a dog bite, and there are 4.7 million dog bites in the United States each year. It’s important to know just how serious dog bites are and which breeds are more prone to bite. Here are some of the alarming numbers you should know about: 


  • In the United States, roughly 1 out of every 5 dog bites leads to infections for the victim.
  • From 2003 to 2019, the average cost of a dog bite claim throughout the nation has increased 134%.
  • Adults who have 2 or more dogs are 5 times more likely to suffer a dog bite than those who don’t have dogs in their home. 
  • In 2019, insurance companies for homeowner’s policies paid out roughly $797 million in dog bite and dog attack claims. 
  • Over 1,000 people receive hospital treatment every day for non-fatal injuries relating to dog bites.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the most dangerous dog breeds and the stats that have been compiled over the years. 

Dog Bite Statistics By Breed

While one of the top dogs that bite the most are chihuahuas, these dogs don’t always bite with enough force to cause significant damage, if any. They’re smaller and thus come with a smaller bite. 

Pit bulls: Responsible for 284 fatalities from 2005 to 2017

Rottweilers: Responsible for 45 fatalities from 2005 to 2017 

German Shepherds: Responsible for 20 fatalities from 2005 to 2017

Huskies: Responsible for 13 fatalities from 2005 to 2017

Doberman Pinschers: Responsible for 6 fatalities from 2005 to 2017

Interestingly enough, dalmatians show up on the list of lowest risk to bite someone, along with pointer, Great Dane, and Pekingese. 

California Dog Bite Law

Under California law, if you suffer an injury as a result of a dog bite, you have specific rights that allow you to pursue compensation from the dog owner under various circumstances. The laws fall under California Civil Code 3342 and dictate who is responsible, in which ways you can pursue compensation, and what you must show in order to recover compensation. It also dictates situations in which the dog who attacks you must be euthanized after the bite. It’s important to recognize how these laws can protect you and your ability to take legal action.

First, we’ll discuss the laws concerning who can be held liable for the dog bite. In pretty much all situations, the dog owner is responsible when his or her dog bites you or your dog. The laws differ, though, in the way these claims are handled. If you’re the victim of a dog bite, you file a lawsuit against the dog owner for damages you sustain including medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. However, if the dog bites your animal, California considers this property damage, and you must file a claim solely for the costs to “repair” your property–or in this case, veterinary bills.

In most situations, your dog bite claim goes through the dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage. It’s important to note that you should have a lawyer on your side during this process because some insurance companies try to limit liability by listing certain breeds amongst those that they do not cover. Essentially, the insurance company would not cover damages caused by breeds they have on their list to exclude from a policy. Typically, these are breeds more prone to attacks. In this case, you should speak with an attorney about your rights if an insurance company refuses to cover the damages.

California law also has a law regarding euthanasia of a dog who attacks someone. The standards usually require euthanasia after a dog bite if the dog has rabies, has attacked and bitten 2 or more people, and they caused serious injury after being raised to attack. If the dog has rabies, no hearing is necessary. However, should the dog not have rabies, there will be a hearing to determine if the dog is a threat to the general public. If, after evidence is presented, the court determines the dog is a risk, they can require that the dog be euthanized.

Strict Liability Rule

California’s strict liability law does not require you to show that the dog has a history of aggression. Unlike other states, you don’t have to show that the dog owner has knowledge that the dog would act aggressively. The dog doesn’t have to have a history of aggression. Strict liability allows for you to simply show that you suffered injuries as a result of the dog bite and that you were on public property or legally on private property.

The spinal cord cross section contains very important parts, including the central canal of the spinal cord and the anterior spinal artery. This is a very vital part of how the spinal nerves function and any injury that is sustained can result in significant problems.

Dog Bite Injury

What Do You Do If a Dog Bites You?

Protecting your health should be a top priority after you suffer injuries in a dog bite. If you find yourself the victim of this traumatic experience, you must take specific steps immediately after the bite to help look after your well-being. Here are some of the things you want to do:


  • First, make sure that you take the time to wash the wound and the surrounding area. Dog’s teeth and paws contain plenty of bacteria, and washing it can help to prevent infection. 
  • Use a clean cloth to put pressure on the area to help slow the bleeding. The more you bleed, the more serious the problems can be. And be sure the cloth is clean to prevent potential infections in the wound. 
  • If you have access to an antibiotic cream, use it on the site of the wound to help fight off possible infections. 
  • Wrap the wound with sterile bandages and work quickly to get to your doctor who will then provide you with instructions that you need to follow. 

Your doctor may request that you change your bandage often to ensure there are no problems with the wound and to ensure infections don’t arise. If you notice that the area of your wound is starting to swell and turn red, and you experience significant pain or a fever, you need to go to the doctor quickly. These are early signs of an infection which can worsen and cause you to endure long-term problems. 

Dog Bite Injury

Types of Injuries from a Dog Bite

It’s unfortunate as a dog is supposed to be man’s best friend, there are severe injuries that can arise as a result of a dog bite. The injuries that you may sustain because of someone else’s dog can be catastrophic, resulting in long-term pain and suffering. It’s important for you to know some of the most common types of injuries that you may sustain in a dog bite. Below, we’ll talk about the injuries and what it can mean for your future.

Deep Puncture Wounds:

Dogs have some of the biggest and sharpest teeth that you will see on a casual animal. You never expect them to bite you, but it can happen. When it does, the dog can sink their large teeth into you so deep it causes significant harm. In some situations, these bites can damage your tendons, muscles, nerves, and more. Of course, it can also lead to significant bleeding, loss of blood, and other problems. 

Facial Scars:

While you never want to think of some of the most severe injuries that arise from a dog bite, there may be some situations in which the dog bites around your face. Even the smallest bite can cause long-term scarring across your face, but the more severe the bite, the bigger the scar. While it may not always come with severe pain, scarring on your face can be emotionally damaging as it messes with your confidence and self-esteem. The more severe dog bites can also require reconstructive surgery.If you have access to an antibiotic cream, use it on the site of the wound to help fight off possible infections. 

Dog Bite Infection:

There are many situations where a dog bite can lead to a severe infection at the site of the bite. Any dog attack can involve the dog’s teeth and paws, both of which are home to many forms of bacteria. If you get an infection at the dog bite wound, it can become red and swollen, tender, and painful. In most situations, infection is more common in the elderly and younger dog bite victims. 


Dog bites and attacks to your face and neck can cause significant disfigurement that impacts your quality of life. Disfigurement can also require significant medical care and numerous procedures to get you to a place where you are happy.

Crush Injuries:

When a dog bites, it applies a significant amount of force and usually, they don’t let go immediately. This force is enough to crush parts of your body and create significant problems. Not only can it lead to puncture wounds, it can cause damage to your muscle and bones under the surface just because of the force. 

Broken Bones:

Broken bones can arise because of the force that a dog has behind his or her bite. However, it can also arise as dogs thrash back and forth once they get a grip on your body. Broken bones can take a significant amount of time to heal, requiring you to undergo numerous medical procedures and endure long-time pain. 

Head Injuries:

A dog bite to your head can be dangerous, as can a situation in which a dog attacks you, biting on your arm, and pulls you to the ground as your head hits the ground. A head injury can result in significant bleeding, but it can also include damage to your skull which can impact another part of your body: your brain. 

Brain Injuries:

Whether the dog’s teeth puncture your skull and into your brain or you hit your head hard enough falling from the dog attack, your brain is at a significant risk of injury. Brain injuries can range from concussions to coma, and often involve cognitive and motor function damage, sensory issues, and more.


Rabies is a viral disease you may contract should the dog that bites you have the virus. It typically starts at the site of the dog bite with some tingling and you may develop a fever. Unfortunately, this disease can cause significant inflammation in your brain and can have fatal results.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

While it may not be physical damage, post-traumatic stress disorder is a real situation that can occur. Typically, PTSD is something most people associate with returning veterans. However, it can happen in any traumatic experience and lead to a significant level of fear moving forward. You may find yourself avoiding dogs completely or freezing up with fear whenever one is nearby. This can impact your quality of life and may be compensable by non-economic damages.

These are some severe injuries and often require significant medical care. Because of these injuries, it’s important for you to pursue legal action against the dog’s owner to help seek compensation, especially when you consider the total costs of medical expenses following a dog bite injury.


Who is Liable in a Dog Bite Attack?

In dog bite attacks, someone can be held liable if they are the owner of the dog, and there are two circumstances that exist. First, you must show that the damages you sustained were the result of a dog attack. Second, you must show that you were bitten while either on public property or if you were lawfully on private property. In these cases, the dog owner would be responsible for any damages the dog causes, including physical injuries and mental trauma.

What is Involved In a What are Common Causes of Dog Attacks?

Proving the full cause of a dog bite can be difficult. However, there are a variety of reasons that dogs commonly attack people. This includes their potential fear of something, they are trying to protect someone or their young, or because they have some kind of sickness. They may even be more aggressive to people or other animals they are unfamiliar with, potentially leading to a bite. Many instances show that a history of aggression can indicate the potential for a dog bite, but with California being a strict liability state, the injured party would not even have to show aggression to hold the owner accountable.

What is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite Case?

In a dog bite case, if you suffer an injury, you’re most likely going to look to pursue compensation for the damages you sustain. Over history, the average settlement of a dog bite case ranges because every case is different. There may be cases where a dog with no aggressive history bites you and causes very minimal damage. The settlement for this case would be much less than a lawsuit in which a dog who has attacked someone before bites you and causes damages that impact your entire life. Some dog bites can lead to nerve damage, making it important to pursue compensation. To give a number on a potential average, though, it roughly amounts to $40,000 for each dog bite claim.

Should I File a Police Report for a Dog Bite?

You don’t have to file a police report to report a dog bite, but California law does require you to report the bite to the local county health officer. Letting an animal control officer know about the attack, however, can help you potentially pursue punitive damages should the investigation prove that the dog was known as dangerous. When you report the dog bite to the county health officer, it does not hold bearing on the potential arrest or conviction of the other dog’s owner. The report is solely to determine if the dog has rabies or not.

What Happens Legally When Your Dog Bites Someone?

California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, which means that if your dog bites someone, you cannot get out of liability simply by claiming that you didn’t know your dog would be aggressive. Even in a situation where your dog has never bitten anyone before, you are responsible. Someone who was bitten by a dog doesn’t even need to show that you failed to prevent the bite. The person your dog bit may go through your homeowner’s insurance to pursue compensation from you. Some policies may exclude liability if you own a certain type of breed. You should also act quickly to get a dog bite defense attorney to defend you.

What Breed has the Most Attacks?

While it’s always difficult to blame a specific breed and not just the owners of the dog, there is one breed that has a significantly heinous reputation when it comes to dog bites. Pit bulls lead the charge as the breed of dog with the most bites, as well as the most severe bites. Once a pit bull strikes, the damage they may impose can lead to catastrophic damages. Second to pit bulls are rottweilers. Together, these two breeds made up roughly 76% of the total fatal dog-related incidents from 2005 to 2017. 

Can I Sue Someone If Their Dog Attacks My Dog?

Typically, California’s dog bite statute manages cases involving dog bites and people who suffer injuries. It doesn’t pertain to cases of dogs biting other dogs because the law considers dogs as personal property. As such, you’re making a claim for damages to your property. In this situation, you can recover costs associated with veterinary bills, which the law considers to be “repairs” to your property. There are some potential restitution charges if the dog owner is convicted of animal cruelty.


At Pirnia Law Group, we make it a priority to help you through some of the most complex legal matters possible. We know that a dog bite can be very difficult for you to overcome, and you need someone on your side to help you through the process to pursue the most favorable outcome possible. With our team on your side, you can feel confident about each step, knowing what to expect, and working to prevent the insurance company from taking advantage of your rights. 

Our Los Angeles injury attorney is ready to stand in your corner. We offer our services on a contingency fee basis because we know you’re already dealing with a financial hardship during this time. We don’t accept payment until we win on your behalf. If we don’t win, you don’t pay. It’s that simple. This not only allows you to get the strong counsel you need, it helps to incentivize our team to go above and beyond to pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. 

If you need to discuss your potential legal options after suffering a dog bite, we offer free consultations. You can get your questions answered and all concerns addressed without making an out-of-pocket payment. This helps to give you the peace of mind you deserve throughout this entire process. Trust that your best interests are our top priority from the moment we meet, and we’re never afraid to stand up when our clients’ rights are at stake.

Call our firm today to speak with a legal professional and get the help you need to pursue justice.