California Dog Bite Settlements: What’s the Average in 2024?
  • Jan 03, 2023

California Dog Bite Settlements: What’s the Average in 2024?

Updated 12/07/23

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Short answer: We did our research again and have new updated dog bite settlement data for Californians. According to 2022 State Farm data, the average dog bite settlement in California is now approximately $79,900. This is up from approximately $59,561 in 2021 or roughly a 34% increase.

Dogs are often considered to be a human’s loyal companion, but they can also pose a serious risk to public safety. Every year, countless individuals in California experience the harmful effects of dog bites, which can result in physical, emotional, and financial damage.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States, with at least 800,000 requiring medical attention.

Dog bites can cause a wide range of injuries, from lacerations and puncture wounds to fractures and disfigurement. In addition to the physical harm, victims of dog bites may also face emotional distress, lost income, medical bills, and other costs related to their injury. To address these damages, many individuals turn to dog bite settlements.

A dog bite settlement is a legal agreement between the victim and either the dog owner’s insurance company or the dog owner themselves. This process aims to compensate the victim for their losses and damages resulting from the dog bite.

The amount of compensation varies widely depending on several factors, including the severity of the injury, medical bills incurred by the victim, and the level of responsibility held by the dog owner.

What is the average dog bite settlement in California?

In 2022, State Farm paid nearly $211 million dollars for over 3,285 dog-related injury claims. The number of claims increased by just 26 claims compared to 2021 data, while the amount paid increased by $49 million dollars, a staggering 30%. In fact, according to data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute, homeowner insurance companies in the US paid a record high of $1.1 billion in 2022 for dog-related injuries.

Note however, that a multitude of factors can significantly affect the final amount awarded in California dog bite settlements. This means that the results in your case may differ from the average dog bite settlement in California.

The severity of the injury sustained, the extent and type of medical treatment required, and the overall damages suffered by the victim are among the most influential. Such damages may include lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other related expenses incurred as a direct result of the dog bite or other dog-related injury.

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California Dog Bite Statistics

The following are important statistics regarding dog bites in California:

  • According to the Wilderness Medical Society, well over 4 million people experience dog bite incidents every year in the United States. Between 1979 and 2005, 279 people were killed in dog bite events.
  • Data from the Insurance Information Institute shows that in 2021, dog bites and other dog-related injuries were responsible for more than a third of all homeowner’s liability claim payouts, totaling $881 million.
  • In 2021, State Farm insurance paid out $120 million in dog-related injury claims in California, the highest of any state in the US. The average insurance payout for dog bite injuries in California is approximately $59,900.
  • With 782 total incidents, Los Angeles was ranked third among a list of 47 cities in the United States when it came to dog attacks against USPS mail carriers.

Note that these statistics only represent reported incidents and that the actual number of dog bite incidents may be higher. Additionally, each case is unique and requires careful consideration of the specific circumstances and legal issues involved.

If you have been bitten by a dog in California, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and if you’re eligible for a California dog bite settlement.

California Dog Bite Settlement Calculator

Looking to calculate what your recent dog bite is worth? Fill out the questions below to get a settlement estimate and start your journey to recovery today.

California dog bite statutes & laws

California has a set of laws, called the “dog bite statutes” that govern dog bite incidents and hold dog owners strictly liable for any injuries their dogs cause. Here’s an overview of some key dog bite laws in California:

  • Strict liability: Under California law, dog owners are strictly liable for any damages caused by their dogs biting another person, regardless of whether the owner knew or should have known the dog was dangerous. This means that the owner is responsible for compensating the victim for damages, including medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
  • “One Bite” Rule: In some states, there is a “one bite” rule that allows dog owners to avoid liability if their dog has never bitten anyone before. However, in California, there is no such rule. Dog owners are liable for the first bite, even if the dog has never shown aggression before.
  • Trespassing exception: California law provides an exception to strict liability for dog owners if the person who was bitten was trespassing on the owner’s property or was committing another illegal act (such as breaking into the owner’s home).
  • Criminal penalties: In addition to civil liability, California law also imposes criminal penalties on dog owners whose dogs cause serious injury or death. If a dog owner knew or should have known that their dog was dangerous and the dog attacks and kills or seriously injures someone, the owner can be charged with a felony and face up to three years in prison.

California’s strict dog bite laws were established to ensure the safety of the general public from dangerous dogs and to hold dog owners liable for any injuries that their pets may inflict. The laws provide specific guidelines for determining responsibility for a dog bite incident and specify the penalties for owners who fail to take the necessary precautions to prevent their dogs from biting.

If you have been bitten by a dog in California, it is crucial to understand your rights and options under the law. Under California’s strict liability dog bite law, a dog owner is liable for any injuries their dog inflicts on another person, regardless of whether the dog has a history of aggression or not.

This means that the victim does not need to prove that the owner was aware of their dog’s dangerous tendencies or that the owner was negligent in any way.

What are some example cases?

There are several different types of dog bite cases/incidents that can occur, including:

  • Unprovoked attacks: These are cases in which a dog attacks someone without any provocation, such as when a dog escapes from its yard and bites someone passing by.
  • Provoked attacks: Provoked attacks occur when a dog bites someone in response to some provocation, such as when someone teases or hits the dog.
  • Owner negligence: These are situations in which a dog owner fails to properly restrain or control their dog, such as allowing the dog to run loose in public or failing to properly secure their yard.
  • Animal control issues: Local animal control authorities fail to take action to protect the public in these incidents, despite the dog in question having a history of aggressive behavior.
  • Service dog attacks: These are cases in which a service dog, such as a guide dog for the blind, bites someone.
  • Dog-on-dog attacks: Dog-on-dog attacks occur when one dog attacks another dog, which can result in significant injuries and veterinary bills for the owner of the injured dog.

When it comes to dog bite cases, each incident may present its own unique set of legal and factual issues that require careful consideration when seeking compensation.

Whether you have been bitten by a dog or your own dog has been attacked, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and understand the potential damages available to you.

An experienced dog bite or personal injury attorney can help you evaluate your case and determine the best course of action to obtain the compensation you deserve. They can also provide guidance on the various legal options available to you, such as filing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance company or pursuing a lawsuit in court.

average dog bite settlement california

Should I use an online dog bite calculator?

Online dog bite calculators may not provide a precise estimate of the compensation that you could be entitled to receive following a dog bite incident. It is important to recognize that dog bite cases can be multifaceted and involve a variety of factors that are unique to each situation, including the extent of medical care required, the severity of the injury, and the long-term effects on a victim’s life.

The most effective approach to determine the possible compensation that you may be eligible to receive following a dog bite incident is to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your locality.

An attorney can examine the specific details of your case, analyze the legal aspects, and assist you in understanding your legal rights and alternatives. Additionally, they can provide you with a realistic estimate of the potential compensation that you may be entitled to based on the damages that you have sustained.

What does a settlement check cover?

A settlement check is a monetary payment issued by the defendant or their insurance company to the plaintiff to settle their claim for damages. The settlement amount is determined based on the severity of the injuries and the extent of the damages incurred by the plaintiff, which may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

The plaintiff may have the option to negotiate the amount of the settlement check with the defendant or their insurance company. If the final settlement amount is not enough to cover the plaintiff’s damages, they may choose to pursue the case in court. Damages in dog bite settlements can include:

  • Medical expenses: This includes the cost of medical treatment, including hospital bills, doctor visits, medications, and therapy.
  • Lost wages: If the plaintiff was unable to work as a result of the injury, the settlement check may include compensation for lost wages and any future lost earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering: This refers to the physical and emotional pain, discomfort, and stress experienced by the plaintiff as a result of the injury.
  • Property damage: If the injury resulted in damage to the plaintiff’s property, the settlement check may include compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement.
  • Other expenses: This can include any other expenses incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the injury, such as travel expenses or home care.

Keep in mind that accepting a settlement check requires the plaintiff to waive their legal claim and prevents them from pursuing further legal action related to the dog bite injury. Before accepting a settlement check, we recommended enlisting the help of a personal injury lawyer to ensure that the amount offered is reasonable and covers all the damages incurred.

Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is advisable to ensure that the settlement is just and that the plaintiff’s rights are safeguarded. An attorney can provide valuable guidance on the fairness of the settlement, including any provisions for future medical treatment or other expenses.

Should I speak with any insurance companies?

If you have been involved in a dog bite incident, it is best to avoid speaking directly with insurance companies without the advice of an experienced injury attorney.

Insurance companies prioritize protecting their own interests and may attempt to settle the case quickly and for the least compensation possible. Remember that insurance adjusters are professionals who handle claims regularly and are trained to extract information from claimants that can be used against them later in the claims process. They may try to make you admit fault or downplay the severity of your injuries.

Instead, we recommend that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and safeguard your rights. An attorney can manage all communication with the insurance company and ensure that your interests are protected throughout the claims process.

If an insurance company contacts you after a dog bite incident, inform them that you are seeking legal representation and direct all further communication to your attorney. This can prevent you from inadvertently saying or doing something that could damage your case.

What Evidence is Needed for My Case?

In order to build a strong case in a dog bite claim, you must gather and preserve as much evidence as possible. The specific evidence needed for your case will depend on the nature of the incident and the extent of your injuries. Some common types of evidence that may be relevant in a dog bite case include:

  • Medical records: These can include hospital records, doctors’ notes, test results, and bills related to the medical treatment you received as a result of the injury.
  • Eyewitness testimony: Statements from individuals who witnessed the incident can provide valuable information about what happened and who was at fault.
  • Photographs and video: Pictures or video footage of the accident scene, injuries, and any property damage can help provide evidence to support your claim.
  • Police reports: If the incident was reported to the police, the police report can provide important information about what happened and who was involved.
  • Expert testimony: Testimony from medical experts or other professionals may be necessary to help establish the extent of your injuries, the amount of damages you suffered, or the cause of the attack.
  • Employment records: If your injuries have affected your ability to work, employment records may be used to establish your earning capacity and potential lost wages.
  • Insurance policies: Insurance policies related to the incident are relevant to your case.

We also recommend seeking medical treatment as soon as possible after a dog bite incident. Seeking medical treatment not only helps to ensure that you receive appropriate care for your injuries, but it can also be important for the success of your claim.

Delaying medical treatment or failing to follow through with recommended treatment can be used against you by the opposing party, who may argue that your injuries are not as severe as claimed or that they were caused by something other than the incident in question. Therefore, seeking prompt and ongoing medical treatment is an essential part of protecting your health and your legal rights in a personal injury case.

Is a dog bite suit worth it?

Whether a dog bite suit is worth pursuing depends on the specific circumstances of the case, including the severity of the injuries, the impact of the injuries on the victim’s life, and the liability of the dog owner or other responsible party.

In some cases, a lawsuit may result in significant dog bite settlements or judgments that can help compensate victims for their injuries and other damages. In other cases, the cost of pursuing the suit may outweigh the potential benefits. Some factors to consider when determining whether a dog bite suit is worth pursuing include:

  • The extent of the injuries: If the injuries are relatively minor and require only minimal medical treatment, it may not be worth pursuing a suit. However, if the injuries are severe and require extensive medical treatment, surgery, or long-term rehabilitation, a suit may be necessary to help cover these costs.
  • The impact of the injuries on the victim’s life: If the injuries have caused significant pain and suffering, emotional distress, or a loss of quality of life, a suit may be necessary to compensate the victim for these damages.
  • Liability: If the dog owner or other responsible party is clearly liable for the incident, a suit may be more likely to result in a favorable outcome.
  • Insurance coverage: If the dog owner has insurance that covers dog bites, it may be possible to settle the case without going to court, which can be less expensive and time-consuming.
  • Legal fees and costs: It’s important to consider the costs associated with pursuing a lawsuit, including legal fees, court costs, and other expenses, and to weigh these against the potential benefits of a successful outcome.

Making the decision to pursue a dog bite lawsuit can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with physical injuries and emotional trauma. However, it’s important to remember that the law is on your side, and holding the owner of the dog accountable can help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can identify the key facts in your situation to maximize your results.

dog bite case settlements

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

If you’ve suffered a dog attack, hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable support throughout the claims process. Not only can they offer legal expertise and guidance, but they can also handle negotiations with insurance companies, prepare and file legal documents, and represent you in court if necessary.

One of the most important roles of a lawyer is to investigate the incident and gather evidence to support your case. This can involve obtaining medical records, police reports, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence relevant to your situation. They can also work with medical experts to assess the extent of your injuries and determine the full extent of damages you are entitled to.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, using a lawyer referral service is an efficient way to find a qualified dog bite attorney to handle your case. By utilizing a reputable referral service, you can save time and effort in your search for a qualified lawyer. These services can connect you with pre-screened attorneys who specialize in dog bite law and have a track record of success.

Many referral services also offer free consultations, which can help you determine whether a particular lawyer is the right fit for you. Ultimately, working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation and justice you are due.

Experienced a dog attack in Los Angeles County? Let us know

LawLinq is a service that can streamline the process of finding the right attorney for your legal needs. Instead of sifting through countless online dog bite resources or asking for recommendations from acquaintances, you can simply complete a brief form and let us take care of the rest. Our network of pre-screened attorneys in the LA area has the skills, experience, and resources needed to handle your dog bite claim.

Not only does LawLinq save you time and effort, but our service also ensures that you find a lawyer who is a good match for your unique needs. Our attorneys are selected based on their track record of delivering high-quality legal services and their commitment to serving clients in the LA area.

Whether you require a lawyer who is knowledgeable in a specific legal area or one who is responsive to your needs, we can help you find the right fit. With LawLinq, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the legal support and guidance you need to achieve the best results in your dog bite case. To get started, please contact us at (855) 997-2558 or fill out a form on our website today.

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