What is the Average Payout for a Dog Bite?

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    The average settlement for a dog bite nationally hovers around the $58,000 mark. However, the final compensation amount that victims may receive varies depending on several factors, including the severity of their injuries, the dog owner’s insurance limits, and many more.

    In 2019, 48 fatalities occurred in the United States as a result of dog bites. These fatalities would result in a wrongful death claim with an expected settlement significantly higher than average. California led the nation here with nine fatalities from dog bites in the same year.Dog Bite Data for 2019

    In 2023, a total of 19,062 liability claims from dog bites and dog-related injuries cost homeowners’ insurers $1.1 billion. California is a strict liability state, which means that the law holds owners liable for dog bites, whether they knew their dog was capable of a bite or not.

    If you get injured in such cases in California, you need a personal injury lawyer experienced in dog bites who will fight for you to get the highest settlement possible. Contact Arash Law today to book a free consultation and learn more about California dog bite law.

    Average Payout For Dog Attacks In The U.S.

    Dog bite claims that lead to personal injury lawsuits now cost America billions annually. The average payout for these claims is $58,545. California has always ranked first in the number of dog bite claims since 2013. Based on the latest data, the state had over 2,000 claims in 2023, with an average dog bite settlement of $68,000.

    According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), these are the average payouts for a dog bite in the top 10 states in America for 2023:

    1. California — Average dog bite payout of $68,125 over 2,104 claims totaling $143.3 million
    2. Florida — Average dog bite payout of $66,615 over 1,532 claims totaling $102.1 million
    3. Texas — Average dog bite payout of $59,925 over 1,040 claims totaling $62.3 million
    4. Michigan — Average dog bite payout of $69,168 over 932 claims totaling $64.5 million
    5. Ohio — Average dog bite payout of $39,119 over 885 claims totaling $34.6 million
    6. Pennsylvania — Average dog bite payout of $53,914 over 857 claims totaling $46.2 million
    7. New York — Average dog bite payout of $66,578 over 851 claims totaling $56.7 million
    8. Illinois — Average dog bite payout of $73,797 over 837 claims totaling $61.8 million
    9. New Jersey — Average dog bite payout of $62,295 over 649 claims totaling $40.4 million
    10. Georgia — Average dog bite payout of $57,572 over 495 claims totaling $28.5 million

    Americans all over the country are receiving compensation for dog bite injuries. In California, if a dog has bitten you, somebody is responsible. Somebody must pay. As you seek the highest compensation possible for your injuries, you may find that working with experienced personal injury lawyers will prove more beneficial than having no legal representation at all. In fact, legally represented victims tend to receive higher settlements.

    Factors That Affect A Dog Bite Settlement

    The actual amount that injured victims may receive differs based on the specific circumstances of each case. In particular, here are the factors that affect a dog bite settlement:

    Nature Of The Attack

    Factors That Affect A Dog Bite Settlement

    Dog bites can happen anywhere, and the events surrounding a dog attack affect the amount of settlement you will receive or the possibility of you receiving any compensation at all.

    California’s strict liability laws mean that owners are held responsible for dog bites. If you get bitten by a dog, no matter how minor your injuries are, you are entitled to recover damages from the owner.

    However, strict liability doesn’t apply to dog attacks where no bite occurred. Additionally, pure comparative negligence laws may apply, meaning the award you can receive may be reduced if the dog owner can prove that your actions provoked their dog to attack you. In such cases, recovering compensation may be more complicated, especially without the help of skilled personal injury attorneys.

    Degree Of Personal Injury And Medical Costs

    Dog bite victims who suffer serious injuries end up receiving higher settlement amounts than those with minor cuts or scratches.

    People can die from a dog bite or complications resulting from one. Infection rates are high, and you might suffer more than you expect after a bite. Without prompt treatment, a simple puncture wound may get infected and develop into sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

    Plastic surgery isn’t uncommon, either. Serious dog attacks can damage facial tissues and require several reconstruction surgeries, especially among children. They may also sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which may require brain surgery and rehabilitation.

    The average hospital stay for a dog bite is longer than that for other injuries and can cost over $18,000. As a result, victims may receive a higher settlement amount for these injuries and all the losses associated with them.

    The Dunbar dog bite scale categorizes dog bites into six levels. Generally, the higher you are on the scale, the greater the settlement you’ll get.

    Levels one to three lead to minor injuries that are easy to treat. They don’t yield a significant settlement amount and usually only require behavioral training for dogs.

    Level four and five attacks are serious cases that cause severe injuries. Aside from taking longer to treat, these injuries often result in more complications. In these cases, the dogs’ behavior may be corrected with training, but euthanasia is typically recommended to prevent further harm.

    A level six attack ends in death for the victim, and euthanasia for the dog is virtually non-negotiable at this point.

    Long-Term Harm

    Dog bites can break bones in ways that, let’s say, the average slip-and-fall accident cannot. They can also lead to long-term nerve, muscle, or tissue damage that impairs your ability to work for life.

    Essentially, you can receive a higher payout if the injuries you sustained leave you with permanent disabilities, such as paralysis, amputation, and a loss of vision or hearing.

    Long-term harm damages can also include compensation for significant pain and suffering. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for example, has long-term consequences that affect how victims live their everyday lives. For instance, canine attacks can leave lasting emotional scars on children, manifesting as a fear of dogs or general anxiety about going outside.

    Lastly, these injuries reduce your capability of providing for yourself and your family, otherwise known as a loss of earning capacity. A permanent injury can also affect your relationship with your spouse and children, entitling you to higher compensation due to a loss of consortium or companionship.

    Dog Owner’s Insurance Policy Limits

    The amount of insurance that the dog owner has may be a factor in how much compensation you recover. However, that does not mean a court cannot award you more than the owner’s insurance limits.

    Homeowners’ insurance kicks in to provide coverage for dog bites, but it can only cover up to the policy’s limits. The dog owner will shoulder any amount beyond that.

    In some cases, the dog owner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover dog bites or excludes the involved dog breed from the coverage, which means that the owner will have to shoulder all the costs.

    Unfortunately, some owners do not have enough assets to fully compensate the dog bite victim. Even if the court decides in your favor, you may end up being unable to receive the money you are owed or receive less than the compensation you should get.

    Legal Representation

    Dog bite claims may seem straightforward, but many victims don’t get the compensation they rightfully deserve. Wanting to get it over with quickly, they end up settling with the owner without consulting a dog bite lawyer first.

    Additionally, some victims get into other accidents while being chased by a dog. They can slip and fall on the sidewalk or get struck by a vehicle while running away. In these cases, their injuries aren’t directly from a dog attack, but victims are still entitled to file a claim against the owner. Such complex cases are best handled by dog bite attorneys who can help victims establish the owner’s liability.

    Seeking legal representation allows victims like you to get maximum compensation for a dog bite injury. Good personal injury lawyers know how the law works and how to tailor their strategies to help you win your claim and recover damages.

    California Dog Bite Law

    California law applies strict liability to dog bites, which means that dog owners are liable when their dogs bite other people, regardless of whether they had reason to believe their dog was vicious. The only exceptions to this law are when the victim was trespassing on private property or when the dog was performing military or police duty at the time of the attack.

    Beware of dog sign inside a private property

    Civil Claims

    The California Civil Code 3342 a. stipulates, “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place…regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

    This means dog owners can not elude liability when they invite you into their home and their dog bites you. They will also be held responsible even if the bite occurred at a dog park, provided that you didn’t provoke the dog.

    Criminal Penalties

    In some cases, criminal penalties could occur. One 2002 California dog attack case led to two lawyers being charged and convicted on murder-related charges after their Presa Canario dogs killed a neighbor.

    The wife received a second-degree murder conviction, and the husband an involuntary manslaughter conviction. It was the third case of its kind in the history of the United States.

    Statute Of Limitations

    If you are filing a California personal injury lawsuit after a dog bite, California Code of Civil Procedure 340 stipulates that you have two years from the date of the incident to do so. There are a few exceptions to this, but seasoned injury lawyers will advise you to file a claim as soon as possible to avoid losing your right to compensation.

    Does California Follow The One-Bite Rule?

    No, and this is because of the strict liability laws observed across the state of California.

    Under the one-bite rule, the victim must first prove that the owner knew of their dog’s aggressive tendencies and was negligent in ensuring the safety of others. The owners will only be held liable if the victim can clearly prove this. So, in a sense, dog owners in some states get a “free pass” for the first bite their dog makes, especially if it has no history of aggression.

    In the Golden State, victims don’t have to prove that the owner had prior knowledge of their dog’s viciousness. However, the following still need to be proven to establish liability:

    • The defendant legally owns the dog that attacked the victim
    • The victim was lawfully on the property and not trespassing during the attack
    • The victim did not provoke the dog prior to the attack

    A dog bite injury lawyer can gather extensive evidence to prove that the dog owner is solely responsible for the bite. If you somehow contributed to the attack in any way, your injury lawyer will ensure you’re not unfairly blamed, maximizing the compensation you can receive.

    Different Types Of Dog Bite Cases

    How do you know if you have a valid claim? You may be entitled to a settlement if a dog bites you in the following scenarios:

    Mail carrier attacked by an unprovoked dog

    • Attacks From An Unprovoked Dog
      You automatically have a valid case if you get attacked without provoking the dog in any way. For example, you were going for a leisurely walk around your neighborhood when someone’s dog came out of nowhere and bit you. It could also be that you were delivering mail to someone’s house when the bite occurred. In both cases, you can emphasize the owner’s negligence in securing the dog with a leash.
    • Attacks From A Service Or Support Dog
      Strict liability applies even to attacks by service or support dogs. These canines are trained to behave a certain way in public places, but even with rigorous training, they may still bite people for some reason.
    • Attacks From A Vicious Dog
      You may be able to file a claim if a previously known vicious dog attacks you, especially if Animal Control has already been notified of the dog’s behavior and didn’t do anything. You also have a valid case against local authorities if the dog that bit you escaped from the pound.

    Can You Sue Even If You Unknowingly Provoked The Dog?

    You can, but the potential compensation you receive may be significantly reduced. For example, you can be considered partially at fault if you get bitten while trying to pet an unfamiliar dog without the owner’s permission.

    Owners are allowed to use provocation as a defense, so they will most likely use it, especially in cases of dog attacks without a bite. They only have to establish that any other dog would have reacted the same way after being provoked.

    If you think you share liability in a dog bite case, you will need the best injury law firm in California to represent you and ensure your rights are protected.

    Common Injuries Resulting From A Dog Bite

    Dog bite injuries can go beyond cuts and punctures from a canine’s teeth. Victims can also fall, break some bones, or hit their heads on the ground.

    Here are the most common dog bite injuries that victims usually suffer from:

    Aside from physical injuries, dog bite victims also suffer emotional distress and psychological issues. For example, many children end up with anxiety and PTSD after a dog attack. These conditions usually have long-term effects, particularly on how they interact with other people and animals. They might need to undergo several sessions of therapy just to overcome their fears and traumas resulting from the dog bite.

    How Does The Settlement Process Work In A Dog Bite Case?

    The settlement process is essentially a bunch of back-and-forth communication between your legal counsel and the dog owner’s legal counsel. The aim of these discussions is to arrive at a settlement before the case goes to court.

    Here’s an overview of how the settlement process works in a dog bite case:

    Receiving An Initial Offer

    You can expect to receive a call from the dog owner’s insurance company as soon as they learn about the incident. They will most likely offer an amount that covers your current medical expenses in relation to the dog attack. However, insurance adjusters won’t factor your future treatments or doctor’s visits into this initial offer.

    It is important to note that when you have accepted a settlement offer from the dog owner, the case is effectively over. You will not be able to sue them again or for more damages. Do not talk about money or settlements with a dog owner when a dog has bitten you until you have spoken with a personal injury attorney. Your dog bite lawyer can handle those conversations for you and fight for what you deserve.

    Negotiating With The Dog Owner’s Side

    If you want to ensure you’re not settling for a lowball offer, seek assistance from a seasoned personal injury lawyer specializing in dog bite cases. They will represent you in negotiations with the dog owner’s insurer and advocate for your best interests.

    They will also protect your rights in these dialogues and ensure you don’t say or do anything that could reduce the value of your claim. You can trust them to do their part in building your case and securing maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.

    Sending A Demand Letter

    If the defense counsel refuses to cooperate or settle, your injury lawyer will send them a demand letter. This letter will outline the current dispute, pointing out its risks to the defendant, especially if you end up filing a lawsuit against them. It can also put pressure on the defense counsel to produce a document necessary for the case, such as the declaration page of the dog owner’s insurance policy.

    The purpose of a demand letter is to show the defendant why they should settle the dispute out of court. Often, the liable parties are more willing to settle during this stage as they want to avoid a costly and time-consuming lawsuit.

    Filing A Lawsuit

    If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer for personal injury cases will proceed to file a lawsuit on your behalf. During this stage, the evidence presented will be examined by the jury or a judge, who will decide on a verdict.

    The defendant is allowed to keep making offers to settle the case as long as the verdict is not out yet. This implies that dog bite cases may be settled at any point before the court announces its decision.

    Receiving The Verdict

    Once the verdict is out, the dog owner is obliged to pay the victim whatever amount the court sets. One thing to note, though, is that it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure the dog owner pays you for your damages after the court decision. Competent injury lawyers can handle this matter for you and make sure you receive the money you are owed.

    What Compensation Can You Recover In A Dog Bite Case?

    In California, the damages that you suffer are the damages that you should get paid. If you survive a dog bite or attack, it can ruin your life for a little while. Many victims are unaware of how much compensation a dog bite claim in California can bring.

    Dog owners do know this, even if you don’t! You should obtain compensation for medical costs, lost wages, or any damages that you have suffered — which you wouldn’t have suffered if a dog didn’t bite you.

    The following damages are examples of what you can claim when you have been bitten or attacked by a dog:

    • Medical costs that are occurring now or are reasonably anticipated in the future
    • Deductibles on health insurance
    • Lost wages
    • Lost earning potential if you are unable to go back to work right away (or at all)
    • Pain and suffering
    • Loss of consortium for you and your family if you or any family members lose affection or companionship after a dog bite injury or fatality
    • Wrongful death

    Although many states have caps on punitive damages and compensatory damages for dog bites, California does not. That means you could get more than the average settlement for a dog bite in a personal injury lawsuit or claim.

    In California, if a dog bites you, you could suffer several potential damages. At Arash Law, we want you to get the highest settlement that you deserve. Contact California’s best injury attorneys or book a consultation online for a free review of your dog bite case. You don’t have to suffer through this or fight alone.

    How To Maximize The Settlement You May Receive From A Dog Bite

    The key to receiving as much settlement as possible from a dog bite case is to act promptly, particularly in seeking medical attention, reporting the attack, and consulting with a dog bite injury attorney. It will also benefit your subsequent claim if you take photos and videos that detail the scene.

    Here’s a closer look at these tips on what to do if a dog bites you:

    Seek Medical Attention

    Doctor treating a dog bite wound

    Your health is your number one priority after a dog attack. Get checked by a doctor as soon as possible because even minor dog bites can easily get infected. If you get bitten by a rabid dog, you need post-exposure prophylaxis as soon as possible.

    Aside from ensuring your safety, seeking immediate medical attention also strengthens your claim. It serves as proof of the severity of the injuries you’ve suffered from the dog attack.

    Report The Attack To Animal Control

    You must report a dog bite to the local authorities immediately, especially if it is a stray dog or if you suspect the dog has rabies. Call the local Animal Control office or health department to inform them of the incident.

    This will prompt them to conduct an investigation of the attack, where they will look into the dog’s vaccination records, collect witness statements, and gather other relevant information. Then, they will compile all their findings in a report, which can help support your claim later on.

    Document The Scene

    Take photos and videos of your injuries, the dog that bit you, and other details on the scene that could show the nature of the attack. You may also obtain security footage of the incident if available.

    Documenting the scene provides insight into what may have happened and who may have been involved. Moreover, it details the condition of your injuries right after the attack. Photographs and video footage help preserve evidence and establish the facts of your case.

    Consult With A Lawyer

    Being represented by an injury attorney ensures your rights are protected throughout the case. The dog owner and their insurance company will take you more seriously if they know you’ve hired a lawyer for your dog bite case.

    Furthermore, California has strict timeframes on personal injury claims. Missing these deadlines could invalidate your claim and prevent you from receiving compensation. By having an injury lawyer handle your claim, you can ensure that all legal requirements are fulfilled within the deadline.

    How Long Does It Take To Receive A Dog Bite Payout?

    Dog bite cases often settle within a few weeks or months. However, claims that develop into lawsuits may take several months or years to resolve.

    The time it takes for you to receive a dog bite payout may be influenced by certain factors, such as the defendant’s willingness to settle, the insurer’s efficiency in processing the payout, and the conclusiveness of the available evidence if the case goes to court.

    You’d receive compensation sooner if the case gets settled out of court. However, even if you just want to get the whole incident over with, you should never accept an offer that’s less than what you deserve. Your lawyer specializing in dog bite cases will work tirelessly to resolve your case as soon as possible while making sure you’re getting the highest possible settlement.

    Evidence Usually Required In A Dog Bite Case

    Like any other personal injury case, a dog bite case requires you to have sufficient evidence to make sure you receive maximum compensation for your damages. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may need the following pieces of evidence:

    Evidence Usually Required In A Dog Bite Case (1)

    • Official Report — An official incident report from the local health department or Animal Control office can provide valuable information on the nature of the dog attack.
    • Witness Statements — Witnesses can help confirm the facts of your case, prove the owner’s liability, and support your claims.
    • Photos & Videos — A photo of your injuries or a video of the aggressive dog can serve as evidence to establish the events surrounding the incident.
    • Medical Documents — Hospital bills and medical records can detail the severity of your injuries, the treatment you’ve received, and the expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the dog bite.
    • Expert Witnesses — Statements or reports from medical specialists, economists, forensic investigators, and other experts can help strengthen your claim.
    • Insurance Policy — You may need a copy of the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy, especially in a lawsuit, to learn about their coverage limits.
    • Employment Records — Payslips and other work-related documents can help you compute the wages you lost while recovering from your injuries.

    A trusted personal injury law firm can handle the legal legwork for you by gathering all relevant evidence to ensure your claim is supported and you have a solid case against the dog owner.

    How Many People Get Bitten By Dogs Every Year?

    Around 4.5 million Americans get bitten by dogs each year. Children are the most at risk for dog bites, often sustaining head and neck injuries in these attacks.

    Almost 50 people were killed by dog bite-related incidents in the United States in 2019. The same study also revealed that 521 Americans died from dog bites across a 15-year period (from 2005 to 2019). Pit bulls (346) and Rottweilers (51) caused 76% of these deaths, which is why some insurers refuse to offer coverage to homeowners who own these dog breeds.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
    What Happens If Your Dog Gets Attacked By Another Dog?

    You can still file a claim against the other dog’s owner, but it will be for property damage instead of a dog bite. California’s dog bite laws only apply to human victims. As far as the law is concerned, dogs are considered property. Unfortunately, a property damage claim wouldn’t result in a significant payout, even if your dog suffers severe injuries. It may not even be enough to cover your dog’s medical bills.

    What Is The 10-Day Rule For Dog Bites?

    The law mandates that a 10-day quarantine period be implemented for dog bites to monitor for symptoms of rabies. Depending on the risk of rabies and applicable local laws, the quarantine period may take place at various locations. This rule should be completed and applied to all types of dogs after an attack, including vaccinated ones, with potential adjustments based on vaccination status.

    Ensure The Maximum Payout Possible With Our California Dog Bite Lawyers

    At Arash Law, we see dog bite victims all the time. California ranks the highest in the country when it comes to dog bite claims, and we’ve handled and won these types of cases for years now. Based on our experience protecting the rights of injured victims, these claims can quickly get complicated once insurance companies get involved. You will need help navigating these discussions when a dog has bitten you.

    Contact California’s best personal injury lawyers to book a free consultation on your dog bite case. You may also call us at (888) 488-1391 to book an appointment and find out if you have a case.

    At Arash Law, we review your case for free and only collect legal fees if we win your case. We will fight for you to ensure that all factors in your life are considered and that you’ll get the highest settlement that you deserve.

    Our team of competent injury lawyers serves clients in San Francisco, Riverside, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. Through our knowledge, skills, and experience, we have collected over 500 million dollars for clients across the state.

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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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