California Dog Bite Checklist! What To Do If A Dog Bites You

Updated January 16, 2024
7 min read
California Dog Bite Checklist! What To Do If A Dog Bites You

Every day, people interact with dogs. Most of the time, dogs are friendly companions, but sometimes, things can take a tragic turn. In the United States, over 4.5 million people experience dog bites annually, with more than 800,000 of these attacks requiring medical assistance. Here in this guide, you'll learn vital steps to take if you find yourself victim to a dog bite incident, with a focus on dog bites in California.

In a recent and eye-opening case, the family of a child attacked by a dog initiated a lawsuit against the co-owners of the offending dog. This case, like many others, illuminates the harsh reality of these incidents and stresses the importance of being prepared.

The Dog Bite Checklist: The Immediate Steps To Take

The immediate aftermath of a dog bite can be stressful and chaotic. It's crucial to keep calm and take proactive steps that will help ensure your safety and support any future legal action that may be necessary.

Follow these urgent steps if you were, unfortunately, bitten by a dog:

  • Prioritize your health: Get yourself to safety and provide immediate first aid. Attend to any bleeding, wash the wound with mild soap and water, and immediately seek medical attention.

  • Details matter: If possible, exchange contact information with the dog owner and any witnesses. Ask for proof of the dog's rabies vaccination from the owner.

  • Picture perfect proof: Document the incident by taking pictures of the dog, its surroundings, and any property damage.

  • Report the incident: Inform your local animal control agency about the incident and insist on written documentation.

By completing these tasks, you are safeguarding your health and laying the groundwork for any potential legal action. Remember, gathering as much information as possible increases the chances of a favorable outcome in the future.

Common Defenses in Dog Bite Cases

Owners will likely mount a defense to avoid liability when faced with a lawsuit due to a dog bite incident. Understanding these common defenses can help victims prepare their cases more effectively.

Dog owners often resort to a few common defenses to escape claims of liability, such as:

  • Claiming non-ownership of the dog.

  • Asserting that the victim was trespassing during the incident.

  • Insisting that the dog was harassed or provoked.

  • Saying that the dog didn't bite the individual.

These situations can become complex, and finding an attorney who can untangle your legal knots through a Power of Attorney is crucial. With knowledge of these common defenses, your lawyer can effectively counter these claims and work towards proving the dog owner's liability. Effective legal representation is critical to securing justice and compensation for the victim.

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Reach Out To a Personal Injury Lawyer

Immediately pursuing a legal course of action after a dog bite incident is crucial. Delaying could lead to a more challenging process because, as time passes, evidence becomes more complicated to gather, and the case can become more complex.

The clock is ticking; the statute of limitations in California is two years from the date of the dog bite incident. A qualified lawyer can determine negligence, guide you through your choices, and help maximize your recovery benefits. One's legal paths may include various avenues, such as suing for physical injuries or emotional distress.

Utilizing the expertise of a personal injury lawyer is invariably beneficial. They understand the law, can navigate through court proceedings, and, crucially, they can help you claim the loss and damages you sustained. Always remember a skilled lawyer's involvement often makes a tangible difference between a lost case and a justified compensation.

Your Key Takeaways

Whenever possible, document everything related to the incident. Photos, medical reports, witness statements, and your account can significantly influence any legal proceedings. Possible compensations you may receive include:

  • Coverage of medical expenses.

  • Compensation for lost wages or income.

  • Repair costs for any property damage.

  • Alleviation for physical pain and suffering.

  • Compensation for emotional distress.

Compiling comprehensive documentation of the incident can prove immensely beneficial and potentially lead to a more substantial settlement. The more evidence you have to support your claim, the stronger your case will stand in court.


In the aftermath of a dog bite, know you're not alone. Use the resources available, such as this article and reputable legal assistance, to help you through this challenging experience. Having the proper guidance and support can be instrumental in ensuring your rights are upheld when contemplating what happens if your dog bites someone in California.

Always remember: the goal is to help you find the compensation and justice you deserve after such a traumatic event. Your resilience and professional help can pave your way toward a favorable outcome, making a significant difference in dealing with an unfortunate incident like a dog bite.

Article by
Jessica Anvar
Lemon Law Experts

Jessica Anvar is the Founder and Managing Partner of the Lemon Law Experts. What started off as a one-person solo practice has evolved into one of the largest plaintiff lemon law firms in California.