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Dog attacks common in California despite strict liability law

This fall, the Insurance Information Institute reported that dog bites were up five percent across the nation over the year before, and California was seeing the highest number of dog attacks out of all the states.

The Insurance Information Institute reports on animal attacks such as dog bites because it is usually homeowners' or renters' insurance policies that pay for damages.  In fact, in 2013, insurance companies in California paid out $65 million in dog bite claims. The average payout for these claims was $33,700.

As CBS Sacramento reported in October, dog bite claims tend to settle quickly because of California's strict liability law. The law holds that dog owners are always liable for bites or attacks so long as the victim had the right to be where they were.

It doesn't matter if the owner knew that the dog was dangerous or if the attack occurred on the owner's property. Unless the victim was breaking into the dog owner's home, the dog owner is liable for damages stemming from the attack.

Damages stemming from a dog attack often include compensation for medical care and lost wages, and sometimes pain and suffering.

After being bitten or attacked by a dog, people are sometimes hesitant to pursue damages if the owner of the dog is their friend or neighbor. However, it's important to keep in mind that it's typically insurance companies that end up footing the bill and the pet owner usually has little involvement.

However, the claims process doesn't always go smoothly with the dog owner's insurance company. Many insurance companies deny claims and refuse to give dog bite victims the compensation that they deserve. In this situation, it's best to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who will demand a fair settlement on the victim's behalf. 

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