When a person is bitten by a dog, is the owner liable for doctor and medical bills?

In short, yes. A dog owner, or owner of any animal for that matter, is held responsible (liable) for the injuries caused by the animal behavior. In California, strict liability laws apply to dog bites. 

But the ability to win a "dog-bite lawsuit” varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This is due largely to the legal theory of recovery available within the plaintiff's location. Some courts require the plaintiff to provide evidence that the dog owner knew, or likely should have known, that his or her dog was prone to aggressive behavior. In many jurisdictions, though, the plaintiff (accident victim who is suing the animal owner) only needs to prove negligence on the part of the owner to recover money for the injuries and recovery.

When the plaintiff is an adult the dog owner may provide a defense to the plaintiff's claim that the injured party provoked the dog. Also, they may argue, the plaintiff was given clear warning to stay away from the dog. In some instances, especially if a sign is posted, the owner may be able to avoid some or all liability. This defense is not available though if the plaintiff is a child.

Even after the plaintiff has established that the dog owner is liable for injuries sustained, the plaintiff now has to establish the amount of damages. The plaintiff must introduce evidence how much it cost to treat the injury, and determine amount for doctor and hospital bills. The plaintiff may be able to recover lost wages if the injury keeps the plaintiff from working. The plaintiff is legally entitled to compensation for any permanent disability caused by the dog bite, including compensation for pain and suffering.


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DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Each personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney at the Law Offices of Steven L. Weiner & Associates provides comprehensive legal advice and lawsuit representation to clients across Central, Southern and Northern California, including Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Oakland, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.