By Dale Gribow

The prevalence, seriousness, and cost of dog bites are all on the rise in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Factors that cause a dog to bite are: training, breed, health, socialization, provocation, aggression, heredity and the behavior of surrounding humans.

It is common sense that an owner has a legal responsibility to ensure that an unprovoked dog is safe and will not attack passersby’s regardless of a dog’s nature and upbringing. If any of our Coachella Valley Weekly readers or their friends been bitten by a dog they should seek medical attention ASAP. Then they should contact a local accident attorney that has successfully handled these cases for years.


Many years ago California had a one bite statue that only imposed liability on the owner if the dog had already bitten one person. Today we have Strict Liability. Thus if a dog bites someone then the owner is liable….even if it is the first time the dog has ever bitten anyone. The dog’s owner has a duty control his/her dog at all times. A breach of that duty imposes civil liability (DAMAGES) for any injuries suffered by a victim.

An experienced Dog Bite attorney will not only encourage their client to immediately go to the ER or Urgent Care but to also have the bite examined by a plastic surgeon who knows how to prepare a med/legal report. The report should estimate the cost of future medicals and the chances of scaring. An experienced attorney will also suggest a psychologist if the client has developed a phobia about dogs or nightmares of the incident etc.

The injury is only part of what a good attorney should address. When I had a 30 person law firm I always taught my new lawyers that documentation is the name of the game. This would include not only treatment with the appropriate doctors but pictures of the bite/scar and a client’s daily diary explaining how this bite affected the client’s life. Did the victim cancel a vacation? Cancel a party they were throwing or attending? Having family pictures taken? Was the victim advised by their doctor to stay out of the sun and avoid golf? Many of our neighbors “live for” these sports.

The cost of dog-bite claims for insurers has risen to $479 million in 2011 with the average settlement of $29,396. This increase has been attributed to increasing medical costs and the increased value of settlements, jury awards, and verdicts for plaintiffs which have outpaced inflation and the value of auto accident cases. Thus many insurance homeowners policies now exclude certain breeds of dogs from coverage which means you must check your homeowners policy to be sure you are covered.

Remember, When you drink don’t “Pull a Bieber” and get behind the wheel and have an accident (whether it is your fault or not) or get arrested for a DUI:



“TOP LAWYER” – Palm Springs Life (DUI/ACCIDENT) 2011-2017

“TOP LAWYER” – Inland Empire Magazine Nov., 2016

AVVO Perfect 10.0 Peer Rating

Legal Eagle “Best and Brightest Legal Minds” by Palm Springs Life- June 2016

“Top 100 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Attorneys” in Southern California, (The National Advocacy for DUI attorneys in Southern California-Oct 2016).

“Preeminent” Rating- Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory

“Best Attorneys of America” Rue, (Limited to Top 100 Attorneys/State)

Weekly Legal Talk Show (ACCIDENTALLY YOURS) and Legal Columnist: LA and PS / Society Columnist Desert Sun

Gribow has been Man of the Year 7 times including the City of Palm Desert and the City of Hope with Dale Gribow Day declared 4 times. Gribow hosted the “Accidentally Yours” radio show discussing auto accidents and dog bite cases that he has handled for over 30 years.

If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact: Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or

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