We all ask, with COVID 19 is it now safe to go to the park? When we get to the park do we have to worry about Dog Bites because they have not played with other dogs much this year and owners let them roam OFF LEASH.

The prevalence, seriousness, and cost of dog bites are all on the rise in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says about 5 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. Have they interacted with many humans lately?

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 my Coachella Valley Weekly readers, or their friends, has been bitten by a dog, they should seek medical attention ASAP. Then they should contact a local dog bite accident attorney that has successfully handled these cases for years.

Many years ago California had a ONE BITE statute that only imposed liability on the owner, if the dog had already bitten one person in the past. The thinking was that the owner did NOT KNOW his dog bites. Today we have Strict Liability.


Strict liability means if a dog bites someone then the owner is automatically liable….even if it is the first time the dog has ever bitten anyone. The dog’s owner has a duty to 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 encourage their client to immediately go to the ER or Urgent Care. However, we also have our clients 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.

In other words, did the victim cancel a vacation? Cancel a party they were throwing or attending? Cancel family pictures? Was the victim advised by their doctor to stay out of the sun and avoid golf? Many of our CV neighbors “live for” these sports.

The Victim should also stay off Social Media. It is the kiss of death for a doctors report to show all the things the patient should not do and then have pictures of the client doing what they were not supposed to do.

The cost of dog-bite claims for insurers has risen to hundreds of millions of dollars each year, with the average in the $30,000 range. This increase has been attributed to the increased medical costs and the increased value of settlements, jury awards, and verdicts for plaintiffs, which has 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.

Suggestion for future article? Call 760-837-7500 or dale@dalegribowlaw.com.


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