What is the Typical Settlement Amount for a Dog Bite Injury in California?
Surviving a brutal dog attack leaves victims reeling physically and emotionally. As medical bills, lost income, and trauma mount, questions swirl around potential compensation.
What settlement payouts can victims reasonably expect after a dog bite?
Unfortunately, no magic “average payout” formula exists since every dog attack differs based on breed, size, insurance involvement, injury details, negligence disputes, and sheer luck. Still, California law lifts heavy burdens off victims by imposing strict liability on owners – and six and seven-figure settlements are possible.
To help you calculate your potential award, we’ll discuss what impacts a settlement, why some settlements are higher than others, and how an attorney can help you maximize compensation.
How Much Can You Expect From a Dog Bite Settlement?
When a dog attack leads to disfiguring wounds, lengthy medical treatment, or permanent disability, victims reasonably wonder what compensation amount they may receive through a settlement.
However, reliably predicting “average” or “typical” dog bite payouts in California proves challenging for several reasons:
- Each case has unique circumstances surrounding liability, injuries, insurance policies, and more
- Many settlements remain confidential without public reporting
- Extreme severity differences make averages less meaningful
Still, California dog bite victims can educate themselves on potential settlement ranges based on case specifics and prior results. Settlements often escalate to 7 figures for permanent damage.
For example, our client secured a $750,000 settlement after suffering a brutal pitbull attack while dog-sitting. The failure to provide proper handling instructions and intervene in the mauling led to our client’s hand being bitten and disfigured extensively. She required multiple hand surgeries and extensive recovery care before achieving maximum medical healing.
This high settlement amount accurately reflected the severe physical and emotional trauma sustained due to clear negligence. The owner lacked homeowner’s insurance and attempted to deny responsibility, but rigorous legal advocacy secured fair compensation for lost income, medical bills, and lasting disability stemming from bite-related nerve damage.
While every dog bite case is unique, understanding average settlements allows victims to set reasonable expectations.
What Does a Dog Bite Settlement Typically Include?
When a dog attack leaves victims facing staggering medical expenses, lost wages from missed work, pain and suffering, or lasting disabilities, the path toward restitution starts with understanding everything a settlement may include:
Documented Medical Costs
This forms the baseline for any personal injury demand. Keep careful records of every hospital ER bill, ambulance fee, surgery expense, prescription, and appointment copay related to bite care. Also, project future costs around follow-ups.
Track each sick/medical leave day away from work missed due to recovering from bite trauma or undergoing treatment. Calculate the exact wage losses incurred and secure pay stub copies verifying average pay rates.
Pain and Suffering
The mental, emotional, and physical distress stemming from a dog mauling warrants compensation even without income loss or permanent impacts. Quantifying this hinges on case specifics.
If wounds cause a permanent inability to complete prior work duties or activities, compensation for lifetime assistance services proves reasonable.
Dog attack claims are often settled before trial, but attorney time spent documenting damages and negotiating still requires compensation from a share of settlement funds.
Tallying all aspects is critical, as even “smaller” costs like counseling services, travel mileage for care, and damaged personal items deserve inclusion. Being thorough prevents leaving money on the table after experiencing anguish. An attorney can fully advise on completeness.
What Impacts California Dog Bite Settlement Amounts?
Several noteworthy elements influence potential compensation for a dog bite claim. Understanding these key factors allows personal injury lawyers to maximize case value and work to obtain full and fair settlements.
Severity of Injury
More severe dog bite injuries warrant higher financial damages. Compensation accounts for economic losses like medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic suffering.
- Punctures, Lacerations, and Scarring: Even minor bite-related wounds often result in some scarring. Settlement payouts typically begin around $30,000.
- Broken Bones & Infections: If the bite causes fractures or infections requiring surgery, payouts can reach $100,000 to $300,000.
- Emotional Trauma: Post-traumatic stress and other lasting psychological issues can increase non-economic damages. Your counsel can ensure you receive therapy and care.
California Dog Bite Laws
California law applies “strict liability” in dog bite cases per Civil Code § 3342. This doctrine means that owners are financially liable regardless of whether they knew the dog was dangerous. The only exception is if the victim was trespassing or intentionally provoking the animal when attacked.
Homeowners & Renters Insurance
Most dog bite settlements come from the owner’s insurance policy. Standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance includes limited coverage for dog bites. Umbrella policies offer additional liability coverage. But maximum payouts under personal insurance policies often total $300,000 to $500,000.
If the owner of the dog lacks insurance, your lawyer will pursue compensation through other assets and income sources. However, maximum recovery may be lower without an insurance policy.
Documented Expenses & Lost Income
We obtain all medical records, bills, and pay stubs to prove economic losses from a dog bite. Documented financial damages often equate to higher settlements, so victims should safeguard all paperwork related to the dog attack.
Prior Aggressive Behavior
A dog displaying aggressive tendencies or previously biting someone shows the owner was negligent in preventing subsequent attacks. Documenting earlier incidents strengthens strict liability and negligence arguments and often increases settlement value.
Lack of Security Measures
Under California statutes, owners who allow dogs to roam freely or fail to leash or muzzle dangerous breeds face enhanced liability. Also, punitive payouts arise when owners knowingly ignore safety precautions or leash law restrictions.
The Type of Victim
Children attacked by dogs typically warrant higher payouts from insurers or courts when filing injury claims. Their age, smaller size, and vulnerability earn elevated liability attributions against dog owners, allowing bigger damage recovery. Meanwhile, adult plaintiffs may encounter more comparative negligence accusations – like trespassing or provoking the dog before getting bitten.
How Can a California Dog Bite Lawyer Help?
Our experienced dog bite attorneys at Pasternack Injury Law help victims recover fair financial compensation through insurance settlements or favorable jury verdicts from personal injury lawsuits.
By establishing negligence and strict liability, we can file a claim, hold dog owners accountable, and secure payouts that ease medical bills and emotional burdens.
If you or a family member suffered an injury from a dog bite, contact us for a free case review.