| Read Time: 4 minutes | Dog Bite
Are Doctors Obligated to Report Dog Bites in CA

Dog bites can cause serious injuries and pose significant health risks. In California, the state enforces certain regulations and guidelines to ensure the public stays safe. One such regulation requires doctors to report a dog bite, no matter how mild or serious the injury. 

If a dog bit you, California law also allows you to recover damages related to your injury. Our attorneys at the Frederick Law Firm assist victims statewide in filing dog bite and attack claims. Contact us today.

Do Doctors Have to Report Dog Bites in California?

Regulations in California require that all people, including doctors, file a report whenever a dog bites a human. Specifically, people should file a report whenever someone is bitten in a “rabies area.” Health Services Directors have called all 58 California counties rabies areas every year since 1987, which means somebody should file a report no matter where the dog bite incident occurred. All dog bites reports should go to the local health department. In some counties, the health department forwards the reports to animal control. A person can submit these reports via fax or online in many counties in California.

Generally, reporting a dog bite requires the following information:

  • Time and place of the incident,
  • Name and contact information of the victim,
  • Name and contact information of the dog owner,
  • Location and description of the wound,
  • Treatment information for the bite, 
  • Name and contact information of the reporting doctor, and
  • Description of the dog (breed, color, size).

If you cannot get the owner’s information, contact local animal control instead with a description of the dog.

Doctors are legally obligated to report dog bites when they provide an evaluation or treatment for the bite. Doctors are often the first point of contact for individuals seeking medical attention after a dog bite, and doctors reporting dog bites contribute valuable data to public health agencies. Individuals who suffer a dog bite can also file a report themselves. By reporting the incident, you could prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.  

Personal Injury Cases for Dog Bites in California

Some states do not impose liability for dog bites unless the owner knows that the dog previously bit someone or is otherwise dangerous. However, California does not follow this rule. Thanks to favorable laws protecting the victims of dog bites, owners are held strictly liable for the injuries caused by their dogs regardless of whether the owner was aware of any aggressive tendencies. Because the law allows personal injury claims for dog bites, if you were bitten by a dog, you can pursue legal action against the dog owner to seek compensation.

To establish a personal injury case, you must demonstrate that you were lawfully present where the bite occurred, that the dog bit you, and that you suffered injuries. 

A victim may also be able to file a negligence claim if a dog caused injury without biting them—for example, if a dog caused the victim to fall. In this case, the victim has the burden of proving that the dog’s owner did not use reasonable care and that their unreasonable actions caused an injury to occur.

Additionally, if a dog has previously bitten someone, California law imposes an extra duty on the animal’s owner. The owner must take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from biting others. If you get bitten by a potentially dangerous or vicious dog and the owner has not taken extra precautions to keep the dog from hurting others, your case against the owner is even stronger.

Common Dog Bite Injuries 

Although most dog bite victims don’t suffer significant injuries, some of the common injuries victims could suffer are:

  • Broken or punctured skin,
  • Broken bones,
  • Eye injuries,
  • Head and neck injuries,
  • Face injuries,
  • Scarring,
  • Nerve damage,
  • Tissue damage, and
  • Emotional damage.

Although pit bulls seem to get the most grief about being dangerous, they are on the weaker side when it comes to bite strength. The dogs with the strongest bites that can inflict the most damage include:

  • Kangal (strongest bite force of 743 PSI),
  • Bandog dog (bite force 730 PSI),
  • Cane corso (bite force 700 PSI),
  • Dogue de Bordeaux (556 PSI), and
  • Rottweiler (328 PSI).

After a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the dog owner’s insurance company. Compensation may include reimbursement for:

  • Medical expenses,
  • Physical or vocational therapy expenses,
  • Psychological counseling for any mental health effects,
  • Lost wages,
  • Lost earning capacity,
  • Scarring and disfigurement,
  • Pain and suffering, and
  • Loss of the use of a limb or amputation.

After an injury or attack, gathering evidence to support your case is important. Relevant evidence includes medical records, photographs of the injuries, and any other relevant documentation to support your case.  

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Case?

When it comes to personal injury cases, hiring a lawyer is your best bet for maximizing potential compensation. A lawyer will help investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury, including finding the identity of the owner or the party responsible for the dog. 

Additionally, a lawyer will help determine whether the other party has any defenses against your injury claim. For example, those who work directly with dogs—such as veterinarians, pet sitters, dog trainers and dog groomers—may be unable to receive compensation for injuries because that risk is inherent in their occupations. However, exceptions apply, and a lawyer will know if they apply to your case. 

A lawyer will work with the insurance company to negotiate a compensation amount appropriate to your losses. If negotiation isn’t successful, your lawyer will advocate for you in court, if necessary. 

A California Attorney Who Knows Dog Bite Cases

If a dog injured you, don’t try to handle the case alone. Chances are, the insurance company won’t offer you what your case is worth. At the Frederick law firm, we are compassionate lawyers who want to fight for your rights. We have over 40 years of experience helping injury victims recover compensation for their injuries. Let us fight to get you financial compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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