What Is the “One Bite Rule?”

Dogs are fun to be around – most of the time, anyway. While we may all know dogs to be “man’s best friend,” the reality is that dog bite injuries are relatively common in California and throughout the United States. When a person is injured due to a dog bite, they need to know how to recover the compensation they are entitled to for their medical bills, lost wages, and any other out-of-pocket expenses they incur. Jurisdictions throughout this country handled dog bite incidents in a variety of ways, and one of those ways is the “one bite rule.” Here, we want to discuss what this means so you have an understanding of what you need to do if you sustain a dog bite injury in California. Read on and if you have additional questions, speak with an Irvine dog bite lawyer.

Understanding the One Bite Rule

States around the country handled dog bite incidents in a variety of ways, particularly when it comes to determining how victims recover compensation. Many states around the US use a “one bite rule” in these situations.

In a “one bite rule” jurisdiction, a person who sustains an injury caused by a dog bite may only be able to recover compensation from the dog’s owner if it can be proven that the dog has bitten somebody before – hence the name “one bite rule.”

If an injury victim can show that the dog in question has indeed bitten somebody before, then they will likely be able to recover compensation from the dog’s owner. In addition to the one bite rule, some jurisdictions allow victims to recover compensation if the dog has been found to have a propensity for aggression. Proving a dog has a propensity for aggression could include showing that they have bitten somebody before or that they have tried to bite somebody before but not necessarily bitten them.

The one bite rule does tend to work out in favor of the dog owner, more often than not. This type of system typically disadvantages the dog bite injury victim. The good news is that California does not operate under a one bite rule when it comes to dog bites.

California Operates Under a Strict Liability Dog Bite System

In California, we operate under a “strict liability system” when it comes to dog bites. This means that a dog’s owner will be held liable for any damages to a victim if their dog bites somebody, regardless of whether or not the dog has bitten anybody before or shown a propensity for aggression.

In these cases, the dog owner will typically be held liable for the victim’s medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering damages, and more. So long as the injury victim was in a public location or lawfully at a private place when the bite occurred, they will typically be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner.

Who Pays the Compensation?

The vast majority of dog bite injury claims in California are paid out through homeowners insurance settlements. However, that does not mean that the insurance carrier is going to make recovering this compensation easy. First, the injury victim needs to find out whether or not the dog owner’s homeowners insurance does cover the incident. In some cases, dog owners have to opt-in to a specific rider on the insurance policy in order to be covered in these situations. Additionally, some homeowners insurance carriers will not cover certain breeds of dogs.

It may be necessary for a dog bite victim to secure assistance from a skilled attorney who can use their resources to fully investigate the claim, determine liability, and negotiate with aggressive insurance carriers to recover the compensation their client deserves.