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Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason: they provide happiness, loyalty, and companionship. However, behind the fuzzy cuddles and joyous barks hides a reality—dog bites. 

There were 48,596 emergency room visits for dog bites in California in 2022 alone. The state also recorded 28 deaths from dog bites from 2018 to 2022. Plus, 29.4% of fatal dog attacks happen to children ages one to four.

Given the serious threat of dog bites, promptly seeking medical, financial, and legal assistance is crucial. You should hold irresponsible dog owners accountable where possible. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide to navigating dog bite incidents in Orange County, California. Let RMD Law assist you in taking the essential steps when confronted with such situations.

Table of Contents

What Are Dog Bite Injuries?

Dog bite injuries range from minor inconveniences to serious physical harm. The common types include:

  • Superficial wounds – Skin grazes and quick nips are mild forms of dog bites. While you can easily clean and disinfect them with soap and water, they can still leave lasting marks physically and emotionally.
  • Puncture wounds – Deeper and more severe, these injuries may require medical intervention to prevent infections or complications.
  • Diseases – Dog bites can transmit infections and bacteria, like rabies and tetanus, and lead to life-threatening diseases. Attending to this type of injury as soon as possible is crucial.

The impact of dog bite injuries goes beyond physical wounds and scars. It causes emotional distress, potential trauma, and the financial burden of medical bills. It can affect your daily life and change how you look at pets.

9 Common Injuries from a Dog Attack in Orange County

Dog bites can lead to minor to major injuries. Knowing these injuries will help you attend to them with the right next steps.

1. Puncture wounds

Dog bites can cause deep, narrow puncture wounds that can be infected if not properly treated. For instance, a small but deep puncture can introduce bacteria like staphylococcus, pasteurella, or capnocytophaga into the wound, leading to complications.

2. Broken bones

The force of a dog bite can lead to broken bones, particularly in vulnerable parts like the hands, arms, or legs. Depending on the severity of the dog bite-induced fracture, you may need a cast, surgery, or physical therapy.

3. Eye injuries

Bites near the face can lead to eye injuries, ranging from scratches to more severe harm that can affect vision. Some complications include damage to the canaliculi, facial nerve, levator muscle, and lacrimal gland.

4. Scars

Dog bites often leave lasting physical and emotional scars, impacting your self-esteem and psychological well-being. For instance, visible scars on the face can be a constant reminder of the incident.

5. Head and neck injuries

Up to 36% of all dog bites happen in the head and neck region. They not only affect your physical health but also cause long-term consequences, e.g., a bite that causes head trauma can lead to neurological issues.

6. Nerve damage

Deep bites can damage nerves, leading to numbness, weakness, or other neurological issues. Some nerve damage can lead to neurapraxia, axonotmesis, and neurotmesis.

7. Emotional effects

Beyond physical harm, dog bites can cause distress, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder, affecting your well-being. You may develop a fear of dogs or struggle mentally after a severe bite incident.

8. Rabies

Almost all cases of rabies result from the bite of an infected dog. It requires swift medical attention due to the serious concern surrounding rabies transmission after a dog bite.

9. Face injuries

Often the most visible and emotionally impactful, facial injuries from dog bites may require extensive medical intervention and reconstructive surgery. For example, disfigurement from a severe bite may require facial reconstruction.

Orange County Dog Bite and Leash Laws

If you’ve experienced a dog bite, especially due to a negligent owner, it’s essential to know your rights. Here are some of the laws in California, particularly Orange County, that you should note.

  • Owner liability – As per the California Civil Code, the owner is liable for any damages if the dog bites someone in a public place or on their property, regardless of the dog’s previous behavior.
  • State intervention – The state has the authority to euthanize a “dangerous” dog that poses a substantial threat to the public.
  • Restraints – Orange County requires owners to restrain their dogs on private property, using a fence, wall, strong chain, or a leash that doesn’t exceed six feet. The person to handle a big dog on a leash should be the adult owner.

Negligence in an Orange County California Dog Bite Case

Take the following steps early in your case to help establish negligence, strengthening your position as you pursue well-deserved compensation for your injuries.

1. Duty of care

Dog owners must take precautions to prevent their dogs from biting people, like training them or keeping them on a leash in public. Establishing duty of care is relatively straightforward since the law expects owners to take reasonable steps to keep their dogs from causing harm.

2. Breach of duty

Next, you must prove that the dog owner failed to fulfill the duty of care. It can manifest in various ways; for instance, if they knowingly allow their aggressive dog to roam unleashed in a public park and it bites someone.

3. Causation

Causation establishes the link between the dog owner’s breach of duty and your injuries—how their negligence directly led to the bite. You must identify a clear chain of events using evidence like photos or videos of the incident and witness testimonies. The point is to demonstrate that the bite wouldn’t have occurred had the owner taken reasonable precautions to prevent it.

4. Damages

Finally, you must demonstrate the damages you’ve suffered from the dog bite. It can encompass a range of losses, from medical expenses for treatment of injuries to the wages you lost due to time taken off work to recover. It may also include the trauma you suffered during and after the incident.

Do I Have an Orange County Dog Bite Case?

Determining whether a dog bite incident is sufficient to build a case typically involves evaluating the dog’s history of aggressiveness and the owner’s negligence. However, you won’t have to prove negligence in jurisdictions with strict liability laws like Orange County, California. The fact that the dog bit and injured you is enough to secure your claim.

That said, evidence of negligence still helps determine the extent of your damages, so it remains a crucial aspect of your case.

How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in California?

You have two years from the incident date to initiate legal action against the dog owner, per California’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases. This deadline is critical to your case, as failing to take action within two years can result in courts barring your case. So, if a dog bites you, it’s vital to consult with a lawyer and take action ASAP.

Filing a Dog Bite Personal Injury Claim in California

Legal proceedings—even in a dog bite incident—can be complex, and having professional legal advice is beneficial. Here are the steps your lawyer will take to help win your case.

1. Gather evidence and medical documents

Get medical treatment, and make sure to keep all relevant documents that you can use as evidence.

2. Identify the dog owner

Determine who the owner of the dog is. If you’re unsure, you can try to gather information from witnesses or consult public records.

3. Understand the law

Get familiar with California’s dog bite laws. Dog owners are held strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets in a public place or when the victim is lawfully on private property. Be aware of any specific local or county regulations that may apply.

Work with a lawyer where the accident happened so they can assist you with the specific legalities of the location. For example, a dog bites attorney in Irvine can help you compile evidence, file a claim, and even go to court if the incident occurred in the city.

4. Notify the owner

Your attorney will inform the dog owner about the incident and your intention to seek compensation for the injuries caused by their pet. It’s best to do this in writing so you can keep a copy of the notification for your records.

5. File a claim

Prepare and submit a claim with the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company (if applicable) or directly with the owner if they don’t have insurance. Include a demand letter outlining the incident, injuries, medical expenses, and other harm suffered.

6. Negotiate or consider mediation

If any witnesses were present at the time of your dog bite injury in Orange County, make sure to get their contact information. Ask your Orange County dog bites lawyer to help you engage the other party’s insurance company.

7. Go to the small claims court

If negotiation or mediation doesn’t lead to a resolution, your attorney must file a lawsuit for damages in court.

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Dog Bite Claim?

If your injuries are minor and liability is clear, a dog bite claim may only take a few months. However, more complex cases involving severe injuries and disputed liability may take longer to settle, with some even lasting for years. This timeline depends on various factors, including:

  • Severity of your injuries
  • Complexity of negotiations
  • Responsiveness of insurance companies

Gathering evidence and consulting with an attorney ASAP can expedite settlements and make the process less taxing for all parties involved.

How Much Is an Orange County Dog Bite Case Worth?

The average claim for dog bite cases in 2022 was $64,555, but it varies depending on the factors of your case. Severe injuries resulting in sizeable medical costs generally incur more compared to minor cuts, especially if the injury caused you to lose wages or emotional distress. An experienced attorney can help you determine how much compensation you’re entitled to.

What to Do After a Dog Attack

Don’t let a negligent dog owner get away from their liability. Here are the steps you should take after getting injured in a dog bite incident.

1. Seek medical attention immediately

Even seemingly minor bites can lead to infections, so visit a healthcare professional to assess and treat the wound as soon as possible. Seeking medical care also means properly documenting your injuries.

2. Report the incident

Promptly report the incident to the police and animal control authority. A police report is vital for your insurance claim and potential personal injury case. Reporting the dog bite will also prompt authorities to investigate and prevent similar animal attacks.

3.Document the scene

After seeking medical attention and reporting the incident, document the scene where the dog bite occurred. Take photos of the location, any visible injuries, and the dog involved if possible. Thorough documentation offers visual evidence and supporting details that can be valuable during legal proceedings.

4. Consult with an attorney ASAP

It’s advisable to consult with a dog bites attorney as soon as possible. They will help you understand your legal rights, navigate the claims process, and determine potential compensation. Seeking their legal advice early ensures evidence preservation, timely claim filing, and the necessary support for appropriate legal actions.

Remember to get a lawyer within your area so you can meet with them face-to-face and properly discuss your case. For instance, you can hire a dog bites lawyer in Irvine if you live in the county.

Look no further than RMD Law’s dog bites lawyer services for legal support.

Dog Bite Prevention

By practicing the following preventative measures and exercising caution around dogs, you can minimize the likelihood of a dog bite incident and ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

• Be aware of the surroundings

Always be cautious around unleashed animals or unfamiliar dogs. Also, pay attention to those you encounter for signs of aggression, such as:

  • Becoming rigid
  • Guttural barking
  • Lunging forward
  • Snarling
  • Charging

These signs imply that the dog feels threatened, so be on the lookout for them to avoid getting bitten.

• Don't panic when a dog is nearby

Dogs can sense your fear. If you encounter one, remain calm to avoid escalating the situation. Try to maintain a neutral demeanor and avoid sudden movements or creating loud noises that may startle the animal. If a dog approaches you, avoid making eye contact as it may interpret the gesture as a threat.

• Avoid petting the dog without notice

While petting every roaming dog you encounter may be tempting, remember that many aren’t comfortable with strangers. Approaching a dog without warning could trigger their defensive behavior. Before attempting to pet one, walk to the dog slowly and allow it to sniff your hand.

Respecting the dog’s boundaries is crucial to your safety. So, be prepared to back off if the dog shows discomfort or aggression.

• Always ask the owner before petting a dog

If the dog’s owner is nearby, it’s common courtesy to ask for permission. They’re the best judge of their pet’s temperament and can tell you if it’s safe to interact with it. Some dogs may have specific triggers that only the owner is aware of, and approaching without permission could inadvertently provoke an aggressive reaction from the animal.

• Keep an eye on your children at all times

Children may not fully understand dog behaviors, making them particularly vulnerable to dog bites. So, be sure to supervise them closely when they’re around dogs.

Set clear boundaries with their interactions, such as not approaching unfamiliar dogs without permission or disturbing them when eating or sleeping. Also, teach kids the warning signs of an agitated dog and how to safely back away.

Why Do Dogs Attack?

Knowing the reasons behind a dog’s aggression helps reduce the risk of bites while fostering an understanding of these animals.

• Stressful situations

Like humans, dogs also experience stress in certain situations, such as when encountering loud noises, chaotic environments, and unfamiliar surroundings. Some may feel threatened and respond defensively, protecting themselves by growling and biting. Pet owners must stay on top of these triggers to understand how to minimize stress-induced aggression.

• Scared or startled

Fear is a natural response to threats. Sudden movements, loud noises, and unfamiliar people may scare or startle dogs, triggering their fight-or-flight mechanism. The animal may bite as a self-preservation tactic to ward off the perceived threat and protect itself from harm. Learning their fear response can help you avoid triggering aggression in the first place.

• Imminent threat

Dogs are naturally protective and may perceive your actions or behaviors as threats. For instance, they may interpret direct eye contact and sudden movements as signs of aggression or dominance, prompting them to respond defensively. Furthermore, they may feel the need to defend their pack—including human family members—from potential threats.

• Sick, injured, or feeling pain

Dogs in pain or discomfort feel vulnerable and may display defensive behavior to protect themselves. Some conditions might even cause them to experience heightened sensitivity, leading to fight-or-flight responses from the gentlest stimuli. Dog owners must be attentive to their pets’ health to address any issues causing aggressiveness.

Nationwide Dog Bite Fatalities

These facts and figures underscore the importance of responsible dog ownership and legal recourse for victims of dog bites in California.

  • There were 48,596 emergency room visits due to dog bites in California in 2022, a 70% increase since 2005. (The Orange County Register)
  • In California, the death rate from dog bites rose by 70% from 2018 to 2022, with 28 fatalities. (LA Times)
  • Pit bulls were more responsible for severe bites in children than other breeds. (CHOC)
  • The average cost per dog bite claim in the US in 2022 is $64,555, a 31.7% increase from 2021. (III)
  • California had 1,954 dog bite liability claims in 2022—the most significant in the US. (III)
  • The average cost per dog bite claim in California is $78,818. (III)

Danger for Postal Carrier Dog Attacks in California

Postal carriers face a high risk of encountering aggressive dogs while performing their duties. In fact, dogs attacked 5,300 Postal Service employees in 2022 alone, emphasizing the danger of their work.

California had the most incidents at a whopping 675, most of which occurred in Los Angeles (48) and San Diego (39). Texas followed with 404 attacks, while New York had 321. These figures are no surprise—postal carriers regularly visit homes, putting them near dogs that may perceive them as intruders.

Why Work with RMD Law Orange County Dog Bite Lawyers

Seeking medical care right after a dog bite will prevent infections and ensure proper documentation of injuries. Additionally, legal assistance is vital when navigating the complexities of personal injury claims.

If you’ve experienced a dog bite in Orange County, RMD Law offers experienced legal representation. Our team of dog bites lawyers offers tireless advocacy to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Let us guide you through the legal process to safeguard your rights and well-being.

Dog Bites Personal Injury-Related Articles

Read about our success stories from our satisfied clients.

Nas M.
Nas M.
San Jose, CA
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The lawyers at RMD are everything you could want. They are experts in their field, and extremely efficient, thorough and caring. They called me back immediately and spent a substantial amount of time explaining the process to me and quite honestly calming me down. I never felt pressured or felt a salesman vibe. I did get the sense that I was in good hands. They handled everything with minimal stress for me, which was key. Thanks for everything.
Don B.
Don B.
Dana Point, CA
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I have worked with John, a managing partner, and have been very happy with his casual every-man approach to some rather complex issues. He put things in plain, easy to digest language and made me feel comfortable with the process and his handle on the situation. Would definitely recommend.
Clarissa S.
Clarissa S.
San Diego, CA
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John went above and beyond to assist me with my personal injury case after I was involved in a car accident. I spoke to several attorneys regarding my case and although I decided against hiring one due to the minor damages on my car, John was the only attorney I felt like I could trust. I was truly blown away by his kindness, honesty, and willingness to answer all of my questions and go over different options with me. He truly went above and beyond and showed a great amount of compassion and integrity. If I'm ever involved in an accident again, I will not hesitate to call John at RMD Law.
Nicole H.
Nicole H.
Orange, CA
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Through out the entire process, RMD law was super informative and constantly updated me as often as they could! Chelsie and Aria were who I spoke with the most, and they worked around my schedule to ensure I could get the best service possible. I am so grateful for how easy they made this process after my car accident. Thank you team for everything!
Tourie B.
Tourie B.
San Leandro, CA
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Finding and deciding to choose RMD Law was the best decision we could have made. The staff was incredibly nice, supportive, and a pleasure to work with. A big thank you to Kathia for being in constant communication, and getting us the treatment we needed. The process was incredibly easy because of your guidance.

Dog Bites Personal Injury-Related Articles

Knowledge is key when dealing with dog bite injury cases. Check these articles to learn more about what to do in a dog bite accident.

Dog Bites Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

The timeline for settling a dog bite claim can vary based on factors like the severity of injuries, negotiation complexities, and insurance company responsiveness. Some cases settle within a few months, while others may take longer. Promptly gathering evidence and consulting with a dog bites lawyer can expedite the process.

In 2022, the average insurance claim cost for dog bites was $64,555. However, note that settlements vary per case. Medical expenses, lost wages, vet bills, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, emotional distress, and other factors can affect the value of your dog bite injury claim. 

Hire an Orange County dog bites attorney to assess the specific details and determine a fair and comprehensive compensation amount.

California’s statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit is two years from the incident date. Taking immediate action to preserve evidence and start a timely legal process is still advisable.

Many dog bite lawyers, including those in Orange County, work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t have to pay upfront; they deduct legal fees from the settlement or court award. Discussing fee structures during the initial consultation with a lawyer is crucial to ensure clarity on potential costs and make informed decisions about pursuing legal representation.

California law enforces Strict Liability for Dog Bite Injuries

Strict Liability means that there is no need to provide proof of fault. That means if a dog bites a person, then there is no court fight over responsibility. The question to ask is simple:

"How much money are you entitled to for your dog bite injuries?"

Our Track Record Of High Settlements Has Changed Lives And Helped Many Of Our Clients Move Forward With Financial Peace Of Mind.


Recently recovered

Over $100,000,000 total recent personal injury wins for our clients. Our dedicated personal injury lawyers are eager to fight for you.


Recent bad-faith settlements

RMD Law found an insurance code violation by the defense insurance company in a dog bite injury case. With smart lawyering, we used the violation to argue that the $100,000 policy limits no longer applied.


Rollover Auto Accident

The insurance company wrongfully refused to pay our client the $100k policy limit in a rollover auto accident. RMD Law refused to take no for an answer, and filed a lawsuit alleging bad faith, ultimately winning millions for our deserving client.


Auto v. Auto Settlement

Confidential bad faith settlement – a negligent driver t-boned our client at a red light resulting in severe spinal injuries. The defendant’s insurance company unreasonably refused to pay the $100K policy limit. RMD Law filed a lawsuit seeking the true value of the case. Policy was opened, and the client settled for an amount vastly higher than the original limits.

RMD Law is dedicated to getting your life back on track.

We care about your recovery. We stake our reputation on it.

Aria Miran, esq.

Nicole Dolle, esq.

John Rajaee, esq.

Yen Quach

Ryan Drakulich, esq.

Ariana Martin, esq.

Aria Miran, esq.

 Aria is a member of the prestigious Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®. He speaks English, Farsi, and Spanish.

Nicole Dolle, esq.

Nicole has settled hundreds of personal injuries claims, known for her professional, honest, and caring approach.

John Rajaee, esq.

John is a former defense lawyer turned award-winning personal injury lawyer. He speaks English and Farsi.

Yen Quach

Associate Attorney Yen Quach started work at RMD Law in 2017 as a paralegal. Injured clients seeking justice from insurance companies can do no better than Yen.


Ryan Drakulich, esq.

Ryan is a caring and experienced litigator. He defended scores of depositions and understands what it takes to move a case in Orange County.

Ariana Martin, esq.

Ariana Martin is one of RMD Law’s skilled personal injury lawyers. She brings a lot of legal experience to the table, having worked previously in the field of insurance defense.

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Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries

As dog bite injury lawyers, we have seen our fair share of cases. There are some breeds that are inherently more dangerous than others, but all breeds of dogs are capable of attacking people and causing injury. If you have been bitten by a dog, regardless of its nature or breed, you are entitled to be compensated:


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