Published On: Fri, May 5th, 2023

Dog Bite Incidents: Prevention, Liability, and Seeking Legal Assistance

Ah, dogs. Man’s best friend. Until… chomp. You’re bitten. Dog bites can turn a lovely day into a nightmare. 

A Los Angeles personal injury attorney from The Barnes Firm explains, “Navigating the legal landscape after a dog bite can be overwhelming. A skilled attorney can help you understand your rights, determine liability, and recover damages.”

So, how do we prevent these incidents? And if the worst happens, who’s liable, and when should you seek legal assistance? In this article, we’ll explore these questions and more in plain English. Let’s dive in!



Prevention: Tips for Dog Owners and Bystanders

Dog bites are preventable. If you’re a dog owner or an unlucky bystander, there are steps you can take to help lower the risk of bites.

For Dog Owners

As a dog owner, you’re in the driver’s seat. You have the power to minimize dog bite risks. Here’s how:

  • Socialize your pup: Early and often. Expose them to new people, animals, and environments. It’ll help them become well-rounded, confident dogs. And confident dogs are less likely to bite.
  • Use a leash: When out and about, keep your dog on a leash. You’ll have better control, and it’ll show others you’re a responsible owner.
  • Be vigilant in public spaces: Always keep an eye on your dog and be aware of their surroundings when you’re in public areas. This will help you identify potential triggers or hazards and avoid any unwanted encounters.
  • Training is key: Teach your dog basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” It’ll give you more control in tricky situations.
  • Know the signs: Learn to recognize when your dog is feeling stressed or threatened. You’ll be able to intervene before things escalate.
  • Spay or neuter your dog: Studies have shown that spayed and neutered dogs are less likely to bite. Plus, it can have other health and behavioral benefits for your furry friend.
  • Create a safe space: Set up a quiet, comfortable area in your home where your dog can retreat to if they’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

For Bystanders

Dog bites can happen to anyone. You should know how to avoid bites even if you’re not a dog owner. Here’s how:

  • Ask before petting: Always get permission from the owner. They know their dog best.
  • Slow and steady: Approach dogs slowly, and let them sniff you. Quick movements might scare them.
  • Don’t provoke: Avoid teasing or playing rough. It could lead to an unintended bite.
  • Watch the body language: If a dog is growling, baring its teeth, or has its ears pinned back, steer clear. These are signs of aggression.
  • Learn how to react if a dog attacks: In case a dog lunges or tries to bite you, knowing how to protect yourself can minimize injury. For example, placing an object (like a purse or jacket) between you and the dog can help deflect the bite.

Liability: Understanding the Law

So, what happens when a dog bites someone? Who’s liable? In most cases, it’s the dog owner. Why? Because they’re responsible for their dog’s actions. Makes sense, right?

But sometimes, liability isn’t so cut-and-dry. There could be shared responsibility, or the dog owner might not be liable at all. It depends on the circumstances and the laws in your state.

For example, some states have a “one-bite rule.” This means the owner isn’t liable for the first bite, unless they knew the dog was dangerous. On the flip side, other states hold the owner strictly liable for any bite, regardless of the dog’s history.

Seeking Legal Assistance: When to Call a Professional

Dog bites can be traumatic. And when things get messy, it’s time to call in the pros. But when should you call a lawyer? Here are some signs it’s time to seek legal help:

  1. Severe injuries. If the bite resulted in significant injuries, like broken bones or deep lacerations, it’s wise to consult with an attorney. Medical bills can pile up quickly, and you deserve fair compensation.
  2. Permanent damage. A dog bite can sometimes lead to permanent damage, such as scarring or disfigurement. An attorney can help you recover compensation for the long-term impact on your life.
  3. Unclear liability. If it’s unclear who’s at fault or if multiple parties share responsibility, a lawyer can help sort things out and protect your rights.
  4. Negotiating with insurance. Dealing with insurance companies can be a headache. A personal injury attorney can handle negotiations and ensure you receive a fair settlement.

Remember, time is of the essence. Most states have a statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim, so don’t wait too long before seeking legal help.


In conclusion, dog bite incidents can be complex and emotionally charged. By taking preventive measures as dog owners and bystanders, we can reduce the risks. 

And when bites do happen, understanding liability and seeking legal assistance can help you navigate the aftermath. Stay safe and remember knowledge is power when preventing and handling dog bite incidents.

Author: Kayla Rench

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