Your Guide to Suing for a Dog Bite in Small Claims Court
Dog bites are more common than people think. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 73 Americans were bitten by a dog in 2019, and 1 in 5 people bitten required medical care.
Although state laws vary throughout the U.S., owners are generally responsible when their dogs injure people. 37 states, including California, are governed by the “strict liability” dog-bite law that makes the owner liable even if the owner didn’t know the pet could be dangerous. Other states follow the “one-bite rule” which only makes the owner liable if they knew their pet could be dangerous.
When Should You Sue For Dog Bites?
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you can choose to settle the case outside of court or pursue a civil lawsuit. You should consider the latter if:
- The dog bite resulted in severe injuries
- The dog owners are disrespectful and refuse to apologize
- You suffered major financial losses from the injury (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.)
- You are unsatisfied with the dog owner’s offer
- Negotiations over out-of-court settlement failed
How to Sue for Dog Bites in Small Claims Court By Yourself
If your damages from the injury are low, consider filing your lawsuit in a small claims court. They are less formal than other courts and you don’t have to hire an attorney. The suing procedure varies by state and here is a general guideline you should follow:
- Ensure your claim qualifies for small claims court, which means that the total amount of your monetary claim needs to be lower than $10,000.
- Write a demand letter to the dog’s owner, in which you will include a description of your injuries and economic and non-economic damages that you have suffered as a result of the dog bite.
- Fill out appropriate court forms that are provided to you.
- File your complaint form against the dog owner at the small claims court, in which you will state the incident that happened, how you expect to settle the matter, and attach evidence to strengthen your case.
- Serve your forms and letter to the dog owner, which means the dog owner will be notified that you are suing them.
- Defend your case in small claims court.
What Can I Expect in Compensation?
If you win your case, you can expect compensation for economic and non-economic damages. The table below provides examples of compensation you should expect.
|Type of Damage||Example||Details|
|Economic Damage||Medical Bills||
|Non-Economic (General) Damage||Pain and Suffering||
Take the Dog Owner to Small Claims Court with DoNotPay
Suing for a dog bite by yourself can be overwhelming if you are still recovering from your injury. Let DoNotPay handle the stress for you! The robot lawyer streamlines the suing process and reduces the procedure into 5 simple steps:
- Go to DoNotPay on any web browser and click the Sue Now product.
- Enter the amount you would like to sue for.
- DoNotPay will write you a professional demand letter to send to the dog’s owner. This allows the owner and you to reach an out-of-court settlement.
- DoNotPay will file the appropriate county documents.
- Attend your court date and use DoNotPay’s script to present your case in court.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
Thousands of users have used the Sue Now product to fight for their rights and get the compensation they deserve. Here are some companies DoNotPay has helped sue over the years:
Not only does DoNotPay help you sue for dog bites, it offers a wide range of accessible services and assists you with:
- Fighting workplace discrimination
- Filing insurance claims
- Notarizing documents
- Reducing property tax
- Making an appointment with the DMV