San Jose Dog Bite Attorney


Whether you are out for a run at Alum Rock Park or just walking around the block of your own San Jose neighborhood, it’s a beautiful area to enjoy your pet and the gorgeous climate.

Sadly, dog bites happen even in this sublime setting, often leading to significant medical and legal issues. If you or a loved one was bitten or attacked by a dog, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your medical bills and other losses.

Contact an experienced San Jose dog bite lawyer from Wilshire Law Firm to discuss your case and legal options.

Why Choose a San Jose Dog Bite Attorney From Our Firm?

Wilshire Law Firm’s award-winning team of San Jose personal injury lawyers has the track record and resources to handle any injury claim successfully. 

Wilshire Law Firm

Since opening our doors in 2007, we have recovered more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including dog bite cases.

Our dog bite lawyers bring a deep understanding of local laws and a commitment to justice for victims in San Jose. We provide you with the legal support needed to navigate through the consequences of such cases, seeking fair compensation for medical expenses, emotional distress, and other damages.

Contact us today for your free consultation. Let us guide you through the legal process, allowing you to focus on healing while we advocate for your rights and seek the justice you deserve.

Dunbar Scale of Dog Bites

German Shepherd dog bites a man's hand, illustrating an aggressive canine encounter.

The Dunbar Dog Bite Scale categorizes dog bites into six levels based on the severity of the injury and the dog’s behavior. These levels help us understand the nature of the bite and respond appropriately. 

Here are the six levels of the Dunbar Dog Bite Scale:

Level 1 – Aggressive Behavior: The dog displays aggressive behavior, such as growling, snarling, snapping, or lunging, but there is no actual physical contact or injury to the person or animal.

Level 2 – Minor Injury: The dog contacts the person or animal but causes only minor injuries. These injuries may include scratches or superficial puncture wounds that do not require medical attention.

Level 3 – Superficial Bite: The dog causes a bite that breaks the skin and may cause more extensive bruising or puncture wounds. Medical attention may be required, but the injuries are typically not severe.

Level 4 – Multiple Bites: The dog inflicts multiple bites, deeper puncture wounds, and significant bruising. Medical attention is usually required, and the injuries may be more severe.

Level 5 – Maiming: The dog causes severe injuries that result in maiming but not death. This level may involve the loss of a body part, such as a finger or ear, or severe tissue damage that requires extensive medical treatment.

Level 6 – Fatality: The dog bite results in the death of the victim.

These levels assess the severity of dog bites and guide appropriate responses, including legal actions and behavioral interventions for the dog. 

If a dog has bitten you or someone you know, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention and report the incident to the appropriate authorities.

What Laws in San Jose Will Affect My Dog Bite Claim?

California follows a strict liability rule regarding dog bites, meaning that dog owners are strictly liable for injuries suffered by anyone their dog bites while in a public place or lawfully in a private location, including the dog owner’s property. 

California does not require the victim to prove that the dog owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous propensities. 

The owner is responsible for damages even if the dog has never bitten anyone previously.

The law also covers injuries caused by other aggressive dog behaviors. For example, if a dog jumps on someone, pushing them over and causing injury, you can still hold the owner liable.

San Jose also has a leash law that requires owners to keep their dogs restrained on leashes shorter than six feet and “under the charge of a person competent to exercise care, custody, and control of such dog.”

Who Can Be Held Liable in a California Dog Bite Claim?

In California dog bite claims, the owner is typically held responsible for any liability, but there are instances where others might be deemed liable for a dog bite. 

These situations usually involve individuals with some level of control or responsibility for the dog at the time of the incident.

Here are a few scenarios in which someone other than the dog owner may be liable:

  • Keeper or Harborer: In California, an individual who does not legally own the dog but exercises control or possession of the dog at the time of a bite incident could be liable. This is commonly referred to as being the “keeper” or “harborer” of the dog. If someone other than the owner is accountable for the dog’s actions, they may be jointly liable.
  • Landlord or Property Owner: In certain circumstances, a landlord or property owner may bear responsibility for a dog bite if they were aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior and had authority over the premises. This is more likely to occur when the landlord holds some control or responsibility for the property where the dog resides.
  • Dog Walker or Caretaker: If a professional dog walker, pet sitter, or another individual is hired to look after the dog when a biting incident occurs, they may also share liability alongside the owner.

Determining liability in dog bite cases can be intricate. Seeking legal advice from an experienced attorney is strongly recommended to navigate the specific circumstances of each case effectively.

Other Factors Can Affect Liability

Although California enforces strict liability for dog bites, there exist specific circumstances in which a dog owner can assert defenses. These defenses may not completely exempt the owner from liability, but they can potentially lessen or negate the damages in a dog bite case.

Here are some examples:


If the individual who suffered the dog bite was on private property without permission at the time of the incident, the dog owner may contend that the injured party was trespassing. 

California’s strict liability law typically applies when the victim is in a public location or has lawful authorization to be on private property.


If the person who was bitten provoked the dog, the dog owner may use this as a defense. Provocation includes teasing, hitting, or otherwise mistreating the dog.

Criminal Activity

If the person who was bitten was engaged in criminal activity at the time, the dog owner may argue that the injured party’s illegal actions contributed to the incident.

What Kind of Injuries Can You Get from a Dog Bite?

Dog bites can result in a variety of injuries in all severities. The most common include:

Dressing a disinfected dog bite wound on a patient's forearm at a bite center or local clinic for proper care and healing.
  • Puncture Wounds: These are typically small, deep wounds caused by a dog’s sharp teeth. Puncture wounds can lead to infection and may require medical attention, including wound cleaning and antibiotics.
  • Lacerations: More severe than puncture wounds, lacerations are tears or cuts in the skin, which may require stitches or surgical repair.
  • Abrasions or Scrapes: These are superficial skin injuries caused by the dog’s teeth or claws scraping against the skin. While less severe, they can still lead to infection and may require cleaning and dressing.
  • Bruises and Contusions: Dogs may bite with enough force to cause bruises or contusions, which are areas of skin discoloration due to blood vessel damage. These injuries are usually not as serious as puncture wounds or lacerations but can be painful.
  • Infections: Bacteria from a dog’s mouth can lead to infections in the bite wound. Infection symptoms may include redness, swelling, pain, and discharge. Prompt medical attention is essential to prevent complications.
  • Fractures or Broken Bones: In more severe cases, a dog bite can cause fractures or breaks in bones, especially in the hands, arms, or legs, if the person tries to defend themselves.
  • Nerve Damage: A dog bite can injure nerves, leading to loss of sensation or function.
  • Emotional Trauma: Dog bites can also result in emotional trauma, particularly in children. Victims may experience anxiety, fear, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a dog attack.

The severity of injuries varies, depending on the dog’s size, breed, aggression level, and the victim’s age and overall health. 

All dog bites should be taken seriously, and victims should seek immediate medical attention to prevent complications and infection. 

Consulting with a healthcare provider, mental health professional, and an attorney to address a dog bite’s physical and emotional consequences.

What Forms of Compensation Can Dog Bite Victims Receive?

People bitten by dogs in California can get different types of payment based on what happened and how they were hurt. The payment usually covers money for bills and hurt feelings and pain.

The following are some typical types of compensation that dog bite victims might recover:

  • Medical Expenses: This encompasses reimbursement for all medical expenditures linked to the dog bite, such as emergency room treatment, surgical procedures, medical consultations, prescription medications, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost Earnings: Should the dog bite injuries lead to the victim’s inability to work, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages or income, encompassing past and anticipated future earnings.
  • Pain and Suffering: Non-economic damages, encompassing physical pain and emotional distress stemming from the dog bite, may warrant compensation. While quantifying such damages can be challenging, they often constitute a significant component of dog bite claims.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: Compensation may be granted for any permanent scarring or disfigurement arising from the dog bite. This is frequently regarded as a distinct category of damages.
  • Property Damage: In instances where personal property (e.g., clothing, accessories) sustains damage during the dog attack, compensation may be available to address the costs of repair or replacement.
  • Psychological Counseling: Victims who undergo emotional trauma or necessitate psychological counseling due to the dog bite may qualify for compensation to cover these expenses.
  • Wrongful Death Damages: In tragic cases where a dog bite results in the victim’s death, surviving family members can pursue wrongful death damages, including funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support, and loss of companionship.

The specific circumstances of each case determine the availability and extent of compensation. A qualified attorney concentrating on dog bite law can explain your rights and seek appropriate compensation for your injuries and losses.

What Can a San Jose Dog Bite Attorney Do for Me?

Insurance policies that cover dog bite claims. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to seek a fair settlement for your injuries, medical bills, and other damages.

  • Represent You in Court: If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, your attorney can represent you. They will file a lawsuit, present your case, and advocate for your rights before a judge and jury.
  • Assess Damages: Your attorney will help you assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and future medical needs. They will work to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your losses.
  • Advocate for Your Rights: A dog bite attorney will be your advocate throughout the legal process, working to protect your interests and rights. They can also advise you on whether to accept a settlement or proceed with litigation.
  • Handle Legal Complexities: Dog bite cases can involve complex legal issues, especially when multiple parties are involved or when the owner disputes liability. An attorney has the legal knowledge and experience to navigate these complexities on your behalf.
  • Provide Peace of Mind: An attorney can provide peace of mind, knowing that someone is handling the legal aspects of your case while you focus on recovery.

Consult a qualified dog bite attorney if a dog has bitten you, as they can help you pursue the compensation you may be entitled to under the law and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

You’ve Found a San Jose Dog Bite Lawyer Who Cares

Let us help you maneuver the legal system to get repaid for the suffering from your dog bite.

Check out our conveniently located San Jose office at 4340 Stevens Creek Boulevard Suite 287, San Jose, CA 95129, or call us at (415) 704-9912.

Our San Jose Location

Wilshire Law Firm

4340 Stevens Creek Blvd UNIT 287
San Jose, CA 95129
Tel: (408) 560-4642

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Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
By submitting this form, you agree to receive telephone calls and text messages at anytime, which include hours outside of business hours (8:00 a.m. PST - 9:00 p.m. PST). This is so that we may reach you as soon as possible in order to consult on your potential case.