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What Happens if Your Dog is Provoked and Attacks Someone?

Posted on April 19, 2023 in Dog Bites

If your dog is provoked and attacks someone, it can be a serious and dangerous situation. You can potentially be held liable for any injuries or damages that occur. This means that you could be facing legal action and may be required to compensate the victim for their medical expenses, lost wages, and any other losses they suffer as a result of the attack. However, provocation can play a significant role in your degree of liability.

owner liability for a provoked dog bite

My Dog Was Provoked, Am I Still Liable for an Attack?

In California, a victim’s provocation can be used as a defense in a dog bite case if the victim engaged in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to conclude that they were trying to provoke the dog. However, the burden of proof for establishing provocation as a defense falls on the dog owner. Therefore, you must show that the victim’s behavior was so extreme that it would have provoked any dog, not just your own. Additionally, even if provocation is established, you may still be held liable if the dog’s response was disproportionate or if you were negligent in controlling the dog.

California follows the legal doctrine of pure comparative negligence in dog bite cases. This means that if the victim is found to have contributed to the dog bite incident in any way, their damages award will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if the victim is found to be 80% at fault for the attack because they provoked the dog, their damages award would be reduced by 80%. This means that if their award was $100,000, they would only be able to recover $20,000.

What To Do After Your Dog Attacks Someone

If your dog attacks someone, here are some steps to take:

  • Secure your dog: If it is still aggressive or agitated, remove it from the area and secure it in a safe place. This will prevent any further attacks and help calm your dog down.
  • Attend to the victim’s needs: Check on the victim and ensure they seek medical attention. Even if the injuries appear minor, it is important to have them assessed by a medical professional to ensure that there are no underlying issues or complications.
  • Exchange information: Exchange contact information with the victim, including names, phone numbers, addresses, and your insurance information.
  • Contact the authorities: Report the incident to your local animal control agency or law enforcement agency.
  • Cooperate with the authorities: This may include providing them with information about your dog’s medical history, behavior, and training and telling your side of the story and how your dog was provoked.

If the victim decides to file a claim against you, you should contact your insurance company to report the incident. Your homeowner’s insurance policy may provide coverage for dog bite liability, but you should review your policy carefully to understand your coverage.

Potential Consequences of a Dog Attack

In addition to civil liability, a dog attack has several potential consequences. Depending on the severity of the attack, your dog may be impounded and quarantined for a period of time to ensure that it does not have rabies or other communicable diseases. Animal control or law enforcement may also conduct an investigation to determine whether your dog poses a threat to public safety. If your dog is found to be aggressive or dangerous, you may be required to take certain actions to prevent future incidents from occurring. For example, muzzling your dog when it is in public or keeping it on a leash at all times. In extreme cases, a court or animal control agency may order that the dog be euthanized if it is deemed too dangerous to be around people.