Causes of Action in Dog Bite Cases

There are at least 20 causes of action that may be employed in dog bite cases. This section of Dog Bite Law puts them all in one place for your review. Attorneys can download 13 of them, with supporting forms of discovery, plus deposition questions, by getting Dog Bite Lawsuit Forms. Lawyers in the State of California also can download The Undemurrable Complaint and Supporting Authorities — a complaint with the 7 most useful causes of action plus detailed supporting points and authorities which have defeated every demurrer, motion to strike, and motion for judgment on the pleadings ever encountered. 

20 Causes of Action

  1. Negligence
  2. Common Law Strict Liability for Dangerous Propensity
  3. Strict Liability Based on the Dog Bite Statute
  4. Intentional Tort (“siccing” a dog on a person)
  5. Negligence Per Se Based on Violation of the Leash Law (or violation of any law intended to prevent a dog attack)
  6. Residential Landlord Liability for Tenant’s Dog (negligence based on failure to evict tenant who owned vicious dog)
  7. Commercial Landlord Liability for Presence of Vicious Dog (negligence based on failure to rid premises of vicious dog, such as stray dogs)
  8. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress on a Bystander
  9. Battery for Intentionally Causing Dog to Attack (setting up circumstances that resulted in dog attack)
  10. Failure to Provide Identity or Information About Rabies Vaccinations
  11. Intentional Misrepresentation and Concealment by Animal Shelter or Adoption Group (giving vicious dog to unknowing foster or new owners)
  12. Negligent Misrepresentation by Animal Shelter or Adoption Group (lies about the temperament of a vicious dog or about breed of dog)
  13. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (forcing dog bite victim to encounter the attacking dog after the dog attack)
  14. Premises Liability (nonfunctional fence or gate that allowed dog to escape and cause injury)
  15. Parental Cause of Action for Recovery of Medical Expenses for Child
  16. Loss of Consortium
  17. Private Animal Control Cause of Action (in states that permit anyone to petition court for control of vicious dog)
  18. Private Nuisance (allowing vicious or noisy dog to interfere with neighbor’s quiet enjoyment of property)
  19. Public Nuisance (allowing vicious dog to roam, causing neighbors to fear going outside)
  20. Wrongful Death

Templates for the Causes of Action

Attorneys can download the following sets of templates and use them immediately:

  • Causes of Action 1 through 13, above, are in Dog Bite Lawsuit Forms. This comes with full sets of interrogatories, requests for admission, and demands for production of documents and evidence. In addition, it has deposition questions for the most common defendants and issues. 
  • California versions of Causes of Action 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9 are in The Undemurrable Complaint and Supporting Authorities. The advantage of this set is that the allegations are based on California’s unique dog bite statute, the California Evidence Code version of negligence per se, the unique California case law pertaining to the liability of residential landlords for attacks by tenants’ dogs, and the unique factual requirements for punitive damages contained in California statutes.

When and How to Use the Causes of Action

Before drafting a dog bite complaint, read Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims in the USA. It will give you a good overview of many of the available causes of action. Attorneys in one-bite states should also read The One-Bite Rule.

After that, read the state, county and city animal control laws because you must leave no stone unturned in the search for a public safety ordinance that the defendants may have violated. The doctrine of negligence per se is the dog bite victim’s most powerful weapon in a one-bite state.

Always remember to plead allegations as sparse as possible without risking a demurrer. Once you are past the pleading stage of a case, those tight allegations can have the effect of streamlining the proof of the case.

Additional discussion of the above-listed Causes of Action can be found throughout Start with the law of your state, accessed from the home page

Consultation with Attorney Kenneth Phillips

Attorney Phillips is the author of Dog Bite Law and all of the books, templates and other items available at the Dog Bite Law Store. He has handled cases through the United States and has authored laws enacted at the state level on down. As the leading legal expert in this field, he offers consultation services to other lawyers who want a second opinion about case intake, case value, pleading the strongest case, evaluating the evidence, evaluating the settlement value of the injuries, defeating summary judgment motions, arguing the case at trial, and all other aspects of dog bite cases. To learn more, see Special Services for Attorneys