The California Dog Bite Guide was created by our attorneys to help residents obtain maximum compensation from the negligent party. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, contact our office for a free consultation.
If you have been attacked by a dog, you are probably feeling scared and angry. The pain from these bites and attacks can be really awful. In Los Angeles, it seems everyone has a dog. They’re common companions and are often brought along with their owners to lunch, the store, the airport, etc. When a dog owner does not do what they need to do to prevent an attack, then they are liable for your injuries and damages.
Basics of a Dog Bite Case
Dog bite cases in California are going to be different than they would be in other states. It is different in a way that will benefit you as the injured party. In most states, with dog bite cases, there is going to be the responsibility on the injured party to prove that dog was dangerous and that the owner knew they had a propensity to be violent. That is not the case in California. It is easier for you to get compensation because you do not have to prove those things.
California follows the rules of strict liability. That means the owner of the dog is strictly liable for the bite. Their dog doesn’t have to have shown any history of bites, attacks, or violent personality. However, if there was trespassing or a break in, and their dog attacks, they are not liable for that attack. Most of the time, though, these cases are innocent bystanders being attack by a dog due to the owner’s negligence. Most of the time, California law protects the injured party.
You can benefit from these laws that are built to protect you so long as you file your claim within the statute of limitations. You have two years from the date of the accident to bring your claim or settle. After that, the insurance company can and will throw out your case. You should not wait too long to get to an attorney or they may not be able to help you. There are steps needed to make a case work and they cannot happen overnight.
Prevent Getting Rabies
When you’re attack by a dog, you may have wounds of various kinds. You may be worried about nerve damage, scarring, and muscular tearing. Those are all valid concerns, but you need to also be aware of the risk of rabies. If the owner of the dog who bit you cannot produce proof that the dog had its rabies vaccination, you may be at risk. You should not wait to find out if you are infected. It doesn’t show itself right away and you will be putting yourself in danger.
What you can do is see a doctor right away and ask for treatment. They will decide if you require further treatment. Immediately after the bite, if you wash the wound continually with soap and warm water for more than five minutes, you reduce your risk of infection. Take any treatment that your doctor suggests after that.
You should seek this treatment even if you walked away with scratches because there is still a risk of infection through that open skin and potentially infected dog saliva. Do this without worries about the cost for treatment as this may be covered in your compensation and your health is worth far more than your money is.
Why These Attacks Happen
It is important to understand exactly why these attacks happen to people. It is important because we need to understand the cause of your injuries and make sure that you in fact won’t be found liable for the bite. That happens in instances where the attacked person was trespassing or breaking in and the dog is being protective. Other times, the instances are different. It is a completely different scenario when there is provocation of the dog and that causes it to attack. This often happens when children who don’t know how to behave around dogs irritates the animal and gets bit. If the owner knows that this dog has nipped at kids, has barked at strangers, and does not do anything to keep others safe from the dog, they are going to be in trouble when the dog finally comes out and attacks someone.
These liable parties are responsible for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Dog bite victims often suffer heavy medical bills. In 2017, victims spent over $600 million in medical bills, surgeries and dog bite related costs. Insurance companies are responsible for $1 billion dollars of damages and costs related to dogs each year.
Frequently Asked Dog Bite Questions
What Do I Do After a Dog Bite?
There are several steps, the first of which is to do your best to alert the owner that an incident has occurred. It’s not a bad idea to try to take photographs of the dog, and the injuries that you believe are related to that attack as close in time to when the attack happened. It’s also not a bad idea to get animal control on the line and ask animal control to come down there. They’ll usually do a report, and that will indicate ownership of the dog.
Other important questions to ask the owner are, “Has the dog had their shots?” and, “Has the dog been vaccinated?” This leads us to the next thing that we recommend you do, which is treat and get medical attention as immediately as possible, as well as following your doctor’s advice.
Does a Beware of Dog Sign Affect Liability?
As a general matter, signs are important. Signs are significant facts in cases. What we learned is that, even though there may have been a sign indicating beware of dog, some juries and some people can process that information to take it to mean that you had knowledge of that dog’s dangerous propensities. The mere existence of a sign indicating some sort of danger or warning does not mean that you do not have a claim. It’s important that you retain an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible to help guard and guide you through the process.
What Injuries Are Common from Attacks?
In dealing with several dog bite cases at this law firm, we have learned that there are some injuries that are almost universal, by which I mean a lot of cases will see these kinds of injuries. Those injuries can range from lacerations that might necessitate stitches or staples, to orthopedic injuries. You may have been attacked by a dog and fallen as a result, or you may have been viciously pulled from a limb as the result of the attack. There can be the obvious injuries which would include cuts, scrapes, and bruises, all of which require medical attention. What we’ve also learned is that, after inflammation dies down, it’s not uncommon for a victim of a dog attack to also have orthopedic injuries.
Does Insurance Cover Dog Bite Damages?
The general answer is yes. If the homeowner of the location where the dog bite or attack occurred has an insurance policy, their dogs or any pets are usually covered under those policies. What’s more is, if the owner of the property does not have insurance, you may well have insurance that covers you for that loss under your own homeowner’s or renter’s policy.
Who Is Liable for the Attack?
Recently, we had a client come in who was the victim of a dog attack. This client had been attacked by a dog that was actually being walked by someone other than the homeowner. The question that we were faced with was whether someone other than the owner of a dog can be responsible if a dog attacks or bites you during their watch. What we learned is that if someone is operating either a dog walking service or some sort of veterinary service and you are injured as a result of either a dog bite or attack, it is likely that the person who was watching the dog or in charge of maintaining the dog can be found legally responsible.
What If the Liable Party is Uninsured?
The other day, we had a client come in and wanted to speak with us about a recent dog attack that he was a victim of. His inquiry or his main question, among a litany of other questions was, “I don’t think the owner of the dog had insurance. What should I do?” Well, the good news in that case was that he had a homeowner’s policy that covered him for that attack. The broader point and the broader lesson is that, even though you may have been the victim of a dog bite or attack and the dog owner may not carry insurance, your own insurance company or insurance policy may cover the loss.
What Questions Should I Ask the Dog Owner?
If you’ve been seriously injured from a dog bite here in California and have some questions about what you should ask the owner immediately or shortly thereafter, the most important question is to ask the owner of the dog is if it has had its shots and if the dog is vaccinated. That’s usually information that you will want to be armed with when you have to face the insurance companies.
Contact Our Office Today
To get the compensation that you deserve, it is imperative that you call an experienced attorney. Our California dog bite attorney, Mindy Bish, is here to help you through your difficult legal situation and make sure that you’re making your time limitations, collecting evidence, and following the steps needed to have a strong case. Please call our office today for a free consultation.