According to the San Diego County Animal Services, there are over 2,500 new dog bite cases annually. Unfortunately, even minor dog bites could result in long-term medical problems requiring costly medical care and negatively impact your lifestyle.
Attorney Richard Morse and his team have spent the last 20 years helping dog attack victims and will assess your case for free. By seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney, you increase your chances of being properly compensated for your injuries. We are available to assist you in our downtown San Diego office or can make arrangements to come to you.
Dog Bite Laws
California has passed a “Dog Bite” statute in section 3342 of the Civil Code. In San Diego, a dog owner is automatically held responsible for any damages suffered as long as the bite occurred either:
- In a public place,
- While the victim was lawfully on private property, or
- On the dog owner’s property, as long as the victim was there legally
The owner is held responsible regardless of whether the dog has ever been vicious or has shown signs of aggression in the past.
This law makes it easier for victims of attacks or injuries to get compensation for the damage that the dog has caused. All the victim must do is show that the dog bit him without provocation to recover compensation. Speak with a dog bite injury lawyer at ITL today to see how this statute might help you recover damages.
Dog Owner Liability
Under the “dog bite” statute, the victim is not required to prove the owner was negligent for the victim to recover compensation. This is known as “strict liability.” To clarify, even if the owner did everything right (had the dog on a leash, took the dog to training classes, etc.), the fact that dog bit you is enough to make the owner liable for your injuries.
This statute creates an exception to the general rule that an owner is not liable without prior knowledge of a dog’s vicious nature. Hicks v. Sullivan (1932) 122 Cal.App. 635, 639.
You Only Have Two Years To File a Claim After A Dog Bite
California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1 states that you only have two years from the time of the attack to file a dog bite personal injury claim. Attorneys refer to this as the “statute of limitations” in dog bite cases.
Given how long it can take to properly investigate before filing a claim, it is usually in your best interests to contact a San Diego dog bite attorney immediately.
Collecting Damages After a Dog Attack
Depending on the circumstances, the dog’s owner may be required to compensate you for:
- Expenses for medical treatment
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Costs of future treatment for disfigurement, and
- Physical Therapy
- Wrongful Death
Sources of Compensation
In most cases, the bite injury damages are covered by the dog owner’s:
- Homeowners’ insurance policy, or
- Rental insurance policy
This means that the dog bite victim will likely be negotiating with the insurance company to get compensation. Victims often get monetary damages for bite injuries by settling a claim outside of court. Unfortunately, the insurance companies often make low settlement offers. Having an experienced dog bite lawyer in your corner improves your position.
If you are not able to settle, your case may go to court. Injury Trial Lawyers has extensive experience litigating cases and convincing a jury to award money to dog bite victims. We’ll put together a strong case to convince a jury to give you enough money to cover all your losses.
Causes of Dog Attacks
Regardless of size or age, dogs will bite if provoked. The most common reasons why dogs bite are:
- The animal is defending its territory
- The dog is scared or was startled
- The dog is protecting something it perceives as valuable like food
- It is sick and wants to be left alone
Common Dog Bite Accident Injuries
It is essential that you know the full extent of the damage that the bite has caused before agreeing to a settlement. Dog bites commonly cause permanent disfigurement and need expensive treatment such as surgery as well as ongoing long-term medical care.
According to the Center for Disease Control, arm/hand bites account for 48.2% of all injuries, with leg/foot injuries in second at 27.5% and head/neck injuries in the minority at 24.3%. However, over 64% of injuries to children 4 and younger occurred in the head/neck region, while injuries to the extremities increased with age.
Beyond the physical damage, there is emotional pain and suffering associated with permanent disfigurement for which you deserve compensation. Your personal injury attorney can help to ensure that you get fairly compensated for all damages resulting from the bite.
What To Do After Being Bitten by a Dog
- Seek Medical Attention: If a dog bites you or a loved one (especially a young child), seek medical attention immediately. Given the severe scarring that can occur from dog bites, quick and expert medical attention could mitigate the severity and/or appearance of scars in the future.
- Call Animal Control: The San Diego County Department of Animal Services should also be called promptly. In fact, pursuant to San Diego County Ordinance 62.615(b), it is a misdemeanor for the dog’s owner not to notify animal control. This requirement is necessary to make sure the dog is quickly isolated temporarily for at least 10 days to check for rabies’ symptoms. This can also help identify whether the particular dog has already been identified as either a “potentially dangerous dog” or a “vicious dog.”
- Take Pictures: When possible, and when it would not interfere with prompt medical treatment, photos should be taken of the injuries as soon as possible. Photos taken before and after treatment are important for evidentiary purposes. While medical records provide an excellent source of information regarding the nature of the injuries sustained and the treatment provided, photos are invaluable if there is a potential claim against a dog owner. Of course, any records related to the incident and treatment should be maintained.
- Get Names of Witnesses: In addition to photos, make sure to write down the names of all witnesses and the dog’s owner. This information is critical should it become necessary to depose witnesses at a later time.
- Seek Legal Representation: Finally, seeking experienced legal representation as soon as possible can help maximize any potential compensation for dog bite victims.
Speak with an Experienced San Diego Dog Bite Attorney Today
Injury Trial Lawyers, APC offers free consultations to dog bite victims. We do not charge legal fees unless we win.
If a dog has attacked you or a loved one, call San Diego dog bite attorney Richard Morse at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC today. We will aggressively defend your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
- California Dog Bite Statute
- Why Dogs Bite – American Veterinary Medical Foundation
- Preventing Dog Bites – Center for Disease Control