The laws on dog bites are unique in California
Traditionally, a person bitten by a dog had to show that the owner had reason to know of the dog’s propensity to attack for that owner to be liable. This burden usually involved finding out if there had been prior bites, which can be very difficult.
California does not abide by the traditional requirements. Instead, it has a dog bite statute (California Civil Code 3342). Under Section 3342, a dog owner is automatically liable for injuries resulting from his or her dog biting someone. This liability attaches if the person is bitten in a public place or while lawfully on private property.
While the owner is always liable, other people may also be liable for the amount that their actions contributed to your injury. Sometimes, someone other than the owner is walking the dog. If this individual does not exercise due care in looking after the dog, he or she can be held liable for injuries, so long as those injuries were foreseeable.
Dog Bite Testimonial
What you are entitled to
If you or your minor child is bitten, you may recover any of the following damages.
Treatment bills being paid for
A dog bite or attack that leaves you injured will result in medical bills for emergency room treatment, follow-up care and therapy and, very possibly, plastic surgery. Even with insurance, there will be co-pays and amounts not covered by the insurance for which you will be out of pocket. If you do not have insurance, then your out-of-pocket or indebtedness will be substantially higher. You are entitled to be paid back for all payments you made or are expected to make.
Homeowners and sometimes even renters carry liability insurance that would cover injuries resulting from a bite. These insurance companies are usually the most reliable avenue for obtaining compensation for your injuries.
Income due to time missed from work
A dog bite injury can also put you out of work, which can cost you income that you would have otherwise earned. You are entitled to that lost income because someone else’s action cost you it. Quantifying and proving lost income can be difficult, particularly for self-employed individuals. We can help you obtain the documents needed to make such a claim.
Physical pain and mental and emotional suffering
The worst part about being injured is actually being injured – the pain, suffering, inconvenience and disruption caused to your life can be unforgettable. This is where insurance companies will try to skimp, and a knowledgeable attorney who also takes the time to get to know you and how this accident affected you can be a great asset in the fight to get you the full compensation you deserve.
Many law firms are like mills, and your attorney will barely handle your case. Not only will this be a frustrating experience for you, not knowing what is going on with your case, but insurance companies can tell when someone is being represented by a mill. They recognize that, when push comes to shove, that law firm will not fight for its client, and as a result, they give a lowball offer.
At our firm, both you and your case will get the attention each deserves. Knowledge is power, and an informed client is key to the success of a case. Therefore, we educate all of our clients on the lay of the land, how the case will likely proceed, and what to expect from start to finish.
We also understand that being injured is a stressful experience as well as a painful one. Lawyers used to be called “counsellor” because they provided counsel (advice) to their clients. We believe strongly in both our role as advocate and as counsellor. These principles are carried forward by all of our staff and attorneys.
Questions you may have
What do I do in the aftermath of a dog bite?
1) If you or someone else is injured, call the police.
2) If the dog that bit you gets loose and cannot be found, call the police and animal control, as the animal may pose a harm to others as long as it remains at large.
3) If the owner or someone else is present, get the contact information for the dog walker and the owner.
4) Contact animal control so that a full investigation can be done. This investigation will get you the names and information of the responsible parties, and may turn up information regarding prior incidents regarding the animal that bit you.
5) Take pictures of your injuries to document them for later proof of their extent.
How do I get the treatment I need?
In these financially trying time, health insurance often doesn’t make the budget cut, but what if you get bit when you have no coverage? Many health care providers whose services would be helpful to a dog bite victim will treat you on a lien basis, meaning that you pay nothing out of pocket, and the doctor is paid by the at-fault party when the case is resolved.
When can I bring my case?
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including dog bites, is 2 years from the date of the injury. This means you have 2 years to settle the claim before you have to file a lawsuit in order to protect the statute of limitations. Of course, the case can settle after the lawsuit is filed, or it may go to trial if settlement is not plausible.
Different time limits apply if you are bitten by a government dog, such as a police animal, in which case you have 6 months from the date of injury to file a government claim, and 6 months from the date of denial of that claim (presumed denied after 45 days with no response) to file a lawsuit.
Dunn, Carpio & Turner – experienced with dog bite cases
Since 1977, our firm has been helping victims of dog bite injuries recover full and fair compensation for their losses.
We work on a contingency basis, which means you do not have to pay anything upfront or out-of-pocket for us to advocate for you. If we do not recover for you, you owe us nothing.
We are committed to not only providing top-notch legal representation but also to giving you a great experience with our office. We pride ourselves on keeping you informed of the progress of your case, and being available to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.
Call us for a free consultation to learn more about your options and rights and the strength of your case.