Millions of dogs currently reside in homes across the United States and are an important part of our lives. Generally, dogs are considered family members that provide companionship, enjoyment and even protection to their owners. Unfortunately, not all dog owners are responsible with their pets, leading to thousands of people being bitten, mauled or attacked by a dog each year.
Fortunately, most dog bites are pretty minor and can be treated at home. However, the more serious dog bites can cause painful and life altering injuries, including disfigurement, permanent scarring, psychological trauma and sometimes death. These more serious injuries will require emergency medical treatment, often resulting in costly medical bills.
We are all aware that certain breeds are well-known for their aggressive behaviors, but in reality any breed of dog can bite and lead to serious and permanent injuries.
Children are naturally curious and a fuzzy, friendly looking dog is often an irresistible lure to them. But children tend to be at a higher risk for face bite injuries since they tend to be at a height where they are interacting at eye-level and their actions are often provoke a dog.
Parents are advised to watch their children around dogs at all times, especially if it is unknown how that dog behaves around kids. However, even the most vigilant parents cannot always prevent a sudden attack from happening.
In a dog bite lawsuit, the dog owner may be held personally liable, though sometimes their homeowner’s insurance will cover the costs, depending on where the bite occurred and what the insurance policy explicitly covers. If the dog is a stray and there is no known owner, a person who was bitten may have no legal recourse.
It is the responsibility of the victim or the person suing on their behalf to demonstrate, with evidence, that the defendant is responsible because they were the owner of the dog at the time the bite occurred. Furthermore, owners are only liable if the person bitten was in a public place or on private property “lawfully”. In the case of trespassing, the dog owner may have a defense to a dog bite lawsuit.
California is a strict liability state, meaning owners are responsible for their dogs and may be held liable if their dog attacks a person, whether or not the owner knew the dog was aggressive or likely to bite someone. This differs from states where plaintiffs must prove that the owner knew or should have known of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
If you or a loved one has had the misfortune of being bitten by an animal, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries resulting from the attack. Determining your legal rights can be overwhelming and unimaginably complex. You will likely have questions about your rights and you should immediately contacting a personal injury attorney with experience handling dog/animal bite cases. Keep in mind that time is of the essence when filing a case because the statute of limitations for a dog bite lawsuit in California is 2 years. That means claims filed after this time period will be time-barred and dismissed.
A serious dog bite will most likely result in expensive medical bills, lost wages, and costs that are more difficult to measure like pain and suffering. Some victims may need facial reconstruction surgery or other plastic surgery as a result of their injuries. Those with permanent injuries may also wish to seek compensation for future lost earnings, if the effects of the dog bite will likely affect their future job prospects.
Contact our Riverside County Personal Injury Attorneys at 1-877-241-9554 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away. You can even use our online contact form, and we’ll reply to you quickly.
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