Living in California, with its beautiful weather and healthy lifestyle, walkers and joggers can expect to encounter dogs of all breeds on an almost daily basis. The fresh air and active lifestyle welcomes man’s best friend out into public. Unfortunately, not all dogs are friendly and not all owners keep their pets properly secured, leading to thousands of people being bitten, mauled or attacked by a dog each year.
Most dog bites are relatively minor and are easily treated at home with ointments. However, more serious dog bites that can cause agonizing and life altering injuries, including permanent scarring, disfigurement, psychological trauma and sometimes death. These injuries will require emergency medical treatment, often incurring numerous costly medical bills over several years.
Small children tend to be curious around furry animals. Unfortunately, children also tend to be at an exceptionally high risk for face bite injuries since they are more likely to be at a height where they are interacting at eye-level and their unpredictable actions can be startling to a dog.
While parents and other adults are advised to watch their children around dogs at all times (and most do), even the most vigilant parents cannot always prevent a sudden attack from happening.
California is a strict liability state, which means that owners are liable 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 was 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.
When a dog bite case is filed, the dog owner may be held personally liable. In some cases, the bite or attack is covered by their homeowner’s insurance, 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 not have legal recourse.
The bite victim or the person suing on their behalf is responsible for demonstrating, with evidence, that the defendant is responsible because they were the owner of the dog at the time the bite attack occurred. 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.
If you or a family member has been bitten by an animal, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries that resulted. Determining your legal rights can be overwhelming and unimaginably complicated. You will likely have questions about your rights and you should consider 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 severe dog bite can result in costly 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 Orange County Personal Injury Attorney 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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