Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit Against Owners with No Insurance
How to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit When Dog Owners Have No Insurance?
If you sustained injuries following a dog bite attack, the last thing you want to hear is that the dog owner doesn’t have proper insurance to cover the costs of your injuries. And while tough, it isn’t impossible to figure out whether or not the dog owner has proper insurance, along with recovering compensation for damages with the right help.
A study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2008 found that the average cost of a hospital stay caused by a dog bite was $18,200 — a cost that has surely risen significantly over the last decade. In 2018 alone, there were 26,906 reconstructive procedures due to dog bite attacks alone.
As you can see, in the worst of cases, treatment for injuries caused by dog bites can be very expensive. The victim is put in an unfair situation since they will not only have to deal with costly medical bills, but will also have to endure physical and psychological damages that resulted from the attack.
Hiring a dog bite attorney is your best bet to pursue a claim against the dog owner. Only an experienced attorney can quickly investigate potential target defendants, including dog owners, property owners, and business owners. They may also uncover insurance coverages so you can receive fair compensation. Our expert legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you hold the responsible party accountable.
How to Know if You Have a Case
Accidents happen, but when it comes to dog bites, in most cases, the owner is responsible for the attack. California is a strict liability state, which means that even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and had no history of any aggressive behavior, the owner can still be held liable.
However, the owner’s strict liability is limited to injuries caused by an actual dog bite, and not by any other behavior on the dog’s part. According to the California Civil Code Section 3342, a dog owner will be held liable for damages when:
- A victim’s injuries were caused by a dog bite
- A victim was bitten in a public place or while lawfully on private property
If you are bitten, you only have to prove that the bite took place while you were in a public place or lawfully in a private one — including the dog owner’s own property. You do not have to show proof that the owner knew the dog would bite or failed to use reasonable care to prevent it. However, there are some exceptions for dog bites. This includes:
- The dog works under the police and military
- The dog was provoked into biting the individual
Who Else Can Be Responsible for a Dog Bite?
It doesn’t matter how big or small, mean or cuddly-looking they may be, any dog can bite. And though they can vary depending on the dog’s size, even the smallest injury needs medical attention.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and more than 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bites each year in the United States. Moreover, over half of dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to the victim.
While going after the dog owner is the easiest and simplest way to seek justice, it may not always yield the compensation you deserve because of the dog owner’s lack of insurance coverage and/or assets. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced dog bite attorney to investigate and find other potential targets. These are some examples of other people you may be able to build a case against:
- Residential landlords
Though it’s much harder to go against a landlord than the actual dog owner in a dog bite claim, it is possible. Landlords can be held liable if they knew or should have known about the dog’s viciousness and/or propensity to bite and had a reasonable opportunity to have the dog removed, but didn’t. Additionally, property owners may also be liable if a dangerous condition on the property ultimately led to the dog bite injury.
- Commercial landlords
Similar to residential landlords, owners of commercial properties can be held liable if they knew or should have known about the dog’s viciousness and/or propensity to bite. And again, commercial property owners may also be liable if a dangerous condition on the property ultimately led to the dog bite injury.
- Store owners
Let’s say you visited your neighborhood liquor store and you were attacked by a dog that was on the premises. You may be able to hold the store owner liable for the injuries sustained if the store owner knew or should have known about the dog’s viciousness and/or propensity to bite and still allowed the dog on the property.
- The victim’s employer
If your dog bite happened while you were at work, you may be able to recover damages through a worker’s compensation claim.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
California’s statute of limitations on personal injury cases — which includes dog bite injuries— is 2 years starting from the initial date of the incident. After the deadline, the court will almost certainly throw out the case.
If you sustained injuries as a result of a dog bite, let our experienced team of dog bite lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.