California Dog Bite Attorney
Expert California Dog Bite Lawyers
Dog bite accidents are often distressing and violent events. According to statistics, California is one of the leading states in dog attacks and dog bite injuries. If you’ve been a victim of a dog bite in California, you are entitled to compensation and our expert California dog bite lawyers can assist you in securing the damages that you’re entitled to.
As lovable and friendly as dogs seem, without the proper training and caretaking, man’s best friend can easily become a nightmare in a matter of unprovoked seconds. It is extremely important to seek medical attention right away but also contact a dog bite attorney to ensure all your rights remain protected.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our qualified California dog bite attorneys are readily available to offer legal assistance to victims of personal injury. We have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. With our track record of winning more than $1 billion in settlements for our clients, we are confident that we will deliver a good outcome to your case.
What to Do After a Dog Bite in California
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in California, there are a series of important steps you must take as follows:
- You must obtain immediate medical attention if your injuries are severe. Even if your injuries are not severe, you should still seek medical attention in case your symptoms are not obvious.
- Ensure to collect contact information of the owner or handler of the dog. If there are no visible owners present, take pictures of the dog and the area the incident happened and collect contact information for all witnesses present.
- Call the police or local authorities.
- File a report with your local animal control organization.
- Call an experienced law firm that specializes in California dog bite cases like West Coast Trial Lawyers.
All biting dogs or dogs that are suspected of having rabies, must be reported to the local health officer according to California Code of Regulations Title 177, § 2606(a).
California Dog Bite Law
In some states, liability against dog owners can be difficult to prove due to the “one bite rule” which states that victims have to prove the owner's prior knowledge of their dog’s aggressive behavior.
California does not practice the one bite rule but instead has a strict liability statute regarding dog bite attacks. This means that dog owners in California are responsible for the aggressive behaviors of their dogs whether they had prior knowledge, or their dogs had shown signs of aggressiveness in the past.
There are only a few exceptions to California dog bite laws, such as
- If the dog bite attack was provoked by trespassing or unlawful entry.
- If the dog is a service animal, in which case they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This protection does not apply to emotional support dogs, however.
- If the victim was previously taunting or purposely upsetting the dog prior to the attack.
- If the dog was performing military duty or law enforcement work at the time of bite
California dog bite law only applies the strict liability statute to dog bites and not just any attack or accident involving a dog. If a victim has sustained injuries from a dog in another way, they may be able to sue the owner for negligence instead.
You should contact an experienced dog bite attorney in order to determine the specifics of your dog bite case.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Being bitten by a dog can result in some of the most traumatic injuries, ranging from minor cuts to major bruises and a lot of blood.
The dog owner is not just liable for directly inflicted injuries on the victim, but also injuries sustained while trying to escape or defend themselves.
Some common types of dog bite injuries are:
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
Risk of Infection From a Dog Bite
Dog bites come with a risk of infection caused by several different strains of bacteria. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), 15 to 20 percent of dog bite wounds become infected.
The most common bacteria found in dog bite infections are:
- Staphylococcus species
- Streptococcus species
- Eikenella species
- Pasteurella species
- Proteus species
- Klebsiella species
- Haemophilus species
- Enterobacter species
- DF-2 or Capnocytophaga canimorsus
- Bacteroides species
- Moraxella species
- Corynebacterium species
- Neisseria species
- Fusobacterium species
- Prevotella species
- Porphyromonas species
Risk of infection from a dog bite increases depending on the severity of the bite--where it's located and how deep it is. The risk of infection from a dog bite is also higher if the victim has a weak immune system.
Seek immediate medical attention or clean the wound and stop the bleeding to prevent infection from the bacteria. Afterwards, seek an experienced dog bite attorney to help you recover lost damages.
Dog Bite Levels in California
The Dunbar bite scale created by notable veterinarian Dr. Ian Dunbar, takes into consideration the dog’s behavior and severity of dog bites and categorizes this into 6 levels. This scale is used by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT)
- Level 1: The dog is behaving obnoxiously or aggressively but does not make any skin contact with its teeth. No medical attention is required here.
- Level 2: The dog makes skin contact with its teeth but does not puncture the skin. There may be a slight graze or slight visible blood, but no medical attention is needed.
- Level 3: A single bite with one to four punctures from the teeth, creating a shallow wound.
- Level 4: A single bite with one to four punctures from the teeth, creating a deep wound. These wounds may require stitches.
- Level 5: A multiple bite incident resulting in deep wounds. These wounds may cause severe bleeding and cause the victim to suffer permanent scarring.
- Level 6: The attack leaves the victim dead.
The APDT recognizes that dogs classified as Level 4 or Level 5 biters, have the potential to be rehabilitated to promote behavioral change. However, dogs that cannot be rehabilitated and carry out severe attacks are advised to be euthanized.
Will The Dog That Bit Me Be Quarantined?
If you have been bitten by a dog in California and you’re wondering if the dog will potentially be put away or quarantined, the answer is yes.
Quarantine laws and restrictions differ by state, but most dogs are required to be quarantined for a certain amount of time after biting a human.
Legally, all dog bites are required to be reported. After a dog bite has been reported in California, the dog is then quarantined for no less than 10 days to determine whether it is exhibiting signs of a rabies infection or not.
The dog can either be quarantined in the owner’s home if it is determined low risk or quarantined in an animal shelter or veterinarian’s office if considered high risk.
If after 10 days it is determined that the dog is indeed showing signs of rabies, it may be euthanized to protect the public from the deadly virus.
When to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit
The first step to take after a dog bite injury, is to seek medical attention. After your wounds have been properly treated and taken care of, the next major step you have to take is to look for an expert California dog bite lawyer.
Consulting with a personal injury lawyer who has expertise in dog bite cases can help your case and ensure you receive all the potential damages that you may be entitled to.
Consider the circumstances surrounding your dog bite incident, where you trespassing or were you just randomly attacked? The circumstances surrounding the accident could determine who is liable and affect your case if you decide to file a lawsuit.
Speak with a dog bite lawyer so that they can evaluate your case for free and determine whether you have a strong case on your hand. Your dog bite attorney can also help you negotiate with the insurance company if the dog owner chooses to settle out of court.
Can You Sue for a Minor Dog Bite in California?
Even if the dog bite seems minor, you can definitely still sue for what might be considered a minor dog bite in California.
Due to California’s strict liability dog bite rules, all dog owners in California are liable for all damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place.
This means that whether the bite is considered major or minor, the dog owner is still liable for the bite and you the victim can sue for damages.
Dog owners in California are strictly accountable for any injuries their pets may cause. This means that whether or not the owner knew their dog was going to bite someone, they could still be held liable for damages.
Dogs may also be put down depending on factors like age, aggression, overcrowding in shelters, or even a dog owner's request.
It’s important to be aware that the amount of potential damages depends on how bad or severe the dog bite was. As a result, the payout for a minor dog bite like a Level 1 may not be as high as that of a major dog bite injury such as a Level 5.
Can I File a Lawsuit if Another Dog Bites My Dog?
Dog bite attacks on other dogs are one of the most common causes for emergency visits to the vet.
Dogs are classified as personal property in California and so situations where a dog has attacked another dog are not considered personal injury cases.
If your dog has unfortunately been bitten by someone else’s dog, you may likely be able to file a property damage lawsuit against the owner of the dog and reclaim the medical expenses of your dog's treatment.
After assessing the injury of your dog and getting your pet the veterinarian care they may need, remember to document the event and then prioritize speaking with a lawyer.
You may not need to file a lawsuit if the owner accepts responsibility and decides to settle out of court. A dog bite lawyer will be able to help you determine what the best course of action to take is.
What Types of Damages are Available to Dog Bite Victims?
Getting bit by a dog can come with a lot of physical, emotional and mental trauma. All of which are not cheap to deal with.
After a canine bite attack in California, you will most certainly be able to recover any lost damages due to your injuries.
Dog bite victims can request compensation for a number of damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Punitive damages
- Physical therapy
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Average Dog Bite Settlement Amounts in California
After being bitten by a dog, you may be wondering just how much settlement you are entitled to receive. Well, the amount of compensation you can receive changes based on what location the accident occurred in.
If you were bitten by a dog in California, the calculation of your compensation will be based on a couple of important factors such as:
- Severity of the injuries you sustained
- How much the injuries have affected your quality of life
- How much medical treatment was received
and other rehabilitation factors.
California law also sometimes punishes the dog owner due to their negligence or if the dog bite was as a clear result of their lack of attention. This allows for what is called punitive damages to be recovered by the victim of the dog bite.
There is no specific monetary amount for dog bite settlement cases, but the average dog bite settlement amount in California ranges anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
There is a statute of limitations for filing any personal injury case in California, including dog bite injury cases.
If you have been bitten by a dog and would like to file a dog bite injury claim against the dog owner, you must keep in mind that the time limit to do so in California is 2 years.
While two years may make you feel like you have all the time in the world to make such a decision, be aware that the process of filing a dog bite injury claim and recovering necessary damages can get tedious and complicated.
This is why it is advised to speak and consult with an expert California dog bite lawyer who will be able to ensure the seamless and timely process of a California dog bite lawsuit.
Keep in mind that if the lawsuit is not filed within the 2-year allotted time period, you may lose the right to recover your losses. This means your deadline begins on the day of your dog bite incident except the victim is a minor, in which case the statute of limitations may be extended until they turn 18.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of someone’s negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible for your losses. Our California dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can recover compensation for the losses you have suffered.
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