Irvine Dog Bite Attorney
How Common Are Dog Bites? What California Laws Have Been Established to Punish the At-Fault Party for Damages?
Dog attacks and dog bite injuries, especially those involving pit bull breeds, are fairly common in the Irvine area. The greater Orange County averages more than four dog bites a day, which translates to more than 1,500 dog bites every year.
Those numbers seem extreme, but it’s important to consider the circumstances. Most dog bites come from dogs that are familiar to their victims. They usually happen when an animal is startled or afraid. There are also unfortunate instances when a person provokes a dog into attacking them. What may start off as harmless teasing can easily result in a dog bite, especially when children are involved. There are also instances when someone enters a property and a dog attacks as a means of self-defense.
There are laws and regulations in California that regulate liability for dog owners whose animals bite someone. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a dog bite in the city of Irvine due to someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and more.
Please don’t hesitate to contact our 24/7 legal team by calling (949) 207-9619 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free consultation at our Irvine personal injury law firm.
Common Types of Dog Bite Incidents
Dangerous Dog Breeds. Some dogs are inherently dangerous and have been known to attack and bite people. Certain dog breeds have such a “bad” reputation, that many homeowner’s insurance policies actually exclude coverage for any damages caused by them. A few examples of such poorly maligned dog breeds include Pit Bulls and Rottweilers.
In the state of California, dangerous dog breeds are governed by breed specific ordinances. Among other legally mandated requirements, these ordinances mandate that dangerous dog breeds must be registered and spayed or neutered. A specific dog breed will not necessarily affect liability or damages, unless that dog had already bitten someone. In that case, a dog owner will be subject to additional legal repercussions because he or she already knew their dog was dangerous and did not take additional steps to prevent another attack.
Dog Attacks on Children. Dog attacks on children are delicate and will always raise special liability issues. Dog bites and attacks on children require extensive treatment for physical injuries and for emotional and mental trauma. Sadly, in the very worst cases, a dog attack on a child can be fatal. These types of attacks will often involve punitive damages on top of the normal damages a victim may already be entitled to. Punitive damages will be discussed in greater detail below, but are awarded when a dog owner behaved in an especially negligent or malicious manner.
Dog on Dog Attacks: A dog on dog attack is a real hazard because it can cause injuries and property loss to both people and dogs. Homeowner’s insurance policies sometimes cover a person’s damages, including pain and suffering, but the dog’s pain and suffering will not be covered. As mentioned, it is important to understand that many dangerous dog breeds will not be covered by homeowner’s insurance.
Non-Aggressive Dog Attacks. Sometimes a non-aggressive dog will unintentionally “attack” a human by knocking them over. This type of “attack” is common, and doesn’t include actual dog bites. Large breeds can easily weigh more than some people. A large, excitable dog can knock someone over that they may just be happy to see. Since this kind of attack doesn’t include a dog bite, normal negligence laws will apply.
For example, say that someone is walking their dog and the dog suddenly escapes its owner. The dog then knocks over someone, causing them to fall and suffer a sprained wrist. The dog didn’t actually bite this person, but still caused them to suffer injuries. However, there was no bite. Therefore, standard negligence laws will apply.
Strict Liability Laws and Damages
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. In other words, a dog owner cannot escape responsibility when their dog bites someone, even if that owner had no idea that their dog was capable of aggressive behavior. According to strict liability laws, a dog owner is responsible for any damages resulting from a dog bite, whether their dog had previously bitten someone.
Dog bite laws in California are very strict. If you suffered a dog bite, you only need to prove the bite occurred when you were in a public place or lawfully on someone’s private property. In these types of cases, an aggrieved individual is not required to show that the dog owner was negligent or didn’t take reasonable care.
Because dog bites have the potential to cause severe physical injuries as well as emotional trauma, an Irvine dog bite victim is typically entitled to compensation for their losses. Compensation for dog bite victims, also known as damages, may include:
- Emotional Distress
- Lost Wages
- Property Loss
- Medical Bills
- Physical/Vocational Therapy
- Psychological Counseling
- Lost Earning Capacity
- Loss of Limb(s)
Unfortunately, dog bite cases can sometimes be fatal. Therefore, surviving family members of anyone who was killed after a dog attack are entitled to the recovery of damages on the decedent’s behalf. These types of claims are filed as a wrongful death claim.
Certain family members, including spouses/registered domestic partners and children of the deceased are entitled to compensation for burial costs, funeral expenses, lost income, and emotional support the deceased would have provided had he or she survived the dog attack.
What Are Punitive Damages?
A dog bite victim may sometimes be entitled to the recovery of punitive damages, but in very rare cases. Punitive damages are uncommon and are intended to punish a defendant who engaged in particularly egregious and deliberately harmful behavior. In order for a dog bite victim to recover punitive damages, he or she must prove that a dog owner’s actions were malicious in nature.
In other words, it must be proven that a dog owner acted “with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.”
For example, if a dog owner trains their dog to attack and kill and then commands that dog to attack, a victim would almost certainly be entitled to the recovery of punitive damages, on top of the normal compensatory damages he or she would already be entitled to.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Always Here to Help
If you have suffered a dog bite in the city of Irvine due to negligence or deliberate acts of malice, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible for your losses. An Irvine dog bite attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers can recover compensation for your losses.
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