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Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyer

Our Personal Injury Lawyers Are Readily Available to Represent You

Dog bites and attacks are some of the most traumatizing types of accidents a person can be involved in. If you have suffered devastating physical or emotional injuries as a result of a dog bite in Los Angeles, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Making the liable party pay for their negligence may be overwhelming while you are recuperating from your injuries. Fortunately, when you have a dedicated Los Angeles dog bite injury lawyer at West Coast Trial Lawyers on your side, you can rest easier while we work on building a powerful case against the liable party. Contact our office today to schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation.

Common Dog Bite Injuries to Sue for

Many people are quick to assume that dog bite injuries are minor. However, under the worst conditions, dog bite injuries can have a lasting impact on the victim’s life for years to come. Not only do dog bites and attacks cause severe physical injuries, but the emotional trauma of the attack can be debilitating.

The more impactful your injuries are on your life, the more you can expect to be awarded in your case. With that in mind, some of the more common types of dog bite injuries seen include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussion
  • Head injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Herniated discs
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Organ failure
  • Lacerations leading to sepsis
  • Compound fractures and broken bones
  • Facial injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of limbs
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Emotional injuries
  • Contusions
  • Abrasions

If you suffered another type of injury in a dog attack or bite, you may still have the right to financial compensation. To find out whether you have grounds for a claim, be sure to contact a dog bite attorney in Los Angeles for a free evaluation of your case.

California Dog Bite Laws

When it comes to dog bites, California is a strict liability state. As long as a dog bite occurred in a public place or lawfully on private property — including the dog owner’s property — the dog owner will be held liable for any injuries. Dog bites are emotionally and physically devastating injuries and will always require medical attention. Despite how violent a dog bite can be, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk and severity of an attack. There are also clear warning signs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in an estimated 800,000 injuries that require medical attention. Injuries from a dog bite make up 85% to 90% of animal bites in the U.S., and 1% of injury-related visits to the emergency room.

According to 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 in a public place or while lawfully on private property. However, this statute does not apply to any victims who suffered a dog bite while a dog was engaged in police or military work.

Also, it is necessary for an injury to be caused by a dog bite, and not by another behavior on the dog’s part. For example, imagine that a child is reading on a public sidewalk and a dog jumps on him or her, accidentally scratching that child’s face and causing minor injuries. However, because the child’s injury was not caused by an actual bite, this statute will not apply. Instead, standard California negligence rules apply. Ultimately, this means an injured victim who was not bitten must prove that the dog owner’s negligence was the primary cause of any injuries sustained.

What Is the One Bite Law?

Many states actually abide by what’s known as the “one bite rule.” This means that these states will not impose liability for a dog bite unless the owner was aware that his or her dog had already bitten someone or had previously proven to be dangerous.The state of California does not follow this “one bite rule.” In contrast to “one bite rule” states, California will impose strict liability after a dog bite.

An aggrieved party does not have to prove the dog who bit them had bitten before, displayed aggressive tendencies, or even that the dog owner acted negligently. California law will impose an added duty of care on a dog owner if their dog had previously displayed it was capable of violent behavior. Any owner of such a dog is required to take reasonable steps to keep that dog from biting or attacking anyone. Failure to do so may result in liability.

Strict Liability in a Dog Bite Case

In relation to dog bites, California is a strict liability state. This means a dog owner cannot escape liability for a dog bite even if they had no idea that their dog would behave aggressively. According to strict liability, a dog owner will be held responsible for any damages resulting from a dog bite, whether the dog had previously bitten someone or not.

In summary, if you suffered a dog bite, you only need to prove the bite occurred when you were in a public place or while lawfully on someone’s private property. In such instances, there is no requirement for an aggrieved individual to show the dog owner was negligent or didn’t take reasonable care.

When Can I Sue for a Dog Bite in Los Angeles?

As mentioned, California Civil Code section 3342 is the state’s primary civil dog bite statute. According to CC 3342, a dog owner will automatically be held liable for injuries caused to others if:the victim did not provoke the dog into biting the victim while in public or on private property. More than 50% of dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property, and they account for one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims.

A dog bite victim will NOT usually be entitled to damages in California when:

  • They were deliberately provoked the dog
  • They were trespassing on private property
  • The dog was engaged in military or police work
  • The dog was protecting the owner or someone else according to California’s self-defense laws

What Happens to the Dog That Bit Me?

California dog bite quarantine laws mandate that any dogs who have bitten someone must be quarantined for ten days. This period of time is necessary to ensure that the animal is not carrying rabies.The dog will usually be allowed to remain on the owner’s property during this time. Once it has been determined that the dog is healthy, it will be released back into the owner’s care.

Dogs who bite people are not typically euthanized. Euthanasia is only permitted by law for dogs who bite in California if:the dog had already bitten someone on two separate occasionsthe dog was trained to attack or kill, had bitten once, and that bite caused substantial physical injury.

Any dogs who meet the above requirements can be taken away from their owners and can be euthanized after a hearing. A hearing process can be initiated by any individual, including the dog bite victim, a concerned member of the community, or a government official.

Types of Dog Bite Cases

Below are the four most common types of dog bite cases:

  • Dog On Dog Attacks: Dog on dog aggression is dangerous because it has the potential to cause injuries to people and dogs. A homeowner’s insurance policy may cover a person’s damages in such an incident, including pain and suffering, but unfortunately a dog’s pain and suffering is not covered.
  • Non-Aggressive Dog Attacks. Instances where a non-aggressive dog unintentionally attacks a human by knocking them over or tripping them are common. Large breeds in particular can easily weigh more than some people. A large, excitable dog can easily knock down and injure a person they may just be happy to see.
  • Dangerous Dog Breeds There are some dogs that are inherently dangerous and have already been known to attack and bite people. It’s important to know that a vast majority of homeowner’s insurance policies will exclude coverage for any damages caused by dangerous dog breeds, such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. In California, dangerous dog breeds are governed by breed specific ordinances that, among other things, mandate that such breeds must be registered and spayed/neutered.
  • Dog Attacks On Children. A dog attack on a child will always raise unique liability issues, because dog bites and attacks on children require treatment not only for physical injuries, but for emotional and mental trauma. In the worst cases, dog attacks on children can be fatal. A victim of such an attack may also be entitled to punitive damages on top of the normal damages they may already be entitled to.

California Shared Fault Laws

It is more common than you might think to be accused of sharing liability for your injuries following a dog attack. Dog owners will be held strictly liable for the actions of their pets, so you can expect them to try to argue that you are partially responsible for causing your injuries. Dog owners may be able to escape liability if the injury victim was trespassing at the time of the accident or provoked the dog into acting aggressively.

Sharing fault for your injuries under California law, however, does not bar you from financial recovery. Since the state follows a pure comparative negligence system, you have the right to be compensated for your damages, even if you share fault.

You can expect to be required to answer for your percentage of liability in your insurance and civil claims. This is done by reducing the amount of compensation you are awarded by your percentage of liability. For example, if you were found 25% liable for your dog by injuries, you could reasonably expect to recover only 75% of your dog by injury settlement. The more fault you share for the accident, the less you can collect from your injury settlement.

For this reason, it is imperative to have a Los Angeles dog bite attorney on your side who will protect your right to maximum compensation. When the defense tries to place unwarranted blame on you, your attorney will step in and ensure that you are not taken advantage of during this difficult time in your life.

What to Expect From the Dog Bite Claims Process

One of the top reasons why more people do not pursue legal action following dog bites is because they do not understand how the claims process works. It is easy to be intimidated and overwhelmed by what appears to be a difficult litigation process. However, when you have the right legal representative on your side, you may feel more confident in your decision to pursue your case.

Every person’s dog bite claim process can take a different course depending on the individual details of the case. For example, some families may be able to obtain the compensation they are entitled to through an insurance settlement. However, if the dog’s owner does not have insurance coverage protecting them, or if their insurance company does not adequately cover your damages, bringing your case to court may be the only way to recover maximum compensation for your damages.

With that in mind, the majority of dog bite claims processes include the following:

  • You hire a dog bite lawyer in Los Angeles
  • Your attorney begins investigating the incident
  • The investigation produces evidence to support your case
  • Your lawyer establishes dog owner culpability
  • Your attorney calculates the value of your dog bite claim
  • You prepare to file your claim with the insurance company
  • Your lawyer steps in and negotiates with the insurer
  • Your attorney prepares to bring your case to court
  • Your dog bite lawyer in Los Angeles advocates for maximum compensation at trial

To get a better idea of what the dog bite claims process might look like for your case, reach out to a knowledgeable Los Angeles dog bite attorney at our firm to discuss the individual details of your case.

Available Damages in a Los Angeles Dog Bite Claim

Many dog bite victims are surprised to learn how much they are entitled to recover in their claim. There are generally two ways to recover compensation following a dog attack. These include filing a claim with the insurance company and bringing your case to court. Dog owners will typically be represented by some type of renters insurance, homeowners insurance, or another type of insurance policy.

When you file a claim with the insurance company, you can collect certain types and amounts of economic damages. Economic damages are financial. They can be proven with pay stubs, bank records, receipts, and other financial statements. Some commonly awarded economic damages in dog bite insurance claims include:

  • Costs of diagnostic imaging
  • Hospital bills
  • Prescription medication fees
  • Medical equipment costs
  • Co-pays
  • Ongoing mental health counseling
  • Property damages
  • Loss of income

However, the insurance company will not cover every type of economic loss. Some of the other types of economic damages you may be entitled to recover but may have to pursue in Los Angeles civil courts include:

  • Costs of increased insurance premiums
  • Future medical care
  • Loss of potential future earnings, including salary increases, 401(k) contributions, bonuses, and other benefits
  • Unexpected child care expenses
  • Costs of household upkeep and maintenance

You also have the right to recover non-economic damages. These are more difficult to quantify as they do not have a monetary value. Your dog bite lawyer will need to place a value on them to ensure they are taken into consideration when calculating the value of your claim. Some of the more commonly awarded types of non-economic damages you can seek in your Los Angeles dog bite lawsuit include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Inconvenience
  • Damage to your reputation
  • Loss of guidance and support
  • Loss of advice and society
  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Mental anguish
  • Skin scarring and disfigurement
  • Diminished quality of life

Further, the surviving family members of anyone who was killed by a dog may be entitled to damages on the decedent’s behalf. Such a claim would be filed as a wrongful death case and would possibly entitle survivors to additional damages.

An aggrieved individual may be able to recover punitive damages in certain cases. Punitive damages are rarely awarded and are intended to punish a defendant who has engaged in particularly egregious behavior.

In order for a dog bite victim to recover punitive damages, he or she must prove with clear and convincing evidence that the dog owner’s actions were fraudulent or malicious in nature.This essentially means the dog owner acted “with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.”

Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite Claim

All states have a statute of limitations which places a deadline on a personal injury lawsuit. A dog bite case is considered as a personal injury claim. California’s statute of limitation on a personal injury case is two years. This means that an injured dog bite victim has two years from the time the dog bite first occurred in order to preserve their rights and file a claim in court.

However, the exact date in which the statute of limitations will expire for your dog bite claim can vary considerably depending on the date the accident occurred, when you were diagnosed with injuries related to the dog bite or attack, and several other factors. If you hope to avoid the statute of limitations preventing you from total recovery, it is important to get an experienced dog bite attorney in Los Angeles on your case.

Your attorney will handle the legal details of your case to ensure procedural issues, including the statute of limitations, will not adversely impact your ability to obtain full compensation for your suffering.

Costs of Hiring a Dog Bite Lawyer

After everything you have been through, the thought of hiring an attorney can be intimidating. When you are stretched financially due to the accident, it may seem impossible to get a qualified dog bite lawyer on your side. However, the vast majority of respected dog bite attorneys across Los Angeles will be willing to work with you on contingency.

Contingency agreements allow injury victims to pursue legal action against liable parties without having to cover any costs upfront. Instead, your dog bite lawyer will handle all of the financial expenses relating to building a powerful case against the liable party. This might include hiring experts, paying court fees, the costs of running forensic evidence, and other costs.

Then, once your attorney wins your case, you will pay a portion of your injury settlement to your attorney for their services. However, it is important to know that if your dog bite lawyer does not produce a recovery in your case, you will not have to worry about paying us anything. In this way, reaching out to a lawyer for help following a dog bite poses minimal risk to you.

If an attorney takes on your case, they are assuming the risks associated with your claim. You can find out more about what your contingency agreements might look like during your consultation with your attorney.

Los Angeles Dog Bite FAQ

Following a dog bite or attack, you may have countless unanswered questions about what you have been through, what to do next, and what to expect in the future.

In the hopes of using some of your concerns, we have provided the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding dog bites in Los Angeles. If you have further questions that were not addressed on this page, be sure to contact our office so we can discuss your specific concerns in greater detail.

Can I File a Claim for My Injured Child?

Yes, if you are the child’s legal guardian or parent, you may have the right to file a civil lawsuit or insurance claim against the dog’s owner. Children have the same right to financial compensation that adults do. In fact, children who suffer injuries in dog attacks may have to deal with the fall out of the attack for years to come.

It is not uncommon for injured children to be traumatized, develop debilitating fears of dogs, and otherwise struggle to cope emotionally. Fortunately, with help from a dog bite lawyer in Los Angeles, you can help your child get justice.

Are Certain Dog Breeds Outlawed in California?

Yes, the state of California has strict animal ownership laws. In certain communities across the state, certain dog breeds such as Pitbulls, Rottweilers, or wolf-hybrids may not be permitted as pets. Other types of dog breeds may be considered more dangerous than others.

However, it is important to remember that the breed of dog does not necessarily determine whether a dog is more likely to attack. Animals are unpredictable by nature. This is why dog owners are ultimately responsible for the actions of their pet.

What if I’m Not Sure Who Owns the Dog That Bit Me?

If you are not sure who owns the dog that bit or attacked you, it is important to report the incident to the Los Angeles animal control. You can give them a description of the dog, how the attack occurred, where you may have seen the dog run to, and provide them with other valuable information so they can identify and locate the dog’s owner.

Meet With a Dog Bite Attorney in Los Angeles

When you are feeling scared and overwhelmed by what you have been through, and you are not sure where to turn for help, reach out to a compassionate Los Angeles dog bite lawyer at West Coast Trial Lawyers.

Our firm is proud to offer no-cost, risk-free consultations to dog bite injury victims across Los Angeles and nearby cities. Claim yours when you complete our convenient contact form or call our office at 213-927-3700.

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