Over 4 million animal bite injuries occur in the United States each year, and dog bites account for the most frequent causes of these injuries. Dog bites require immediate medical attention to prevent infection and further injury to bones and other tissues. While household pets tend to be vaccinated, there may be instances in which a dog is carrying rabies or a similarly harmful disease. Dog bite injuries take time to properly heal and can have lasting consequences for the injured. Ligaments, tendons and bones can all be damaged by the force of a dog bite, which can produce long-term health issues such as arthritis and permanent scarring. Additional medical procedures - both necessary and cosmetic - may greatly impact the total cost of recovery. Additionally, dog bites often leave emotional scars on the victim, causing a lifelong fear of dogs and other household animals. Ongoing psychological treatment may be required to manage prolonged suffering.
If you have been bitten by a dog, you are encouraged to speak with personal injury lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and options.
Dog owners are responsible for keeping their dogs under control at all times. In California, dogs are not allowed outside without a leash, and aggressive dogs require muzzles in order to comply with local and state laws. Responsible dog owners take care to ensure their pets are properly trained to keep the public safe from harm.
California has created specific dog bite laws to assist injured parties in recovering damages for any medical or financial costs incurred after a dog bite. Section 3342 of California’s Civil Code states that a dog owner can be held liable when an injury caused by a dog bite has occurred in a public place or private place in which you were lawfully granted access. In order for this statute to apply, a dog bite must have occurred outside any canine police or military work. Additionally, the injury must have occurred due to a bite, and it bars any other type of animal behavior that may have caused injury.The best way to determine if your claim would fall under the statute is to speak with personal injury lawyers.
A statute of limitations places a deadline on an injured victim’s ability to file a lawsuit and recover for their losses. Statute of limitations laws vary from state to state and injury type. In California, a statute of limitations for personal injury claims does exist, requiring victims to file their claims within two years of the date of injury. Because dog bites would be considered a personal injury claim, victims have up to two years after the date of an incident to seek compensation for their losses. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident can ensure your claims are appropriately addressed and filed in a timely manner.
It’s important to remember that California’s dog bite statute requires that the injury occurred in a public place or in a lawfully private place. If a victim was found to be trespassing when a dog bite occurred, they will not be able to recover any damages. As such, dog owners may assert that a victim was “trespassing” when a dog bite occurred, and therefore defend against any legal claims. Similarly, military and government agencies may assert that the dog bite occurred within the dog’s legal duties as part of the force. These defenses only apply if the dog bite occurred within the scope of the dog’s duties, or when the agency responsible for the dog has enacted written policies to manage these types of incidents.
States typically apply either ‘strict liability’ or ‘negligence’ burdens of proof on all personal injury cases. A ‘negligence’ state would require the injured party to establish that the injuries resulted from the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care in an accident. In a ‘strict liability’ state, however, a defendant is held strictly liable the moment an accident occurs. As a strict liability state, California dog owners are held liable in the event of a dog bite injury or accident. If you have suffered a dog bite, you must only show that the dog bite occurred in a public or private space. It is not necessary to prove that the owner was careless with the dog or that they knew the dog had a propensity to attack. These laws make it far easier to bring a successful claim for a dog bite with the help of an experienced injury attorney.
Unfortunately, most standard insurance claims prevent victims from receiving adequate compensation for their medical care after a dog bite. Typically, insurance companies will be focused on settling a claim as quickly and advantageously as possible, and they will not take into account the ripple effects a dog bite can cause to your health and well-being.
Working with personal injury lawyers will ensure your claims are properly assessed and investigated, so you can care for your wounds and heal without the stress of a financial burden. Our well-respected attorneys will ensure that any settlement offers negotiated with an insurance company take into account the full breadth of consequences a dog bite injury can have on a victim.
Contact us for a free initial consultation, where we can discuss the details surrounding your case and offer helpful and considerate advice about how to proceed and what to expect. Schedule your FREE consultation by calling 310-273-7300.
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