With over 75 million dogs owned as pets in the U.S., dog bites are prevalent. Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually, and 20% of those bitten require medical attention. Unfortunately, children and seniors are most likely to be severely injured by a dog bite.
If a dog bit you, in public, or while lawfully in a private place, California law states the owner of the dog is liable for damages suffered. It does not matter if the dog had not bitten anyone prior, was on a leash, or if the owner tried to restrain the dog. Often victims avoid filing a lawsuit because the owner of the dog is a friend or relative. Remember that even if the dog bite occurred at a relative’s home, the insurance carrier usually pays for a settlement instead of the actual dog owner.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, an estimated 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S., and one in five of these dog bites require medical attention. Dog bites can result in severe life long scarring, bodily disfigurement, and sometimes death. If a dog has attacked you or a member of your family, you may have a claim against the dog owner. There are strict dog bite liability laws in the state of California. These laws state that the dog owner is solely liable for an attack, even if the dog did not have a known propensity to bite or act aggressively in the past. Due to these dog bite liability laws, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills as well as pain and sufferings endured by a dog bite attack.
Our lawyers at Freeway Law have extensive knowledge of the laws that govern dog bite cases. They can help you determine how to proceed when an unfortunate accident occurs. We fully dedicate ourselves and our resources to help you fight for a fair and just settlement.
Who Is Liable in the State of California?
The defendant is almost always the owner of the dog. However, there are some exceptions to who is liable in dog bite cases. These exceptions vary depending on the details of the case. The following parties may also be held responsible for damages in the state of California:
- The Dogs Caretaker: If the dog was under the responsibility or control of another person or business when the dog bite occurred, that party might be held responsible for your damages. However, a caretaker will only be held liable if they had prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive nature, or if the dog was negligently being controlled or handled.
- Landlords: A landlord may be liable for a dog bite if the bite occurs on the landlord’s property, which they are leasing out. The landlord must also have had prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive behavior and failed to use their right to remove the dog from their property. Commercial property landowners may also be liable.
- Property Owners: If the dog happens to escape from a residential property and bites someone off-site, the property owner may be held liable for your damages because they failed to prevent the dog from escaping.
What You Need To Provide For Your Dog Bite Claim
For you to proceed successfully with your dog bite claim, you must be able to show proof that:
- The defendant owned the dog at the time of the bite;
- The attack occurred when the victim was lawfully on public or private property;
- The victim was bitten by the dog, resulting in bodily injury.
Essential Steps to Take After a Dog Bite in California
Dog bite cases can result in a complicated legal battle when trying to recover fair compensation. At Freeway Law, we are here to ease the process for you. There are also steps you can take to help strengthen your case:
- Immediately take pictures of any injuries that occurred and of the dog that caused them;
- Seek medical attention for treatment;
- Locate the contact information for the owner of the dog that bit you;
- Report the attack to local animal control or the sheriff’s department; and
- Contact a California dog bite lawyer to discuss your case.
You should speak to a dog bite attorney before speaking with your or the defendant’s insurance companies. You should not agree to, or sign any legal documentation, before consulting with the attorneys at Freeway Law regarding your dog bite case.
Speaking with a dog bite attorney is crucial when an attack occurs because insurance companies are more concerned with protecting themselves than compensating you for your medical bills or other trauma. Insurance companies will either try to pay the least amount possible or avoid a payout altogether. Accepting such settlements without consulting an attorney could result in low-ball offers that may not include damages you are entitled to, which could consist of future medical expenses, emotional trauma, or pain and suffering.
If you have been injured by a dog bite, don’t hesitate to call us at (844) 443-7339 for a FREE consultation to discuss your rights and compensation.