According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 38 percent of American households have one or more dogs as pets. When properly trained, dogs can make family-friendly pet, but these animals can also perform important services and provide therapeutic benefits. Regrettably, not every dog is trained, and not every dog is familiar with other people. When a dog is suddenly threatened, it can unexpectedly bite a person, causing very serious injuries.
Dog owners in California are automatically held responsible when their pet has caused injuries to another person as a result of a bite. Based on the California Civil Code §3342, dog owners are legally responsible for the damages suffered by a person who has been bitten by their dog. Responsibility is only possible when the incident has occurred while the person was lawfully in private property or was otherwise in a public place. Based on California’s dog bite statute, a dog owner cannot argue that he or she was unaware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
What To Do Following a Dog Bite
Although California holds dog owners strictly responsible for damages caused by a dog bite, building a case against the pet owner can still be challenging. The following steps can help establish a strong case against the pet owner:
Obtaining Medical Attention – Addressing the injury immediately after the dog bite incident is critically important. Unbeknownst to many, dog bites can develop serious complications that can be aggravated without a proper medical evaluation. Additionally, establishing a medical record is paramount in a personal injury claim.
Documenting the Attack – Most dog bite cases will be invalid if there is insufficient evidence documenting the matter. Call your local Humane Society or Animal Control Agency to help you investigate. The following evidence should be collected after a dog bite: Police report, Medical record, Medical bills, loss of wages, Witness testimony, Dog owner’s contact information, Video surveillance, and Pictures of the place where the attack took place.
Damages Available in a Dog Bite Case
The amount of compensation available after a dog bite will vary depending on the specifics of the case. Generally, compensation can be attainable for the following damages:
Economic Damages – These are financial losses the victim has suffered following the dog bite. They can include but are not limited to: Medical treatment costs, Future medical costs, loss of income, and Permanent incapacitation.
Non-Economic Damages – These damages are intangible losses, and can include the following: Disfigurement, Scarring, Emotional anguish, Pain and suffering, and Loss of quality of life.
Punitive Damages – When a dog bite case involves egregious actions from the dog owner, the victim may be awarded punitive damages. These damages can sometimes be awarded when the dog owner’s actions were intentional or if they purposefully set out to injure the victim.
Wrongful Death – If the dog bite victim loses his or her life as a result of a dog mauling incident, the victim’s family can file a claim for wrongful death damages. The victim’s survivors may be able to obtain compensation for the following: The victim’s medical care costs before death, Funeral expenses, Burial and memorial service costs, Loss of companionship, and Loss of household services.
Speak to a Well-Versed Dog Bite Attorney
The injuries caused by a dog bite can have far-reaching repercussions. If you or a loved one was recently bitten by a dog, obtaining proficient legal counsel is important. A skilled injury attorney will carefully investigate the case and help you obtain full compensation.
The attorneys at Martinez & Schill, LLP are exceptionally skilled in challenging dog bite cases. The firm understands that following a dog bite, most victims will experience severe financial difficulty. As a result, the dedicated team at Martinez & Schill, LLP works hard in ensuring injured victims obtain the maximum amount of compensation available. Consider scheduling a no-obligation consultation with the firm today.