Dog Bite Claims in California

Dog Bite Claims in California

Dog Bite Claims in California

I’m Ed Smith, a Merced dog bite lawyer. To most people, pets are considered to be a loving member of their family. While pets such as dogs can be loyal and lovable, they may sometimes bite others unexpectedly. With 4.5 million cases of dog bites and 800,000 medical visits each year in the country, the potential liability for dog owners can be worrisome, particularly with specific breeds.

Which Dog Breeds are More Likely to Bite?

Some of the dog breeds which may exhibit aggressive behavior and are more likely to bite than others include:

  • American Bulldog
  • Chow Chow
  • Pit Bulls
  • Siberian Husky
  • Rottweilers
  • Dogo Argentino
  • German Shepherd
  • Bullmastiff
  • Great Dane

Preventing Dog Bite Injuries in Children

Children suffer the highest risk for dog bites as research has shown a correlation between these injuries and poor recognition in canine body language. To reduce the chance of these injuries to your children, follow these tips:

  • Advise your children to maintain a safe distance from barking, growling or frightened dogs, especially if they are not contained by a leash;
  • Children should be taught not to play, touch or approach any dog who is chewing on a toy, sleeping, eating or providing care to puppies;
  • Dogs can be territorial of their home space. Children should be taught not to pet dogs who are in cars or behind fences;
  • If an unleashed dog approaches an adolescent, he or she should not run or scream. Instead, teach your child to avoid eye contact with a dog and stand still like a “stone” until the dog leaves. A child can slowly walk away when the dog loses interest;
  • Kids should be advised of what to do in a situation when a dog knocks them to the ground. When this happens, he or she should pull their body up into a ball, with their knees tucked into their stomach and their hands clasped to their neck to protect the ears and neck area.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Getting bitten by a dog can leave an individual with physical and emotional damage. Below are some types of devastating injuries associated with dog bites:

  • Bone fractures can occur if the dog is of a larger variety;
  • Lacerations to the lower body, arms, neck and face;
  • Nerve damage, which may lead to severe pain and issues with mobility of the damaged limb;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • Puncture wounds can be severe if the wounds are deep. These may require emergency treatment to clean the area to avoid an infection;
  • Infections can require intensive treatment and medication, which can prove fatal in some cases. Approximately 20 percent of dog bites cause infections, according to the National Institutes of Health;
  • Scarring can occur after a bite and may require surgery to repair;
  • Tissue loss or amputation.

Dog Owner Liability 

Dog owners in California are obligated to take steps in preventing dog bites. Owners who fail to do so are responsible for resulting damages, whether at a public setting or on private property, under California Civil Code 3342. In the case of a dog bite occurring on a private property, the victim must have been either performing a duty like making a delivery or visiting the residence as a guest. Certain parties are exempt to this law, including military and police personnel with canines.

Recoverable Damages in a Dog Bite Claim

A party who has sustained a dog bite injury in California is entitled to recover several types of damages, including:

  • Medical Expenses: The costs of necessary and reasonable medical treatment associated with a dog bite injury can be recovered. All forms of medical treatment and care, whether diagnostic testing, scar revisions, surgery, therapy and hospital are recoverable;
  • Future Medical Expenses: These require some measure of estimation to reach a reasonable amount, which must supported by substantial evidence. This can include a testimony of a medical physician or specialist familiar with the injury as to what ongoing treatments and additional procedures may be needed as well as current market costs of drugs, treatments and procedures necessary in managing the condition or completing recovery;
  • Lost Income: Wages the individual would have earned had he or she not suffered a dog bite injury may be recovered. Lost income can include not only wages lost to date but also wages that the individual might have received in the future;
  • Disfigurement: Dog bites can sometimes leave unsightly marks, especially if the individual developed keloid scarring. These scars form when an area of the skin is injured and excessive scar tissue forms over the wound as a way to repair and protect the injury. Those left with these types of scarring are entitled to recover for the humiliation or embarrassment related to the disfigurement. In addition, the costs of a cosmetic surgery may also be considered for recovery;
  • Pain and Suffering: Also known as “general damages”, these are deemed as the most valuable element of a personal injury claim. This type of damage allows the right to compensation for the mental anguish and physical pain an individual may have suffered as a result of their injury.

How a Dog Bite Attorney Can Help

Time is of the essence in a dog bite case. According to the statute of limitations in California, an individual has a maximum of two years to bring a claim for damages following a dog bite injury. Filing such claims can often be difficult as sufficient facts and evidence must be presented in order to prove negligence on behalf of a dog owner or caretaker. If you or someone you love has sustained a dog bite, you have legal options under state law to be compensated for losses incurred. Contacting an experienced dog bite attorney is crucial in these types of cases to protect your right to a favorable outcome.

Merced Dog Bite Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Merced dog bite lawyer. Dog bites are serious matters which can lead to dangerous complications to those affected. If you or a loved one have suffered a dog bite, contact me for free, friendly legal advice at (209) 227-1931 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400.

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I am a California member of the Million Dollar Advocates, an exclusive forum comprised of trial attorneys who have obtained million dollar client verdicts or settlements.

To view a list of past case summaries, go to our Verdicts and Settlements page.

Image Source: By “freegr” via Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons

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