Dogs are an important part of many American families. They are loved and thought of as more than just pets.
Because dog bite cases can be so serious and emotionally charged, dog bite victims need to be prepared for any and everything.
Any kind of dog can attack, especially when the owner or handler is not paying attention. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog (or other pet) in California, let the animal liability attorneys at eAccidents prepare you for what lies ahead.
Dog Bite Statistics
There are more than 70 million dogs in the United States. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that approximately 35% of US households own a dog.
While most dogs are friendly, dogs do occasionally attack humans. Every year there are at least 800,000 reported dog bite cases across the country that require medical attention.
Because of their smaller size and inability to defend themselves, children under the age of ten are likely to suffer the most severe dog bite injuries.
The dog breeds most often associated with attacks are:
- Pit bulls;
- German Shepherds;
- Doberman Pinschers; and
But a dog’s breed is not always an exact indicator of how dangerous that dog might be. A dog’s lack of training, lack of respect, and perception of danger may also cause a dog to attack a human.
Liability for Dog Bites in California
In California, the owner or keeper of a dog is strictly liable for injuries to those who are bitten by their dog, unless the victim was trespassing, harassing, or provoking the dog, or committing a crime. In other words, there is no requirement to prove that the owner was negligent in any way.
As the plaintiff in a dog bite claim in California, you only need to prove that:
- The dog bit you;
- It was the defendant’s dog; and
- You were injured.
If the dog was tormented, excited, provoked, etc., those actions will be a defense to liability, either reducing or barring your claim. Provoking, annoying, or harming an animal is not acceptable behavior, and California law recognizes this, except if the victim is very young and, as such, lacks the requisite intent.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries in California
If you are bitten by a dog, you have the right to be compensated by the owner or their insurance provider, for any resulting injuries and losses that you suffer. However, you should be aware that many insurance companies will either not cover an owner’s liability for any dog bites, or for those inflicted by certain breeds of dogs—which will typically be listed in the insured’s policy as being excluded.
If the dog owner’s insurance does not cover your dog bite, your only option will be to try to go after the owner’s personal assets. That means that you must determine whether the dog owner has enough assets to warrant you going after them to recover compensation for your injuries and losses.
This is a difficult investigation to perform involving many types of asset checks, and it requires the assistance of an attorney to determine what damages you may be able to recover from the dog owner. If the dog owner does not have enough resources to cover the full amount of your claim, you may simply be out of luck.
What to Do After You Have Been Bitten by a Dog in California?
Filing a dog bite claim in California is essentially the same as filing any other type of personal injury claim, such as a car accident claim. It starts with taking action and gathering evidence to support your claim.
Here are the steps you need to take after you have been bitten by a dog in California:
- See a doctor or physician immediately. Even a minor dog bite can transmit rabies, bacteria, or dangerous viruses.
- Report the attack. A police report is official evidence of the attack and will be very helpful when negotiating a settlement with an insurance company.
- Collect information. Get the name, address, and insurance information from the dog owner themselves, or from the landlord or building owner. Also, take down the names and contact information for any witnesses to the dog attack.
- Find out what kind of dog bit you. Ask the owner or handler about the breed of the dog.
- Take photos of your injuries. Ask someone to help you take very clear pictures of your dog bite injuries, the dog, and the site where the dog bite took place. The sooner, the better. If possible, also take a video of the dog. There is nothing more convincing than a video of a dog displaying aggressive and vicious behavior.
- Gather copies of your medical records. This includes copies of your emergency room admission chart, doctor’s notes, lab results, and documentation of all of your hospital visits.
- Save the clothes you were wearing. Save the clothes you were wearing when you were attacked by the dog, especially if the bite drew blood.
- Consult with a California animal liability attorney. An animal liability attorney, like the experts at eAccidents, can help you gather the evidence you need to hold the dog owner and their insurance provider responsible for your injuries and to recover the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one was the victim of an animal attack in California, call eAccidents today at 844-400-0123. We offer a free case evaluation with a qualified and experienced California animal liability attorney.