Under California law, a dog owner can be held strictly liable for the injuries caused by a dog attack. Being the victim of a dog attack can be a traumatic, life-changing experience. You may have costly medical bills for ongoing medical treatment, chronic pain, emotional and physical scarring, and psychological trauma. It can be difficult for many victims of dog attacks to hold the dog owner responsible because they are afraid something will happen to the dog. In other cases, the dog owner refuses to take responsibility for the dog attack, fearing their pet will be taken away. However, a dog owner must be held responsible for not preventing the dog attack, otherwise, the dog will attack again.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog attack, you can hold the dog owner and their insurance company responsible for your injuries and other damages. An experienced dog bite lawyer can guide you through this challenging legal process and ensure you receive compensation for your injuries and other losses.
If you have been seriously injured in a dog attack, your focus should be on getting to safety and seeking medical treatment. However, if you’re able to, there are some steps you can take that can help build your claim against the dog owner.
Contact the police and animal control immediately after the attack. They will investigate the incident and speak to the dog owner. They will also write up an incident report, which will be used as evidence in your claim. When speaking to either the police or animal control, be as factual as possible.
Use your phone to take photos of your injuries, the dog, and the area where the attack occurred. If it happened on the dog owner’s property, take photos of the fence and anything else you believe could be considered evidence.
Depending on the severity of the attack, you may be unable to walk and may need emergency medical attention. Even if you do not require immediate medical attention, head to an emergency room to have your injuries treated right away. Dog bites are prone to infection. The wound or wounds must be cleaned right away before any sutures are applied.
Follow the emergency room doctor’s treatment recommendations and make an appointment with your primary doctor for follow-up treatment as soon as possible. Your medical records will also be used as evidence in your personal injury claim.
Report the incident to the appropriate government agency. This can either be an animal control agency or a law enforcement agency.
An insurance adjuster may contact you shortly after the attack to get your side of the story. The insurance company is not on your side. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible. They will listen to your story and ask questions in an attempt to trick you into admitting fault or wrongdoing. Avoid speaking to an insurance company until you have talked to an attorney.
Contact an experienced Orange County dog bite attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will take over all communication with the insurance company and the dog owner’s lawyer, to protect your claim.
There are a variety of laws that can apply to a dog bite injury claim. The dog attack victim should be made aware of the degree to which these laws can hold a dog owner liable. In many cases, victims of dog bites do not get taken seriously until they hire an attorney. An attorney will build a strong case before negotiations take place with an insurance company.
The attorney will find out if the dog has any history of aggressive behavior. If the dog does have a history, the attorney can hold the owner strictly liable for any damages the dog has caused.
Another important step is determining whether or not the owner may have violated any county or city laws. Some laws can be used to hold a dog owner liable for damages even if the dog has no prior history of aggressive behavior. Many counties have leash laws that are designed to protect people from dog attacks and bites.
If anyone witnessed the attack, the attorney would have an investigator get their account of the attack. This will be very important since a dog owner may claim that the dog was provoked before it attacked.
The lawyer will also calculate the amount of compensation the victim is entitled to. This can include past, present, and future, medical care, disfigurement, lost wages, and compensation for certain types of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
An insurance company is determined to pay dog bite victims as little as possible. An experienced attorney will know how to negotiate with insurance companies to ensure they offer a fair settlement and don't take advantage of you.
If the insurance company is refusing to play ball and continues to offer an unreasonably low settlement, a dog bite attorney will be prepared to take your case to trial.
Under California’s strict liability laws, a dog owner can be liable for damages if:
For strict liability to apply to the claim, the injuries must be directly caused by the dog attack, not from injuries caused by the dog’s behavior. For example, if an unleashed dog jumped up on someone walking by and caused bruising and soft tissue injuries, the dog bite statute does not apply here since the injured person was not bitten. However, the injured party may have a negligence claim.
Contact Orange County Dog Bite Attorneys
A dog attack can be a shocking, harrowing experience. You may have been out for your usual walk when a large, aggressive dog appeared out of nowhere, attacking you without provocation. In addition to serious physical injuries, the emotional pain and suffering a victim goes through can be life-changing. If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog in Orange County, California, speak to the team at MVP Accident Attorneys, as soon as possible. Our dog bite lawyers have helped countless dog attack survivors all over the state for years and have a proven track record for success. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation, so we can review your case and offer the best possible legal advice and guidance that will ensure you receive the settlement you deserve.