Are Dog Bites a Suable Offense in California

Are Dog Bites a Suable Offense in California

California has an exceptionally high number of dog bite injury cases, both as a percentage of other dog bite incidents in the nation and through sheer volume. More dog bites occur each year in California than in any other state. It was reported in 2019 that 2,396 dog bites occurred—the most number of claims in the United States! Additionally, 21 percent of dog bite-related fatalities were caused by pit bulls, the highest percentage of any state. Pitbull attacks were responsible for 282 deaths nationwide, also the highest number of fatalities!

What should you do if a dog has bitten you? There are steps to take, including filing a police report and speaking to accident lawyers about your options for compensation for your dog bite injuries. 

How severe does the dog bite need to be, or how many witnesses need to see it happen for you to file a lawsuit? If a dog is biting a minor child, will the parent sue, or only the child? Let’s explore those questions while looking at what steps need to be taken after a dog bites you and how to protect your rights under the law.

Is it possible to file a lawsuit if a dog in California has bitten you? Yes, but you need some specific information to do so. It is helpful if you have good documentation of what happened. Contacting an experienced attorney familiar with California laws governing dog bites can help guide you through this process. 

California follows the one-bite rule, which means there is some dispute as to when an owner may potentially be liable for damages inflicted upon others by their dogs.

If a dog has never been aggressive before and suddenly bites a person, the dog owner cannot be held liable for any injuries to the victim. This is a standard rule throughout the United States. 

On the other hand, California does not adhere to such a rule, and dog owners can be held liable for all attacks by accident lawyers. This means that even if the dog has never bitten anyone before and you are unaware of any dangerous or vicious propensities, you could still be held liable for injuries to a victim. 

Is a Minor Dog Bite Suable?

If a dog in California injures you—whether it knocks you to the ground with its paws, bites your knees and legs, or bites your face and arms—the dog owner is liable. California applies what’s known as “strict liability” to dog owners. Under strict liability, the dog owner is responsible for the victim’s injuries, even if the animal has shown no signs of aggression before. Regardless of how minor it is, you have grounds to pursue a lawsuit for any resulting damages if you're bitten.

For instance, even minor dog bites can be traumatic experiences. People tend to develop PTSD after being bitten. Children are at most risk here. When pursuing a lawsuit for a dog bite – whether minor or severe – the victim should consider how much psychological damage came from the incident. Accident lawyers usually determine the total amount of damage resulting from the incident when assessing how much a settlement is deserved.

When a minor dog bite leads to a trip to the emergency room, the victim should never be responsible for the ensuing expenses. Pushing through with a dog bite lawsuit is one of the best ways to recover any losses you may have sustained due to your attack, especially if you incurred medical expenses, pain, suffering, or psychological trauma that required professional care. 

Suing for a minor dog bite is your right, especially if the experience left you with medical expenses and has caused your mental state to suffer.

What Are the Costs Involved?

The average dog bite settlement is $44,000. For cases that are more severe than average, the money can increase substantially, with some payments exceeding $100,000, depending on the facts of the case and the experience of the dog bite law firm and accident lawyers.

When it comes to severe dog bite attacks resulting in lifelong injuries, multi-million dollar settlements have been reported in recent years:

-A settlement worth $1 million was given to a California woman who was severely disfigured after a 2008 bulldog attack. She lost part of her nose and lips in the dog bite, requiring three surgeries to reconstruct her face.

-Back in July 2013, a settlement of $1.1 million was reached for the case of a massive Bullmastiff that had escaped from a chain-link fence enclosure and attacked a then-15-year-old boy for ten minutes, causing severe injuries and trauma. The dog bite victim received 1.125 million in payments from the pet owner’s insurance policy to pay for the cost of his medical bills, as well as the fee of his prolonged treatment.

-An 8-year-old girl was awarded $36 million by a jury in Georgia for the personal injury lawsuit she filed for dog bite injuries in 2015. She suffered catastrophic injuries after being attacked by a pack of dogs, so much so that one of her arms was amputated. The initial award was $72 million, but after the judge made his ruling, the amount was reduced to $36 million. In addition to the compensation penalty, the dog owner was sentenced to 16 months in jail.

Being injured by a dog can be a scary, painful, and confusing experience, so you need experienced accident lawyers on your side to help you ensure the dog’s owner is held financially accountable for these injuries.

How to Prove Liability

Winning a dog bite case means proving that the owner was negligent. Negligence involves showing several elements—for instance, the owner’s failure to properly supervise their dog, leading to a bite. Proving liability also includes:

-Proving the dog has a negligent owner.

-The dog was in a public setting or was on private property that was legally accessible to others at the time of the incident.

-The victim sustained an injury as a result.

-The victim's injury was significant enough to be attributed to the dog's bite.

What to Do: Hire These Accident Lawyers from Los Angeles

Whether intentional or accidental, it is your right as a Californian to sue the owner for damages accrued from a dog bite, especially when they lead to loss of limbs, negative impact in terms of lifestyle, and other hazardous effects. Be sure you hire competent accident lawyers who can make your case and win you the settlement you deserve.

Contact Mendez & Sanchez Law if you or anyone you know has suffered from a dog bite! We are a winning team of accident lawyers from Los Angeles that help you through the complex legal landscape as we pursue the compensation you deserve. Set an appointment with us for personal injury, auto accident, workers compensation, slip and fall, or other legal needs today!

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