We love our furry-pet dogs dearly. Unfortunately, some dogs can be dangerous and aggressive, and an attack or bite by a dangerously aggressive dog can cause significant and permanent injuries to a person.
Below are some things you need to know if you or your loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog. For more information contact our Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.
What to do after a dog bite?
After a dog bite or attack, you should contact the police to report it and document the incident. It is also a good idea to report the incident to your local Department of Animal Care and Control and the Department of Public Health.
It is also crucial that you try to obtain some information about the dog owner, the dog, and their residence if it is safe to do so. This includes:
- Dog Owner’s Name (or a copy of his/her/their Driver’s License/identification card)
- Dog Owner’s Homeowner’s or Renter’s Policy information, if any
- Dog Owner’s Current Address
- Information about the dog, such as:
- Distinctive marks/characteristics
- Dog Leash?
- Photos of the scene
- Photos of the dog
As a general guideline, the more information you obtain, the easier it would be for your attorneys to help you and locate the responsible parties.
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Dog Bite: I Should Get This Wound Checked Out, Right?
Yes! Your well-being is the most important. If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog and believe you are injured, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Some bite injuries may be minor, but others may cause significant, permanent damage to the victim. Some common injuries suffered by dog bite victims include:
- Puncture wounds
- Cuts or Lacerations
- Fractured or Broken bones
- Loss of limb
- Nerve damage
- Head trauma/brain injury
- Neck Injury
- Back Injury
- Soft tissue injuries
In addition, a bite wound may lead to potentially life-threatening infections in the victim. Therefore, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible after suffering a dog bite or attack.
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Who is responsible For a Dog Bite Injury?
In California, dog owners are strictly liable for all dog bites that occur on public or private property, as long as they were lawfully at the property at the time of the incident. The owner is liable even if the dog never bit or attacked anyone in the past.
Strict liability means that a person (the dog owner) is held liable for the dog bite or attack, even if the dog owner was not negligent in causing the dog bite or attack. Pursuant to California Civil Procedure section 3342(a): “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.”
Specifically, to prove a dog bite case, you must show:
- The dog owner owned the dog;
- The dog bit you (or your loved one) in a public place or while you (or your loved one) was lawfully on private property;
- The dog bit you (or your loved one);
- The dog bite was a substantial factor in causing your (or your loved one’s) injuries.
There are some exceptions/defenses to a dog bite claim. For example, a dog owner is not strictly liable for the injuries caused to a trespasser on private property. Another example is where the victim provoked the dog under certain circumstances. However, even in these cases, a dog owner may still be found liable for negligence.
What is the Role of Homeowner’s Insurance in Dog Bite Claims?
Many times, dog owners are not in the financial position to compensate the injured victim of a dog bite or attack.
A Homeowner’s or Renter’s insurance may potentially cover the damages you suffered as a result of the dog bite or attack. However, one important note is that many insurance companies specifically exclude liability coverage for certain breeds.
An experienced dog bite attorney at Arias Sanguinetti may help you determine whether there is potential insurance coverage for your injuries.
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How Long Do I Have To Bring a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
Under California Law, a dog bite injury falls under the personal injury category. Therefore, you have two years from the date of the incident to bring the lawsuit against the dog owner for the injuries and damages you suffered as a result of the dog bite or attack.
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