According to the Humane Society, there are about 78.2 million dogs owned in the U.S. and about 46 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog. About 12 percent of owners own three or more dogs which raises serious concern over proper supervision. One recent statistic showed that each day, about 1,000 U.S. residents require emergency care treatment for a dog bite injury. Breeds most responsible for serious injury and death include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios, Cane Corsos, Mastiffs, Dogo Argentinos, and Fila Brasieros. Such statistics are clearly alarming and most likely will not change anytime soon considering the persistent increase in dog ownership.
● California Law
Under California’s “dog-bite” statute, liability is held against the owner of a dog that bites a person while that person is in a public place, or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of the viciousness. This means that the statute allows one to recover without having to show fault and thus there is no requirement that the victim must show instances of prior bites or viciousness of the dog. However, the statute did not intend to render inapplicable such defenses as assumption of risk or willfully invited injury by the injured party.
The statute was not designed merely to prevent dogs from doing harm while they rove, but to prevent dogs from becoming a hazard to the community. Thus, there have been cases where a voluntary act of a dog handler, who was bitten on stopping by the road to assist an injured dog, did not remove the handler from the class of persons to be protected. On the other hand, in one case, the court held that the statute was designed to protect persons from being bitten in public places, not to protect veterinarians administering treatment in the privacy of their offices.
However, one is no longer liable under the dog-bite statute as an owner where title to the dog has already been transferred at the time the injury occurs. Accordingly, a humane society is not liable where title to the dog has vested in the injured person by payment of the impounding fee and acceptance of the animal before the attack.
● Medical Expenses
Serious injuries sustained in a dog bite incident can trigger significant bills. For example, hospitalization at a trauma center for serious lacerations and other related injuries can cost as much $50,000. An attorney dedicated to personal injury claims will help you to recover the costs for any hospital stay, surgery, doctors’ visits, diagnostic tests, and physical and rehabilitative therapy. You may further be entitled to the costs of future medical care, if your conditions will require ongoing treatment.
● Pain and Suffering
A dog bite incident may inflict a wide range of injuries, whether they are temporary, longer-term, or disabling. The law allows for compensation for the pain and suffering associated with such injuries, yet it does not provide a fixed formula to calculate that compensation. To recover the maximum amount that your injuries warrant, one will need the help of a dedicated personal injury attorney who is equipped with the knowledge and experience to best evaluate your claim.
● Loss of Wages
Time lost at work due to injuries inflicted by a dog bite incident can be significant and have serious ramifications on your finances and family responsibilities. If your injuries prevent you from working, then all your lost wages may be included in any claim for recovery against the negligent party. Even if you used sick leave or vacation time during the recovery period, reimbursement may be available in your recovery. What if your injuries leave you permanently disabled and unable to work ever again? In conjunction with this firm’s experts, a personal injury lawyer can calculate your future losses and recover for your diminution in lifetime earning capacity.
● Wrongful Death
If a dog attack resulted in the death of a party, then there may be a cause of action for wrongful death. A wrongful death action arises in favor of certain statutory outlined survivors of a decedent of an accident. The survivors who are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim include but are not limited to the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or issue of deceased children.
IMPORTANT STEPS TO TAKE AFTER A DOG BITE ATTACK:
(1) Seek Immediate Medical Attention –
Dog bite injuries can be very serious and can be exacerbated when medical attention is not received immediately. Dog bites can potentially lead to permanent injuries and there is a serious risk for infection and hence immediate medical attention is required. Call an ambulance, go to an emergency room or seek medical attention at an urgent care facility.
(2) Report the Attack –
Contact the police and the local county animal control agency to report the attack. Provide any information you have regarding the incident to the police. This may include the appearance of the dog, the owner, anyone with the dog, witnesses, and the injuries inflicted.
(3) Gather Evidence –
After the attack it is essential to compile any evidence you may have in connection with the attack. This may include photos of the injuries, the dog, the owner, witnesses, and location of the incident; identification and names of the dog, the owner, and any witnesses; any hospital or doctor records of treatment; any insurance information; retain all clothing worn at the time of the attack.
(4) Contact a Dog Bite Injury Attorney –
In the immediate aftermath of such an attack, call a dedicated personal injury attorney. It is important to have effective investigation and representation by a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Do not make any statements or sign any agreements with any insurance company without first hiring an attorney. Many insurance companies will attempt to avoid or reduce liability by reaching agreements with injured parties before injured parties retain legal representation.
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Beverly Hills, California 90210
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