Whether or not you like dogs, a dog bite or attack can make for an unpleasant experience. If you have been attacked by a dog and it caused physical and/or emotional injuries, you should contact an experienced Northern California dog bite attorney.
What should I do if a dog bit me?
First, be sure to seek medical attention. Serious infections and other complications can result from a dog bite.
Be sure to take photographs of any injuries and continue to do so throughout the healing process. This will play an important role should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim.
If anyone else witnessed the attack, be sure to document their full names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Obtain the name and contact information for the dog’s owner. If possible, inform the dog’s owner you were bit by his or her dog, but do not provide the owner any information about your condition. If the owner has insurance, do not speak with the insurance agent. Anything you say to them can be used later and can potentially weaken your claim. Also, do not allow the owner or insurance representative to photograph you or your injuries.
What is the law on dog bite cases in California?
Generally, most dog bite cases in California are governed by the “dog bite statute.” It is found in the California Civil Code, section 3342(a).
This statute provides that when a dog bites a person while the person is in a public area or lawfully in a private area, the owner of the dog is strictly liable for the damages caused by the dog bite. This means that dog owners can be held responsible for the harm inflicted from a dog bite, no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their dogs.
To prove this claim, the victim must prove:
A victim is lawfully on private property of the owner if he or she was performing any duty required by law, or was on the property at the invitation of the owner, whether or not that invitation was expressly made or implied.
The above statute requires that the victim suffer a dog bite. However, it does not require the skin be broken or a teeth wound inflicted. For example, if a dog bit the victim’s clothing causing the victim to fall down and injure themselves, the owner would still be strictly liable for any damage caused as a result of the bite, including damages from the fall and/or the emotional distress of being attacked.
If a person is injured by a dog attack, but not actually bitten by the dog, their claim cannot be brought pursuant to the dog bite statute. However, their lawyer can still bring a claim under something called the “common law” doctrine where the owner of the dog could still be held strictly liable for the damages resulting from the attack.
Under the common law rule, the owner of the dog will still be strictly liable for injuries caused by his or her dog. However, unlike the dog bite statute, it is only if the dog was dangerous and the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.
Again, it would not matter if the owner took precautions to restrain their dog or prevent harm to others, the owner would still be held strictly liable, as with the dog bite statute.
Additionally, the common law rule does not require a “bite.” For instance, if the dog attacks a person by aggressively jumping on them, the owner is strictly liable for any injuries resulting from the attack, if the dog was dangerous and the owner knew or should have known about it.
Finally, if either of the above strict liability claims do not fit within the particular facts of a dog attack case, it may still be possible to obtain a recovery for the victim’s injuries based on a simple negligence claim.
In a negligence action for personal injuries caused by a dog, there is no need to prove that the injury resulted from some abnormal trait or dangerous tendency of the dog. The proof need only show that the owner could reasonably have anticipated the dog’s conduct would cause injury and that the owner did not exercise reasonable care to control the dog.
What are the types of damages for which a dog bite victim can be compensated?
In our civil justice system, individual compensation generally falls into two categories. They are called economic and non-economic damages. They are also sometimes referred to as special and general damages.
“Economic” or “special” damages include past and future medical bills, and past and future lost earnings and earning capacity.
“Non-economic” or “general” damages include past and future losses for pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, anxiety, inconvenience, humiliation, and emotional distress.
Contact an experienced dog bite attorney
If you have suffered injury as a result of a dog bite or attack, please contact our firm. Our team of experienced staff and trial attorneys will answer your questions. We will ensure your legal rights are protected and will fight to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled for your losses.