Have you or someone you love been attacked or bitten by a dog in Bakersfield? Did this attack seriously injure you or leave you with costly medical bills, and was it caused by another’s negligence? If so, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Call the Bakersfield personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw for a free consultation, and let us help you get the compensation you deserve after a dog bite. Call today.

How Dog Bites Occur

There are over 52,000,000 dogs in the United States. This large number inevitably leads to large numbers of attacks and bites by dogs. According to the CDC, there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites each year, and over 800,000 of those require medical attention. That’s 2,400 dog bites every day. To make matters worse, the majority of dog bite victims are children ages 5 to 9, and children are much more likely to suffer severe injuries from a dog bite than adults.

There are several reasons why young children suffer more dog bites than adults. Dogs tend to view children close to their size as more of a threat or competition for food or attention. The relative similarity in size means that children tend to stand closer to a dog’s head and mouth than adults, and children tend to be louder, more aggressive, and less aware of their surroundings than adults. They tend to pay less attention to a dog’s body language or how they’re responding to play as well. A dog that is feeling territorial, anxious, or in pain can easily turn on an unsuspecting child and cause severe injury. Some studies suggest that rather than trying to control the dog’s behavior, teaching children how to behave around dogs can prevent more dog bites.

Dogs bite for many reasons. They bite when they feel threatened or startled, when they are frightened, when they’re hungry, when they’re playing, when they don’t feel well, or to protect someone or something from harm. Even the most docile and friendly of family pets can bite if they are provoked or threatened, regardless of breed, size, or previous record of bites or vicious behavior. The vast majority of dog bites are not from frothing, barking guard dogs on a chain but from the beloved family pet or the neighbor’s dog.

Here are some additional informative statistics:

  • Dog bites are the second most frequent cause of emergency room visits for children in the United States.
  • 334,000 people bitten by dogs every year require hospitalization.
  • Though dog bites are very common, fatalities due to dog bites are exceedingly rare.
  • Most dog bites are inflicted upon boys ages five to nine.

Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks

Even the smallest dog can cause serious injury if provoked. Some of the more common injuries we see from dog bites in California include the following:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Infections like rabies or tetanus
  • Abrasions
  • Lacerations
  • Crushing
  • Scarring/disfigurement
  • Avulsion
  • Broken bones
  • Nerve damage
  • Soft tissue injuries

Dog Laws in California

Laws relating to dog bites in California are more stringent than in other states. California has a strict liability law with regard to dog bites which states that a dog’s owner is responsible for any and all harm inflicted on others by their dog, regardless of whether they had any knowledge of the dog’s vicious behavior or if the dog has bitten someone before.

Some other laws and regulations regarding dogs in California include:

  • CA Penal code 398, which states that if an owner is aware their dog has bitten someone, they must provide their contact information and information about the animal to the injured party within 48 hours of the bite.
  • CA Penal code 399, which states that if a dog’s owner has knowledge of their dog’s vicious behavior, allows that animal to run free, and the dog bites and kills another person, the owner can be charged with a felony.
  • CA Penal code 399.5, which makes it illegal to own or have custody of a dog that is trained to fight, kill, or attack.

Compensation for Dog Bites

When you’ve been bitten by a dog, it’s likely that the dog belongs to someone you know. You may fear that asking your friend or relative for money for your medical bills will harm your relationship. However, compensation for a dog bite injury often comes in the form of a settlement from the responsible party’s insurance company.

Since most homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog bites, they will be the ones handling most dog bite claims. Once you get a copy of your friend’s insurance policy, the matter can be handled between your lawyer and the insurer, leaving you and your friend’s relationship intact.

The amount of compensation you might receive is determined by the losses you suffer as a result of your injury. Some of these losses, called damages, have a definable monetary value, and some do not. Your lawyer can help you determine which losses you may be eligible to obtain compensation for.

Economic damages are any losses with a monetary value attached. Some examples include:

  • Lost wages. If a dog bite injury ends in you losing time at work to recover or care for a loved one, you can be compensated for any lost pay, now or in the future.
  • Medical bills. You can be compensated for any and all medical costs related to your injury.
  • Property damage. If any personal property was destroyed or damaged in the attack, you can be compensated for the costs of repair or replacement.

Non-economic damages are losses without a monetary value. These losses relate to the injury itself and not the financial toll of treating or living with it. There are several types, such as:

  • Pain and suffering. You can recover compensation for the feelings of pain, fear, anxiety, depression, or trauma brought on by a dog bite.
  • Scarring and disfigurement. Dog bites can cause severe injuries to the face and head, especially in children, that can lead to lifelong scarring or disfigurement.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. If a dog bite leaves you unable to participate in activities you once enjoyed, you may be compensated for this loss.

If you’re able to prove that the party responsible for your injury acted with malicious intent, California also allows you to seek exemplary damages as well as compensatory damages. Exemplary damages are intended to punish the party responsible for the injury rather than compensate you for any loss. They are only awarded in a lawsuit and carry a higher burden of proof than other damages.

Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims

Like most other personal injury claims, California law stipulates that there is a limit on the amount of time an injury victim has to file a claim for compensation. In most cases, the limit is two years, unless the injury was not discovered until after the accident that caused it. In this case, the limit is one year from the date the injury was discovered.

Why Choose OnderLaw for My Dog Bite Case?

OnderLaw has almost two decades of experience helping dog bite victims get compensation for their injuries. We’ve helped thousands of clients with every type of injury imaginable, from whiplash cases to wrongful death claims. Our familiarity with the claims process and relevant case law can make the ordeal smoother and easier for you and your family.

We provide a level of personal service that you simply won’t find anywhere else. We pride ourselves on building solid relationships with our clients by keeping an open line of communication at all times. More than that, we understand our responsibility as your guide and confidant during this difficult time, and we take that responsibility very seriously. When you choose us to represent you, you won’t just receive excellent legal counsel. You’ll get the support you need.

We also understand how difficult it can be for some injury victims to afford quality legal help. This is why we work on a contingency fee basis. It works like this: You come to us with your case, and we review it to see whether you’re eligible for compensation. If we believe your case has merit, we sign on to represent you. Then, we gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build your case from the ground up. We will take all the phone calls and write the letters, leaving you to recover from your injury. Throughout this process, you pay nothing. There are no up-front costs.

If we are successful in negotiating a settlement or securing an award in a trial for you, we take an agreed-upon percentage of the amount you receive as payment for our services. If we aren’t successful, you pay nothing. You only pay for our services if we win your case.

We’re also very good at what we do. The numbers speak for themselves. We’ve been able to obtain over $3 billion in settlements and awards for our clients. We can’t guarantee that we can win your case, but we can guarantee our team will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.

 Call Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a family member have suffered a debilitating or costly dog bite, don’t wait any longer. The attorneys at OnderLaw are standing by to assist with your claim. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation, and let us review your case to see if you’re eligible for compensation. The consultation is free, and you only pay if we win, so you have nothing to lose. Call today.