Chula Vista is a dog-friendly city. From the city’s numerous dog parks to the dog beaches and pet-friendly restaurants, there is no shortage of places to take your canine companion. But not all dogs are friendly. Especially if a dog isn’t used to being around other dogs or people, accidents like dog bites can and do occur.

If you or someone you love has suffered a dog bite in Chula Vista, you should consider speaking to the Chula Vista personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw about filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit for compensation. We’ve been helping our clients get fair and just compensation for their injuries for almost twenty years, and we know how to make the law work for injury victims. Call today and let us review your case to determine whether you’re eligible. Don’t let a dog bite injury dictate your future plans. Call OnderLaw today.

How Dog Bites Occur

Dogs provide companionship, protection, emotional support, stress relief, and enjoyment for their owners. They can help promote cognitive development in children, help disabled people with household tasks, and even recognize certain cancers or the onset of epileptic seizures with their acute sense of smell. But even the most well-trained, friendly family dog can bite someone if they’re provoked or frightened.

There are approximately 85 million dogs in the United States, with almost 40 percent of households reporting owning at least one dog. With this many dogs in such close proximity to so many people, it’s no wonder that around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. Over 800,000 of those bites require medical attention.

The most common victims of dog bites are children. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that over 45 percent of dog bite victims in the United States between 2000 and 2018 were under 16 years of age. The majority of dog bites occur in or around the home, and the majority of dog bite victims are bitten by the family dog or a dog they are familiar with.

There are several reasons why children are bitten by dogs more often than other people. Children are less likely to understand and respond to a dog’s body language that might indicate a bite is about to occur. They are similar in size to many dogs, which may make some dogs perceive them as a threat or competition for food or affection, and children are more likely to surprise or startle a dog with loud noises or physical contact.

Children are also far more likely to require medical treatment after a dog bite than adults. This is due mainly to a child’s size in comparison to a dog. Children ages five to nine are similar in size and weight to a large dog but are not as strong as an adult, and so they are less able to fend off a bite or attack. Their similarity in size to many dogs means that most children suffer bites to the head and neck, which can cause scarring and sometimes requires surgery to correct.

Dogs bite for many reasons. They may bite to protect someone or something, when they’re startled, when they’re afraid, in pain, when they’re frustrated, at play, or to defend themselves.

Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks

Dog bites cause a variety of injuries, from mild scrapes to severe internal injuries. Some of the common injuries attributed to dog bites include:

  • Lacerations
  • Abrasions
  • Puncture wounds
  • Broken bones
  • Crushing injuries
  • Avulsion
  • Infection
  • Internal injuries
  • Face and eye injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Scarring and disfigurement

Dog Laws and Regulations in California

With regard to dog bites, California is a strict liability state, meaning the law states that a dog’s owner is responsible for any and all damage caused by their dog, regardless of whether the dog was restrained at the time of the bite or the owner had knowledge of previous vicious behavior. As long as the dog bite victim is in a public place or legally on private property at the time of the bite, they have no need to prove the negligence of the owner. They need only show they were bitten to hold the owner responsible.

It’s important to note that this strict liability applies only in the case of a dog bite and not dog attacks.

Here are some additional laws and regulations regarding dog ownership and liability in California:

  • If a dog’s owner has knowledge of previous vicious behavior in their dog, allows that dog to roam freely, and the dog kills another person, the owner can be charged with a felony.
  • The owner of a dog who bites someone is required to provide the victim with their name and contact information as well as vaccination information for the dog within 48 hours of the injury.
  • It is illegal to own a dog trained to kill or fight in California.
  • Intentionally hurting or torturing a dog is punishable by a misdemeanor or felony charge, potential imprisonment, and a fine of up to $20,000.

Compensation for Dog Bites

Compensation for a dog bite will usually come from the responsible party’s insurance company. Your attorney will assist you in preparing and filing a claim to cover any losses, financial or otherwise, you or your family sustained as a result of the dog bite.

The good news is that most homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites. As most dog bites occur in or around the home and most victims are bitten by a dog they are familiar with, this means that you won’t have to go after a friend or family member’s finances or livelihood for compensation. Your claim would be paid out by their insurance, not by the dog’s owner directly.

You can be compensated for a variety of different losses, or damages. The exact amount you may receive is impossible to determine without a full review of your case. Each dog bite claim is different, with unique circumstances and root causes, but the general rule is the more severe the injury or losses, the more you should demand in compensation.

Losses with a specific dollar value are called economic damages. These are damages that relate to the actual cost of treating or living with the injury, such as:

  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Medical bills
  • Household expenses
  • Lost opportunity

There are also noneconomic damages, or losses without a specific value. These damages relate to the experience of the injury itself and the long-term effects of a dog bite. Some examples include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish

If the owner of the dog that bit you or a family member acted with malicious intent, that is, if they intended their dog to attack or bite, you may be able to claim exemplary damages. This type of award is reserved for cases of extreme fraud, malice, or oppression, and is intended to financially punish the wrongdoer for their malicious actions rather than compensate the victim for any loss. Exemplary damages require a higher burden of proof than compensatory damages and can only be awarded in a trial. Ask your attorney if exemplary damages are right for your case.

Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims

California has a strict statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. For dog bites, you have two years from the date of the injury to file suit against the responsible party. If you attempt to do so after the statute of limitations has passed, a judge may refuse to hear your case.

Why Choose OnderLaw for My Dog Bite Claim?

You have many choices for good legal representation in Chula Vista, so why choose OnderLaw ?

We know what you’re going through. We’ve helped thousands of clients get compensation for a wide variety of injuries and accidents, from dog bites and whiplash claims to defective product lawsuits worth hundreds of millions of dollars against corporate titans like Johnson & Johnson. We have an experienced and dedicated team of legal professionals ready to assist you.

At OnderLaw , we’re not concerned with how much money we’ll make from your case, or with how large or small your settlement or award may be. We’re concerned with helping our clients. Behind every dog bite is a person or family in need of support after a traumatic experience. We take pride in providing that support during this difficult time, along with providing top-tier legal counsel.

Good legal help is expensive, and we understand that not all of our clients have the finances available to pay for our services after an injury. This is why we work on contingency. This means there are no upfront costs to our clients to obtain our services. We take our payment out of any settlement or award we obtain for you. If we aren’t successful in getting you some form of compensation through a claim or lawsuit, we don’t get paid.

Since 2002, we’ve helped our clients obtain over $3.5 billion in settlements and awards. We’re very skilled at what we do, and the results speak for themselves.

Call OnderLaw Today

If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog in Chula Vista, don’t wait any longer. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation. You have a limited time to file suit for compensation, so don’t delay. We will review your case and discuss your available options, all for free. Don’t let a dog bite ruin your future. Call OnderLaw today.