Dog bites can be frightening, devastating, and they pose a serious health risk. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten each year, and at least half of those are children.

If you or a family member has been bitten, you may be owed compensation for injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Unfortunately, if you try to handle a claim on your own, you may not receive fair compensation. The dog owner’s insurance adjuster’s goal is to maximize the profit of the insurance company. They are skilled negotiators, so it is best to let the experienced Fresno personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw communicate and negotiate on your behalf.

An experienced dog bite lawyer can help protect your rights and handle the confusing legal process. Our legal team has the experience and skills to gather the necessary evidence, negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company, and fight for fair compensation.

We recognize you have a unique story. We have helped clients just like you recover damages for injuries that were caused by others’ negligence. Our committed and compassionate legal team works to help you overcome the attack. Our first priority is our clients.

If you or a loved one has had a dog bite injury, contact the legal team at OnderLaw today. Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation.

How Dog Bites Happen

Any dog is capable of biting. When provoked, even the sweetest pet can bite someone it knows. It is not the dog breed, sex, or size that determines whether a dog will bite. Rather, it’s the dog’s history, training, and individual behavior.

Most commonly, a dog will bite in reaction to a situation. Often, if the dog finds itself in a stressful situation or is fearful, it may bite to defend itself. Dogs may bite when startled or feeling threatened. If a dog is trying to protect something they value, like their puppies or a toy, they may also bite. Dogs who are sick or injured also have a higher risk of biting.

Responsible pet owners can help prevent dog bites through gentle training and socialization. It’s important to avoid escalating any situation that may result in a dog bite. For example, avoid approaching or petting a dog if the animal is:

  • Not with its owner
  • On the other side of a fence
  • Sleeping, eating, sick, or injured
  • Growling or barking
  • Hiding

If a dog is with its owner, always ask first before reaching out a hand to the dog. While these situations may carry a higher risk of a dog bite, the owner of the animal is still responsible for ensuring the safety of their dog and the people around them.

Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks

Dog bite wounds can range from minor cuts and abrasions to life-altering injuries. A bite or an attack can lead to wounds that include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Eye injuries
  • Head and Neck Injuries
  • Face Injuries
  • Nerve Damage
  • Amputated digits

When a dog bites, the front teeth compress your tissue and may tear the skin. The attack itself can lead to emotional and mental anguish. After the wounds have healed, you may be left with disfiguring scars or permanent nerve damage.

If the dog does not have a current rabies vaccination, the injury is more complicated. According to an emergency medicine physician with Cleveland Clinic, the biggest concern after a dog bite is an infection. Examples of infections that can cause further injury include tetanus, Pasteurella, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and sepsis.

Dog Laws/Regulations in California

If you own a dog in California, you know how much joy pet ownership can bring. However, some laws and regulations govern pet ownership and dog bites.

California Penal Code § 398 – 399.5 states that if a dog bites another person, the owner will provide them with their own contact information and information about the animal. If an owner knows a dog is aggressive and allows it to run at large, and the animal kills another person, the state can charge the owner with a felony.

California also has a dangerous dog statute that includes several penal codes. These statutes provide the rules and regulations for dogs that are considered dangerous or aggressive. The laws define what constitutes these behaviors and relevant laws that govern dog bites.

California also has a “strict liability” for dog bites. This means that the dog owner is liable for any dog bite regardless of the past behavior or aggressive nature of the dog. Whether the owner was aware of the dog’s past behavior or not, they are liable for any dog bite.

Under Penal Code § 30503.5, an animal shelter must disclose a dog’s bite history before allowing it to be adopted. Penal Code § 3342 protects the use of military or police dogs while pursuing criminals or defending themselves against harassment or provocation in the execution of their job.

Under California law, even if the skin does not break, if the dog grabs someone with its teeth, it could still constitute a bite. However, the strict liability statute does not cover injuries when a dog’s action causes injury, but the dog does not actually bite the person. For example, if a dog chases a bicycle or a motorcycle and causes an accident, the dog owner is not liable.

What Compensation Can You Expect For Dog Bites

A dog bite injury is handled as a personal injury lawsuit. The legal damages that you can recover are aimed at compensating for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. The cost of medical expenses can quickly skyrocket if the wound becomes infected, leads to permanent disfigurement, or results in nerve damage.

It is important to receive medical care within hours of a dog bite to reduce the potential risk for infection. While early medical treatment can help reduce the chance of infection, do not negate the emotional and physical trauma from an attack by an aggressive animal. It is best to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney experienced in working with dog bite cases to understand your options for compensation.

When compared against other states, California has the largest number of claims for dog bites in the U.S. In 2020 there were 2,103 claims after a dog bite. The second-highest state was Florida, where there were 1,235 dog bites. In 2002, one California couple was tried for second-degree murder after their dogs attacked and killed a neighbor. The average cost per claim in California is $64,622, and the average value of a dog bite lawsuit is $135.9 million.

In many cases, the majority of the victims are known to the dog owner and dog. This can include family members, neighbors, and friends of the dog owner. Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites when the insurance company has been notified there is a dog living on the premises. Involving a lawyer to handle your claim or lawsuit helps to take the sting out of making a claim against someone you know. At OnderLaw , we will handle all the communication with the insurance company for you.

Insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators and may approach you quickly to offer a settlement that is far less than fair compensation for your injuries. It is best to work with a Fresno dog bite attorney who will handle communication and negotiation with the insurance company so you don’t accidentally say something that jeopardizes your case and lowers your compensation.

Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims

In California, the statute of limitations defines the timeframe you have to sue for a dog bite in the court system. You have two years from the date of the bite or the attack. If a person who has been bitten by a dog fails to file a lawsuit within this two-year period, they usually cannot recover compensation. This is true even if the dog owner could not be identified in the two-year period.

Why Choose OnderLaw ?

After you hire OnderLaw , our legal team begins working on your case by investigating the circumstances in which you or your loved one was bitten. We have the necessary resources and to confirm the dog owner’s insurance coverage, find substantial evidence and track down witnesses. Our legal team will help determine fair compensation to cover your medical expenses, future medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Our caring and compassionate legal team have been working with clients like you for two decades. We know that money cannot make up for what happened, but we believe that you should receive fair compensation. Dealing with the legal aspects of a dog bite injury is overwhelming and may be impossible if you are also physically debilitated or hospitalized for an infection. Our qualified Fresno dog bite attorneys have a long and successful history of getting justice for the clients we serve.

Call OnderLaw Today for a Free Consultation

Our legal team’s first priority is getting a fair judgment for our clients. This is one of the reasons why we work on a contingency fee basis. This means you have no out-of-pocket costs until we negotiate a fair settlement or win your case in court. We are confident in our ability to represent you and protect your rights. Call OnderLaw today for a free, no-obligation consultation.