Wherever there are people, there are likely to be dogs. For at least 14,000 years—literally since the Stone Age—humans have relied on dogs for companionship, protection, and hunting. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’ll find at least one dog in approximately 38% of households in the U.S. Whether you’re a dog lover or not, dogs are a fact of life. Unfortunately, so are dog bites.
Approximately 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs each year, and twenty percent of these victims need medical care. Treatment can be expensive, especially when the injuries require a trip to the emergency room, or in some cases, hospitalization. And beyond any physical injuries, dog bites can be terrifying and traumatic. Whether from a sudden, swift bite or a prolonged physical attack, the psychological and emotional damage can be devastating, undermining your sense of security and upending your everyday life.
In California, pet owners have certain defined legal responsibilities in dog bite cases. If your injury was not your fault, you may be eligible to receive compensation.
OnderLaw ’s Irvine personal injury lawyers understand how debilitating, expensive, and painful a dog bite or attack can be. They also know how best to proceed with a valid claim for damages and compensation. If you’ve been bitten or injured by a dog in Irvine, don’t wait until the legal aspects of pursuing your claim overwhelm you. Call us today and we’ll provide you with a free consultation and discuss the possibilities for your case.
Any number of factors can increase the likelihood of a dog bite. Occasionally, an out-of-the-blue incident occurs in which an otherwise even-tempered dog bites someone without any apparent provocation or cause. Most dog bites, though, come about due to certain environmental conditions or human actions. Biting is often an instinctive response for dogs in the following situations:
Children too young to understand dog boundaries and behaviors will sometimes play with a dog in a careless or teasing manner, which can result in a bite. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), children are the most frequent dog-bite victims, making up at least half of all cases.
Abused dogs may be more likely to bite or attack someone. Some owners intentionally mistreat or even train their dogs to be aggressive, sometimes for the defense of property, for the purposes of dogfighting, or out of just plain meanness.
The debate continues about the tendency of certain breeds to bite and attack people, but nearly any dog—in the circumstances noted above—is capable of delivering a bite requiring medical attention. In fact, most victims are bitten either by their own dog or by a dog they already know.
Dog attack injuries come in a fairly broad range, including the following:
Bacterial infections of a wound are common, and sometimes tetanus or rabies can result as well. In cases that are fortunately rare, a dog attack can cause death. Regardless of the severity of the injury or loss, compensation may be possible. A good lawyer with experience in dog bite cases can advise you about the potential for a successful claim in your circumstances.
California law holds to a “strict liability” standard. This means that even if the responsible party has done nothing wrong, they are still legally liable for losses suffered by someone else. The California Civil Code contains a law specific to dog bite liability. Even if the owner of the dog that bit you followed all the rules, had the dog properly leashed or enclosed, had no idea that the dog was potentially dangerous, or did nothing to actively contribute to the incident, they would still be responsible for compensating you for your injuries.
It should be noted that the California statute refers specifically to bites, not to other injuries. Still, you may be able to seek damages if you can prove negligence on the part of the owner. Your attorney will be able to advise you in such cases.
While these state laws govern civil cases, such as a personal injury claim for a dog bite injury, Irvine and Orange County maintain local laws that, while not concerned with civil litigation, could be pertinent to a dog injury claim. Irvine, like most cities, requires all dogs four months old and above to have a license tag. The tags make it easier to reunite lost pets with their owners, and they provide proof of rabies vaccination. Orange County, meanwhile, has several dog laws on the books. Chapter 5 of the Orange County Code of Ordinances contains several sections pertaining to dogs and dog ownership, including the following:
Orange County also requires that if you are bitten or scratched by a dog or any domestic or wild animal, you must report the incident to county authorities.
Even though California law clearly places liability for dog bites on the owner, there can be exceptions. Your OnderLaw attorney is thoroughly versed in cases like yours, and you can rely on them for skilled guidance throughout the course of your claim.
There are a few principal types of compensation potentially available in dog bite cases.
Keeping track of bills and receipts is critical in documenting your monetary expenditures. When it comes to the cost in dollars of your less tangible injuries, your OnderLaw personal injury attorney will assist you in calculating a fair and just cash value and determining the total amount of compensation to ultimately pursue.
In many cases, the owner of the dog that injured you is a relative, friend, or neighbor. When you know the dog’s owner, a clear and carefully presented strategy for recovering damages will go a long way towards preserving a good relationship. Homeowner’s insurance often will cover animal bites or attacks, and pursuing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance carrier is often a good way to begin.
Still, an insurance claim might not prove adequate to compensate you for your injuries. The extent of the owner’s coverage and payout limits may turn out to be well below the costs you’ve incurred, or they may not have insurance at all. At OnderLaw , our lawyers know how to deal with insurance companies and are willing to strongly pursue your claim. They’re experienced in negotiating settlements, and should the case end up in a courtroom, they’ll fiercely advocate for you to obtain the highest amount of compensation possible.
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim in court expires precisely two years after the date of the incident. If your injury was not your fault and you want to recover damages, the sooner you hire a lawyer, the better. Insurers usually have little incentive to pay or settle a claim promptly. A quality personal injury lawyer knows how to motivate insurance companies to take action and how to reach timely settlements. Bringing in an attorney early in the process will help you avoid a last-minute court filing, or worse, missing the deadline entirely. Two years isn’t always as long as it seems.
For nearly twenty years, OnderLaw has been successfully representing clients who’ve suffered injury or damages through no fault of their own. To date, we’ve obtained over $3 billion in compensation for our clients. Our outstanding track record, however, is not simply a result of our thorough understanding of the law.
Fundamental to our success is how deeply we value the human connection. We take the time to get to know each client as a unique individual, one who’s trying to recover a sense of normalcy while healing from injury.
If you’ve suffered injury in a dog bite incident, call OnderLaw now. Your initial consultation will cost you nothing, and we’ll listen carefully, ask the right questions, and give you an honest assessment of your case. And we only charge for our services once we’ve secured compensation for you.
Call us today. We’re ready to fight for you and your interests every step of the way.