Some four-legged friends aren’t so friendly. When a dog bites or attacks a person, it can leave traumatic physical wounds and deep psychological scars. Plus, what may look like a surface injury can quickly turn into a festering wound or infection. In other words, dog bites can be significant.

If you have been bitten or otherwise injured by a dog, you need the help that a Modesto personal injury attorney from OnderLaw can provide. At OnderLaw, we understand that not all dog bite cases need to be taken to court, especially if family or friends are involved. However, we also know that dog bites can cause serious injuries, and you deserve compensation for your expenses. That is why we pride ourselves on offering dog bite victims compassionate service while laying out all the ways they may be able to recover compensation.

To talk to an experienced Modesto dog bite lawyer with OnderLaw, call our office today. We provide a free and confidential case evaluation to help you review your legal options.

How Dog Bites Occur

Why does man’s best friend suddenly turn into his worst enemy? There are numerous reasons a dog may instinctively react with a bite rather than a tail wag. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that most dog bites are preventable. Typically, they are the result of a dog being in a stressful situation. When an animal is stressed or feels threatened, it may lash out with a bite to let you know it’s uncomfortable. Dogs who are sick or injured may also bite or nip to let a person know they want to be left alone.

Dogs may also bite if they are “resource guarding.” Resource guarding is characterized by a dog using aggressive behaviors to protect its food or toys. This behavior may be especially dangerous to small children who do not understand a dog’s boundaries.

Dogs may also react by biting when they are provoked. Again, this can happen when children or even adults provoke or poke an animal or get too close to the animal’s face when the animal is showing signs they are stressed or annoyed.

Unfortunately, there are also instances where dog owners may be negligent in the care or training of their animals. Sometimes animals are simply untrained and unsocialized. These animals don’t know how to interact with other people and animals. Other times, these animals are bred for their aggressive traits and are used in illegal dog fighting or for “home protection.” These dogs may have aggressive behaviors or tendencies that can be risky to people if the dog escapes their home environment. These types of dogs may be more inclined to engage in an all-out attack instead of simply biting a person.

Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks

Dogs are powerful animals with incredible instincts. Although characteristics may vary by breed, all dogs come from a line of wild animals that are capable hunters and protectors. Some dogs may bite and then run away, leaving a person with puncture wounds. Other dogs may not let go and cause debilitating injuries. Some of the most common injuries associated with dog bites and dog attacks include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Scrapes
  • Cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Crushing injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Head injuries
  • Facial injuries

Serious dog bite injuries can also result in anxiety and emotional trauma, as well as depression. This may be especially true in cases where there is significant scarring due to the bites themselves or the need for skin grafts to repair tissue damage.

Physical trauma isn’t the only thing that dog bite victims need to worry about. Bacteria in an animal’s mouth can be transferred to a person through a bite wound. Statistics show that anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of dog bite wounds will become infected. Some of the most common infections that people need to be on the lookout for include:

  • MRSA
  • Tetanus
  • Pasteurella
  • Capnocytophaga
  • Rabies

Signs of infection may include the following:

  • Redness or swelling of the wound
  • Pus or drainage from the wound
  • Warmth near the bite
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

If it is possible, try to get the animal’s vaccination history from the owner. Rabies infections in the United States are rare because of vaccination efforts, but rabies can be a concern if you don’t know the animal. The disease has a 99 percent mortality rate when left untreated. Other infections can also lead to serious medical complications, including sepsis.

Dog Laws and Regulations in California

California is known as a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. In strict liability states, the owner of the dog cannot circumvent liability for a dog bite by claiming that they didn’t know their animal would react aggressively. The law also means that the dog does not have to have a history of bites or aggression for the owner to be responsible for a bite injury. No matter the reason for the bite, the dog owner is responsible for the resulting damage as long as the bite happened in a public or private place the victim was lawfully visiting.

The state also has laws in place that protect victims from dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. California considers a dog a dangerous animal if:

  • People have previously been forced to defend themselves from the dog’s unprovoked actions or aggressive behavior. This must happen in at least two separate incidents over three years
  • The dog bites an individual without provocation
  • The animal has either injured or killed a domestic animal without provocation twice in three years

California courts can also intervene and rule a dog vicious under the following circumstances:

  • The animal aggressively caused some sort of an injury or death, unprovoked
  • A court has already found the dog potentially dangerous, and the dog repeated the dangerous behaviors
  • A court previously found the dog potentially dangerous, and the owners failed to meet all their legal obligations

Compensation for Dog Bites

Compensation for a dog bite may depend on the severity of the injury. Generally, dog bite victims may be able to recover money for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Disability
  • Pain and suffering

Securing compensation after a dog bite can be done in several different ways. One way may be to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the dog. However, many dog bite claims are covered by the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy. Since many dog bites are inflicted by the dogs owned by friends, family members, and neighbors, filing a claim with an insurance company may be the most amicable way to recover compensation.

Data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute found that in 2020, dog bites and dog attacks claims ended up costing homeowner insurers about $854 million. California had the highest number of dog bite claims in the U.S., with 2,103.

However, filing an insurance claim is not always simple, and an insurance company will always be watching their bottom line, not yours. It is still in your best interest to consult with an experienced Modesto dog bite attorney, even if you are filing an insurance claim. An attorney can help you file an accurate and detailed claim while aggressively negotiating for appropriate compensation on your behalf.

Statute of Limitations of Dog Bite Claims

It can be a difficult decision to pursue a claim against a dog owner, especially when the owner is family or a friend. The difficulty of this decision may result in a person holding off on pursuing a legal compensation claim. While this is understandable, it can work against you if you eventually do need to recover money for medical expenses or other damages in court. California only gives dog bite victims two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.

If you hold out too long while hoping for a resolution, you may end up missing your window for filing a lawsuit to get compensation. The courts can dismiss a dog bite case if it is filed after the deadline without ever hearing it. This may leave you with little to no recourse for recovering compensation for your expenses.

Why Choose OnderLaw?

A dog bite or animal attack can leave a victim with traumatic and life-altering wounds, both physical and mental. Unfortunately, many dog bite cases involve the pets of family, friends, or people we know. That is why you need OnderLaw on your side from the start. At OnderLaw, we understand that a dog bite claim may create a bit of a sensitive situation. We will handle your case with the utmost respect and compassion while advocating for you.

The Modesto team at OnderLaw can assess your situation and review all viable options with you for seeking compensation. We can determine who may be liable for the attack, gather supporting evidence and documentation, and negotiate on your behalf. You deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries, and that is what we aim to recover.

Contact a Modesto Dog Bite Attorney Today

If you or your child has been bitten by a dog or suffered injuries from a dog attack, the Modesto dog bite lawyers at OnderLaw may be able to help. We know seeking compensation can be hard, which is why we are ready to fight for you. Our compassionate team wants to help you get the money you deserve so that you can start the process of moving forward with your life.

Get started today with a free and confidential consultation. Call us and talk to an attorney about your situation today.