Man’s best friend? Try again. Due to the emotional connection humans have with dogs, dog bites are deeply traumatic. They could lead to serious physical injury and permanent disability. On top of the emotional and physical trauma brought on by a dog bite, there are many legal questions you will need to consider. Who is liable for the bite? Will you receive any financial support for your medical bills? If so, how much? What if multiple people are responsible? What are the laws surrounding dogs and dog owners in California?

You need someone fighting in your corner who is experienced at navigating the law. Our team of Oxnard personal injury lawyers are here to help. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, give us a call, and we will take care of the difficult questions surrounding who is liable for the attack and what action to take next. Your initial consultation is free.

How Do Dog Bites Occur?

When kids approach a dog, you hear them ask, “does your dog bite?” or “is your dog friendly?”  While it is important to understand your dog’s boundaries and temperament, it’s equally important to acknowledge that any dog can attack and bite. It doesn’t matter how old, how well-trained, or how well-socialized, a dog in a stressful or dangerous situation can lash out.

Often, it seems like dog bites come out of nowhere. However, this is rarely the case. There are several warning signs that indicate a dog bite is likely to occur.

  • Neglect or Abuse. If an owner is abusive to their dog or neglects it entirely, the dog has no chance to learn proper behavior and is likely to bite. Abused animals do not consider humans to be friends and are generally more fearful, which means they are prone to aggressive behavior.
  • Fear. If something, or someone, comes too close and invades its space, a dog is likely to begin behaving aggressively to create space between itself and the perceived threat. Being around a dog when it is afraid is a high risk.
  • Stress. Dogs can become overwhelmed. Be it from other animals, loud sounds, a large number of people, or even too much physical touch, when a dog experiences sensory overload, it might bite in an attempt to “turn it all off.”
  • Play. When play with other dogs or people gets too rowdy, a gentle-tempered dog could get overly excited and bite someone. In these situations, dogs do not intend harm but can still seriously injure.
  • Protection/Guarding. Some dogs are protective of their toys and food. It is common for dogs to engage in a behavior called “guarding.” Like the word indicates, guarding is when dogs fiercely defend their food and toys. If someone tries to interrupt their mealtime or playtime by taking something away from them, a dog may bite in anger.

Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks

When dogs lash out, it is most often with their teeth, leading to puncture wounds of the skin. However, bites can lead to many other types of injury. If you have been attacked by a dog, it’s critical that you visit the emergency room immediately.

  • Broken bones. Animal bones are a traditional part of a dog’s diet. They have the ability to crush up bones into small fragments and digest them. When this ability is paired with aggression, dogs can break or fracture human bones.
  • Head and Neck Injury. The jaw of a dog is incredibly powerful. Think of how dogs play tug: they grip onto an object with their teeth, clench their jaw, and swing their head back and forth. If someone is unfortunate enough to get their head or neck close to a dog acting out in aggression, serious harm can occur.
  • Eye Injury. As mentioned above, if your head is near an aggressive dog, your face and eyes are at risk. Dogs’ teeth are long and can easily puncture and damage eyes.
  • Nerve Damage. Wherever puncture wounds are present, nerve damage is possible. A dog’s teeth are capable of injuring a human’s valuable nerve endings, possibly leading to permanent disability.
  • Infection/Rabies. The fact of the matter is, you don’t know where a dog’s teeth have been. A dog’s mouth could be carrying harmful bacteria or even rabies. Rabies is a fatal disease. It can only be cured with a series of expensive vaccinations given in a very specific window of time.
  • Emotional Trauma. Immediately after a dog bite, your priority should be seeing your doctor and getting treatment for any physical trauma suffered. But healing from emotional trauma is important, as well. If you’ve been attacked by a dog, you likely feel hurt, betrayed, and scared about your future interactions with animals.

Dog Laws/Regulations in California

California is considered a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. That means what the dog does, the owner must pay for. It doesn’t matter if the owner didn’t know the dog was aggressive or even if the dog has no history of violence. If a dog bites and injures someone, the owner must provide financial compensation to the victim. Furthermore, the owner can’t claim that it trained and disciplined the dog to prevent an attack. If a dog bites someone, and that person was either in a public place, or lawfully present in a private place, the owner pays.

Additionally, should you be bitten by someone else’s dog, the owner must provide you with the dog’s tag number and their contact information within 48 hours of the bite. If it turns out that the dog has bitten someone on two separate occasions, anyone can file a lawsuit against the dog’s owners.

That being said, there are some possible defenses for dog owners. If the victim was trespassing at the time of the bite, the owner may not be liable. Or, if the victim was somehow responsible for the attack, the owner may not have to pay as much to the injured party. Finally, the “strict liability” laws only apply to dog bites. If a dog pushes someone down or runs into the street and causes a car accident, for example, the owner is not always liable.

Can You Be Compensated for a Dog Bite?

In short, yes. If you have been bitten by a dog, you are eligible to receive compensation for your physical and mental trauma.

However, most victims are neighbors, friends, or even family members of the dog’s owner. They have probably been around the dog before, and are comfortable with it. Not only does that make the emotional trauma more difficult to overcome, but it could also add a great deal of stress when seeking financial compensation. Many victims think that in order to be compensated for their injuries, they have to enter into a long legal battle with the dog owner, who is likely a friend or family member. This is most often not the case.

In fact, most homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage for dog bites. The insurance policy can cover many aspects of your recovery, including ambulance rides, medication, physical therapy, surgery, future loss of income, defensive measures, such as putting up a fence, ruined clothing, therapy to resolve emotional trauma, and loss in your quality of life.

The only way to ensure that you receive the money you deserve is by hiring a lawyer. The skilled team at OnderLaw will organize all of your medical bills, review the circumstances of your accident, assess all damages owed to you, and work diligently to get you the money you deserve.

Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims

The statute of limitations on dog bites in California is two years. While that means you have an extended period of time to take legal action, it is recommended to act as soon as possible. The longer you wait after the incident, the higher the chance you’ll lose important paperwork. If you lose track of medical bills, prescriptions, doctor’s notes, or appointments, you might not have enough evidence to receive the maximum amount of compensation. You should begin to gather information and paperwork and talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

If you allow the statutory deadline to pass without filing a lawsuit, when you eventually do file, the court will likely dismiss your case, which means you’ve lost your chance to obtain compensation through the court system.

Why Choose OnderLaw?

After falling victim to a dog bite, it is hard enough to regain your physical health without added stress about how you’ll afford your medical care. You need a strong, experienced, compassionate team in your corner that will get you the funds you deserve. OnderLaw has handled many dog bite cases and can apply their skills and knowledge to your case, as well.

Since 2002, OnderLaw has helped clients gain over $3 billion in compensation. Our team is nationally recognized by the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Super Lawyers, and Rue Ratings Best Attorneys in America. Every lawyer on our team is a compassionate advocate that knows the law inside and out. We will work tirelessly to get you back to your full, healthy, and happy life.

Call OnderLaw Today

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, the first thing on your mind is probably not “how is this going to impact me for years to come?” Your focus should be on getting high-quality medical treatment and recuperating. But dog bites can, and will, have far-reaching effects on your life. You deserve financial compensation for those negative impacts.

Let the professionals at OnderLaw handle the complex legal questions, so you can focus on getting better. You can trust us to pursue the money you deserve and help you get your life back. Give us a call today to speak with a skilled attorney and get started on getting just compensation.