Did you sustain a dog bite injury? Did it happen during an unprovoked attack? Were you in a public place or lawfully on private property when it happened? If so, call the San Bernardino personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw immediately. We might be able to help you hold the dog’s owner liable for your injury and recover compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, and other losses.

Dogs can bite a person for various reasons. Sometimes, they perceive certain actions as threatening and attack to protect themselves. Other times, a serious illness makes them behave aggressively because they’re in pain. Regardless of the cause of your injury, California’s state laws allow a dog bite victim to hold the owner financially responsible for resulting expenses, such as surgical costs and prescription medications.

Hospitalization and other forms of medical care can become an economic burden. You might face debt if you can’t afford your bills. The out-of-pocket expenses you incur can lead to significant stress. You should not be responsible for these costs if you don’t share any fault for the dog attack. The owner should provide the compensation you need to heal your injuries.

OnderLaw is available 24/7 to discuss the details of the incident with you and advise you about your available legal options. Call for a free consultation with one of our San Bernardino dog bite injury attorneys.

How Dog Bites Occur

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs rarely bite someone without reason. It might seem like the attack happened out of nowhere, but that may not be the case. Dogs often communicate their discomfort by growling or cowering away before resorting to biting. If you miss those warning signs, you could end up with a severe injury.

The most common causes of dog attacks and bites include:

  • Fear – If a dog becomes fearful, whether there’s a loud noise or you’re standing too close to them, they could lash out and bite.
  • Being startled – Sneaking up on a dog or waking them from a deep sleep can surprise them. They end up instinctively biting a nearby hand because they feel confused or disoriented.
  • Guarding/protecting – When dogs eat, play with a toy, or guard their owner, they become protective. They will attack anyone or anything that they perceive as a threat.
  • Frustration – Sometimes, dogs feel overwhelmed in specific scenarios. They can become frustrated and bite a person restraining them from running away or teasing them with a treat.
  • Pain – Injuries and medical problems cause pain. Since dogs can’t communicate how they feel to humans, they might bite if someone handles them too roughly or touches the site of their injury.
  • Play – Dogs will gently nip people during play. However, innocent love bites can turn into injuries if the dog is trained improperly or becomes too aggressive.

You should take immediate action if you sustained an injury from a dog bite or attack. You will need to go to the doctor and hire a lawyer, so you can begin to build your case.

Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks

A range of injuries can result from a dog attack. The most common include:

  • Facial disfigurement
  • Broken bones in the hands and fingers
  • Nerve damage
  • Torn muscle and tissue
  • Injuries to eyes, face, and head
  • Puncture wounds
  • Psychological damage
  • Permanent scars

Complications can arise after a dog bite injury. Even if the wound doesn’t seem that serious, an infection could form and enter the body. Animals can carry bacteria in their mouths and transmit it to humans through their saliva. As an infection travels through a person’s bloodstream, it can affect vital organs and possibly lead to death.

Other common complications of dog bites include:

  • Tetanus
  • Rabies
  • Blood loss
  • Sepsis
  • Organ failure
  • Mobility issues

Unfortunately, severe infections put a person’s health and life at risk. The doctor might have to amputate an arm or leg to prevent the infection from spreading further. Significant damage from the bite could lead to permanent disability. Additionally, many victims experience emotional trauma. They become fearful of dogs and have an anxiety attack every time they encounter one. Others develop depression if the bite leaves them with a disfiguring injury.

Dog Laws/Regulations in California

California has a strict liability statute regarding dog bites. If someone suffers losses from a dog bite injury, they can hold the owner liable. However, the victim must have been in a public area or lawfully on a person’s private property when the attack happened. It doesn’t matter whether the dog displayed prior viciousness or the owner knew about their dog’s viciousness before the bite occurred.

One particular exception could prevent you from holding the owner liable for your injury. If a governmental agency uses a dog for police or military work and the dog bites you to defend itself from harassing, provoking, or annoying actions, you would be prohibited from pursuing legal action. Additionally, you can’t bring a claim if the dog were assisting the agency or an employee with:

  • Investigating a crime or potential crime
  • Holding or apprehending a suspect
  • Executing a warrant
  • Defending a peace officer or another party

San Bernardino County requires owners to restrain their dogs at all times while in public places and on unenclosed private properties. That means no one can allow their dog to run at large on a public or private street, public park, sidewalk, place of public assembly, playground, or another public place or an unenclosed private lot or private property. Dogs must remain enclosed and restrained in a vehicle, cage, or another enclosure or by a leash if someone brings them outside of their property.

The San Bernardino County Animal Control Agency requires filing a report for any animal bite. They will place the dog under quarantine as a precautionary measure to observe signs of rabies. After ten days, they will release the animal if it appears healthy.

Compensation for Dog Bites

Under certain circumstances, the victim of a dog attack knows the owner. You may have been at a family member’s, friend’s, or neighbor’s house when you suffered the bite injury. Most people worry about what pursuing a case will do to the relationship. However, you don’t have to go after the owner directly for compensation. You can file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance carrier.

One of the most critical steps you need to take is to request a copy of their policy. Not all insurance companies provide coverage for dog bites, and some will even prohibit liability for specific breeds.

The settlement you receive from the insurance claim could cover various losses suffered from the attack, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Physical impairment or disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Damage to personal property
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

If your dog bite injury occurred on public property, you might be able to file a claim with the property owner’s insurance company. Many businesses will carry general liability insurance to protect them if an incident happens on their property and leads to someone’s injury.

There is also the option of filing a lawsuit. No matter where you were at the time of the attack, you could sue the party responsible for your injury. Besides pursuing compensation for your losses, you could also seek exemplary damages. An award of this type isn’t meant to compensate the victim for their losses. Instead, it punishes the at-fault party for their actions. However, you must show clear and convincing evidence to the jury of the defendant’s malice, fraud, or oppression.

Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims

Insurance companies typically don’t place time restrictions on filing a claim. Some might state that a claimant should file “promptly” or “within a reasonable amount of time.” However, they generally don’t bind you to a deadline.

Lawsuits are entirely different. You must observe the statute of limitations for incidents resulting in injury or death if you want to sue someone. The statute of limitations in California for dog bites is two years. That means you have two years from the date of the attack to file your lawsuit if you want to pursue compensation through the court system.

Why Choose OnderLaw?

OnderLaw has a proven track record of success. Since 2002, we have recovered over $3.5 billion in settlements for our clients. The reputation we built shows the level of service we provide to every accident victim that hires us. We always treat our clients with the respect, compassion, and professionalism they deserve.

The financial strain of a dog bite injury can be overwhelming. We take cases on contingency, so you won’t feel the burden of additional expenses while you’re trying to heal. We only collect our legal fees if we secure compensation for you. If we lose, you will never owe us money.

Contact a Dedicated San Bernardino Dog Bite Injury Attorney

OnderLaw is ready to take on your case and help you hold the dog’s owner responsible for their misconduct. We can handle every step of the process on your behalf so you can focus on recovering. You will be our top priority and receive ongoing guidance and support throughout the duration of your claim or case.

If you suffered a dog bite injury in San Bernardino, do not hesitate to call OnderLaw for your free consultation.