Have you or someone you love been injured by a dog in Santa Ana? Did this dog attack cause you severe injury, financial loss, or trauma? If so, you should consider speaking to the Santa Ana personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw about filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit. We have nearly two decades’ experience helping injured Santa Ana residents and others get the compensation they deserve, and we can use that experience to help you. Don’t let a dog bite affect your future. Call today for a free consultation.

How Dog Bites Occur

Dog bites are common in the United States. According to the CDC, there are over 800,000 dog bites in this country every year that require medical attention, and over 300,000 of those require hospitalization. Contrary to popular belief, most dog bites occur around the home, and most people are bitten by the family dog or a dog they are familiar with. Seventy-seven percent of dogs that bite are owned by the victim’s family, a relative, or a friend of the family.

A dog bite can occur regardless of any previous history of bites or vicious behavior in a dog. All breeds and sizes of dogs will bite if provoked, and children make up over 50 percent of dog bite victims. In fact, dog bites are the second most common cause of emergency room visits for children in America.

There are several reasons why children are more susceptible to dog bites than adults. Children are less likely to note body language or signals that a dog may be uncomfortable. They’re also similar in size to dogs, which can make dogs think they may be a threat or competition for food. This similarity in size means children are closer to eye level for large dogs, making them easy targets for bites to the face and head. Children also engage in behavior that an adult might not, such as hugging, riding, or grabbing a dog.

Dogs bite for a variety of reasons, but the majority of dog bites are the result of a dog being startled or provoked. They may also bite if they feel threatened, during play, if they don’t feel well, or to defend something, such as their food or a toy.

Despite the prevalence of dog bites, fatalities by dog bite are exceedingly rare. Of the several hundred thousand dog bites that occurred in 2018, only 36 were fatal.

Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks

Dog bites usually cause lacerations or puncture wounds, but they can cause additional injury if the dog grabs hold and doesn’t let go. Some injuries common to dog attacks include:

  • Broken bones
  • Crushing injuries
  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations
  • Abrasions
  • Face and eye injuries
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Avulsion
  • Head and neck injuries

Dog Laws and Regulations in California

California has laws governing how dogs are treated and handled in the state. There are a variety of different codes and regulations, including:

  • California Penal Code 398 states that anyone whose dog bites another person has an obligation to leave the bite victim their contact information and information about the dog.
  • CA Penal Code 399 states that any dog owner that has knowledge of their dog’s vicious behavior and allows the dog to run free and kill another person can be charged with a felony.
  • CA Penal Code 597z states that it is illegal to sell any dog under eight weeks old in California.
  • California Health and Safety Codes state that dogs are allowed in outdoor dining areas as long as there’s an outdoor entrance, and the dogs remain leashed.
  • Penal Code 399.5 states that it is illegal to keep a dog that is trained to fight, attack, or kill in California.
  • California has a strict liability law with regard to dog bites, meaning that a dog owner is liable for any and all attacks by their dog, regardless of the dog’s previous record of bites or vicious behavior.

Compensation for Dog Bites in Santa Ana

Compensation for dog bites depends on the severity of the injury and the circumstances that caused it. You’ll likely be able to obtain more compensation for a dog bite that involved a known vicious dog that was allowed to roam free than you would for a dog bite that involved the family dog being startled or frightened.

If you were bitten by a dog belonging to someone you know, you may worry that the relationship will be compromised if you ask for money for your medical bills. In most cases, dog bites are covered under homeowners’ insurance. Get a copy of your friend’s policy and forward it to us. That way, you don’t deal with this matter directly with your friend, and we would deal with their homeowners’ insurance provider. You can preserve your relationship, and your friend won’t be paying out of pocket for your medical bills.

The amount you may be able to obtain for a dog bite claim is unique in every case. We would need to fully review your circumstances to determine what compensation you might be eligible to receive.

Compensation is broken down according to the losses, or damages, you sustained as a result of the dog bite. Some of these damages relate to treating the injury, and some of them relate to the emotional burden of dealing with the injury itself.

Economic damages are any losses with a dollar amount attached. These monetary losses apply to treating or living with the injury and include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Lost opportunity
  • Household expenses

Non-economic damages are losses relating to the injury itself. These losses are more nebulous in nature and require the assistance of an attorney to estimate accurately. Some examples include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Reputational damage
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Mental anguish

In cases of extreme malice, oppression, or fraud, California law also allows some dog bite victims to pursue exemplary damages. These are not intended to compensate for some material or immaterial loss but rather are used as a tool to punish the bad actor and discourage them from ever behaving in the same manner again.

Exemplary damages, also called punitive damages, are only awarded by a judge or jury and only in very specific circumstances that involve gross negligence or intentional malice. They carry a much higher burden of proof than compensatory damages. There is no cap on the amount you may receive in exemplary damages in California.

Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims

California has a strict statute of limitations on filing personal injury lawsuits. Under most circumstances, this limit is two years from the date of the injury or one year from the date of discovery of the injury if it wasn’t discovered until later. If you attempt to file suit more than two years after the date of the injury, your case will likely be dismissed.

Why Choose OnderLaw to Represent Me?

OnderLaw has almost two decades of experience assisting residents of Santa Ana and elsewhere with their personal injury claims. We’ve seen it all, and we know how to make the law work for our clients. We’ve helped thousands of people just like you get the fair and just compensation they deserve after an injury.

This wealth of experience includes more than knowledge of the relevant case law. It also means we’ve helped our clients through some of the most difficult moments of their lives. As well as providing excellent legal counsel, we will provide the support and assistance your family needs during this difficult time. We understand the strain a severe injury from a dog bite can place on you, and we will do all we can to help.

This includes structuring our fee system in such a way that those without the financial means to pay for our services upfront still get top-tier legal counsel. We work on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that we will investigate your accident, build your claim, and, if necessary, file suit against the party responsible for your injury, all with no up-front cost. We only take payment for our work if we’re successful in getting you the compensation you need. If we don’t get you money, we don’t get paid.

We not only support our clients, but we also support the communities that have helped us achieve success. This includes providing donations of time and money to organizations and causes such as MADD, Lupus Foundation of America, and Toys for Tots.

But mostly, our clients choose us because we get the results they need. We’ve seen remarkable success to the tune of over $3 billion in settlements and awards. We don’t win every case, but we work tirelessly for our clients. Head to our Testimonials page to learn more.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

Call OnderLaw for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will review your case and advise you about all the legal options available to you at no cost. The consultation is free, and we only take payment if we win your case, so you have nothing to lose by contacting us. Don’t wait any longer. Call OnderLaw today.