Stockton Dog Bite Injury Lawyers
If you were injured by a dog bite or attack in Stockton, you might be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. The Stockton personal injury attorneys of OnderLaw, LLC could represent you in your case and help you hold the owner liable for your medical treatment, lost income, and other losses you suffered.
Dog attacks can lead to severe injuries and even death. Although dogs of a small breed don’t seem dangerous, they can inflict serious harm when they bite someone, just the same as big dogs can. Their teeth are sharp and can puncture the skin and damage the muscles, nerves, and tissue below. Most victims require emergency medical care to clean out the wounds and prevent infection.
Medical bills are expensive. You could face debt if you’re paying out of pocket for the various costs you incur from the injury. You should not be financially responsible for these expenses if your actions didn’t contribute to the attack in any way. The dog’s owner should assume liability and provide the necessary compensation so you can heal and move forward with your life.
The Stockton dog bite injury lawyers of OnderLaw, LLC are available 24/7 to take your call. We are prepared to advocate for your rights and pursue the maximum possible compensation. We will remain by your side from start to finish of the process and provide the guidance and support you need to get through this traumatic experience. Call us for your free initial consultation today at (314) 963-9000.
How Dog Bites Occur
Some dog breeds are more aggressive and dangerous than others. If you encounter one of these dangerous breeds, you could be at a greater risk of suffering injuries in an attack. However, even non-aggressive breeds can bite someone for various reasons.
The most common causes of dog attacks and bite injuries are:
- Illness – Serious medical issues can cause friendly dogs to behave aggressively. They might become quick-tempered and lash out at anyone who approaches them.
- Protectiveness – Some dogs display overly protective behaviors when someone enters their perceived territory. They could growl or bark and show their teeth to warn the person to back off. If they start to feel threatened, they might lunge and bite the victim.
- Rough play – Some dogs don’t realize how big or strong they are. They might jump on humans and other animals when they’re playing. If they get too excited, they could bite someone too hard, causing injuries.
- Being startled – Some dog breeds are inherently friendly and loveable. They aren’t aggressive towards others and know when they need to be particularly gentle, such as when around young children. However, being startled by someone sneaking up behind them or waking them from a deep sleep could result in a nip or severe bite.
- Fear – Many dogs attack people if they’re afraid. They could perceive someone’s behavior as aggressive or threatening. If you approach a dog suddenly or try to pet it without warning, it could clamp down on your hand to protect itself.
- Being provoked – If you provoke a dog, it could bite. Whether from fear or to instinctively protect itself, it could lunge at you and chomp down on any body part in front of it.
If a dog attacked you, you should take immediate action to hold the dog’s owner liable. They should be financially responsible for your injury and resulting losses if their dog caused any harm.
Common Injuries Suffered in Dog Attacks
A dog bite isn’t the only thing you should worry about during an attack. You could suffer additional injuries if the wound becomes infected or complications arise from severe damage. The most common injuries caused by dog attacks are:
- Eye injuries
- Psychological or emotional trauma
- Significant disfigurement
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Fractured bones in the feet, toes, fingers, or hands
- Torn muscle, ligament, or tissue
- Neck and face injuries
- Permanent scarring
Without immediate and adequate medical care, you could experience a range of complications that put your health and life at risk. The most common complications of dog bites are:
- Sepsis – Sepsis occurs when the body reacts aggressively to an infection. It can become life-threatening if it spreads throughout the body and affects vital organs.
- Capnocytophaga – Animals, such as dogs, typically have this type of bacteria in their mouths. The bacteria can spread to a person through an open wound from a bite or scratch. Anyone with a weakened immune system could develop a severe infection if this bacteria enters their body.
- Tetanus – Tetanus is an infection that can develop in the body from certain bacteria. A tetanus vaccine and antibiotics are required to prevent the infection from spreading and causing medical issues.
- Rabies – A dog with rabies that bites a human or another animal can spread this viral infection from their saliva. It can be fatal without the necessary treatment.
Some infections that spread throughout the body can cause significant damage and put the victim’s life at risk. In some cases, surgery is the only option, and a doctor might need to amputate a leg, hand, or arm to prevent the infection from spreading any further.
Dogs Laws/Regulations in California
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. That means the owner becomes liable for any losses the injured party suffers, such as medical expenses, regardless of the owner’s knowledge of their dog’s viciousness or the dog’s previous vicious behavior as long as the victim were lawfully in a private place like the owner’s home or on public property.
The only exceptions that could prevent the dog’s owner from being liable are:
Trespassing – The injured victim was trespassing on public property or unlawfully on private property. However, it might be possible to seek compensation if the owner knew their dog was dangerous or was negligent in causing the attack.
Government animals – A government agency used the dog for police or military work and:
- The victim harassed, annoyed, or provoked the dog, causing it to defend itself;
- The bite occurred during the execution of a warrant or criminal investigation;
- The dog was assisting law enforcement in apprehending someone suspected of engaging in criminal activity; or
- The dog was defending the police officer or another person.
Comparative negligence – California has a pure comparative negligence statute. That means a jury could reduce a person’s financial award by their percentage of shared fault for an injury. If the victim’s actions contributed to the attack in any way, the owner is no longer 100% liable for the resulting losses.
Assumption of risk – Some occupations come with inherent risks that the employee knows about. For example, veterinarians and kennel workers know they could suffer injuries from a dog bite or attack. They assumed the risk by entering these occupations, so strict liability would not apply to the dog’s owner. However, they can pursue compensation if the owner’s actions were negligent.
Compensation for Dog Bites
Many dog bite victims know the owner. You might be their neighbor, friend, or family member. If the attack happened on their property, you don’t have to sue them for compensation. You could file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance company. However, it’s crucial that you understand how homeowner’s insurance policies work.
Not all insurance companies provide automatic coverage for dog bites. The homeowner might need to opt in to obtain that specific coverage on their policy. Some insurance companies include breed restrictions, meaning someone injured during an attack by that particular breed of dog can’t hold the owner responsible under strict liability laws.
If the dog’s owner does have homeowner’s insurance with dog bite coverage, you could file a claim and seek compensation for the losses you suffered, such as:
- Physical impairment or disfigurement
- Past and future medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Damage to personal property
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
If you choose to file a lawsuit, you could also recover exemplary damages as long as there’s clear and convincing evidence that the dog owner’s behavior was malicious, oppressive, or fraudulent. Instead of compensating you for your losses, an award of this type punishes the defendant for their wrongdoing.
Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims
There’s a timeframe you must comply with if you want to file a lawsuit after a dog attack. California has a two-year statute of limitations for injury or death due to someone’s neglect or wrongful act. That means you must initiate your lawsuit within two years from the date of your dog bite injury. After this deadline passes, you could lose your right to pursue compensation for your losses in court.
Why Choose OnderLaw, LLC?
The Stockton dog bite injury lawyers of OnderLaw, LLC dedicate our time, attention, and resources to every case we take. We work hard to meet your needs and achieve your legal goals. You will be our top priority as we’re working on your insurance claim or lawsuit and receive the one-on-one attention you deserve.
OnderLaw, LLC understands the economic burden of a dog bite injury. You might struggle to afford your medical bills and face possible debt. We don’t want to add more expenses to your plate, which is why we take cases on contingency. That means there are no upfront fees or costs when you retain our services. We won’t expect payment of our legal fees unless we recover compensation for you.
Call OnderLaw, LLC Today
If you sustained injuries in a dog attack or someone you love died from a fatal dog bite injury, do not hesitate to call OnderLaw, LLC. We can review the details of the incident to determine whether the owner should be held liable. We have experience investigating dog bite cases and gathering the available evidence to prove what happened. You can depend on us to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.
Call (314) 963-9000 right now for your free consultation with one of our Stockton dog bite injury lawyers.