More than 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. every year, and many of them take place in California. In fact, the Los Angeles Times once referred to the state of California as the dog bite capital of the country. Dog bites can lead to dangerous infections, nerve and tissue damage, and in severe cases, reconstructive surgery. Fortunately, victims have the right to recover compensation for their injuries with the help of the personal injury attorneys in Fresno.
Who is Liable For Dog Bite Injuries in California?
California is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means if a dog bites and injures someone, the dog’s owner is held liable for these injuries. This is true regardless of whether or not the owner knew that the dog was aggressive or capable of injuring someone. The dog’s owner is liable for the injuries even if it is the first bite or first time that the dog showed signs of aggression.
Exceptions to the Strict Liability Law in California
The strict liability rule only applies when the victim was in a public place or legally on private property at the time of the bite. For example, if you are bitten while you are a guest in someone’s home, the owner is liable for your injuries. But, if you are bitten while trespassing on someone’s property, the owner is not liable for your injuries since you were not legally on the property at the time of the bite.
This rule also only applies in cases where the victim did not provoke the dog prior to the bite. If the victim provoked the dog, the owner is not liable for the victim’s injuries.
Finally, the strict liability law will not apply if the victim’s injuries were not caused by a dog bite. For example, let’s say you are injured after being knocked down to the ground by an aggressive dog. You were injured by a dog’s actions, but not a dog’s bite. In this case, the strict liability rule would not apply since you did not suffer any dog bite injuries. Negligence laws would apply instead, which means your case would be treated just like other personal injury cases.
How to Prove Liability in Dog Bite Cases
In strict liability cases, you will not need to prove that your injuries were caused by the owner’s negligence. All you will have to prove is:
- You were in a public place or legally on a private property at the time of the bite
- You were injured as a result of the dog bite
However, if you want to recover compensation for non-bite-related injuries, you will need to prove that the injuries occurred as a result of the owner’s negligence. This means you must prove:
- The dog’s owner knew that the dog was dangerous
- The dog’s owner did not take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from attacking others
- You were injured as a result of the owner’s failure to take these reasonable steps
If you can prove these elements, you can recover compensation for non-bite-related injuries.
What Types of Damages Are Awarded to Dog Bite Victims?
Dog bite victims are entitled to compensation for their injuries. Each case is unique, but victims may be awarded compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- All other expenses or losses related to the injuries
The exact amount and types of compensation you are awarded will vary on a case-by-case basis. An experienced attorney can review the details of your case to determine how much compensation you are entitled to by law.
How Are Dog Bite Cases Resolved?
Most dog bite cases are resolved outside of the courtroom. Your attorney will aggressively negotiate with the owner’s insurance company to reach a favorable settlement. Negotiating a settlement allows victims to recover compensation and resolve their cases as quickly as possible so they can put this incident in the past.
But sometimes, negotiations will stall with the at-fault party. If your attorney cannot reach a fair settlement, you have the right to take your dog bite case to court. A jury of your peers will hear arguments from both sides before deciding if you are entitled to compensation, and if so, how much.
It can take a long time to resolve a dog bite case in court, but going to court may be the best option if the at-fault party is unwilling to reach a fair settlement. It’s best to talk to your attorney to determine the best and most effective way to resolve your dog bite case.
What is the Statute of Limitations For Dog Bite Cases in California?
Each state has its own statute of limitations for dog bite cases. In California, the statute of limitations is two years. This means dog bite victims have two years from the date the bite occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit. You will lose your right to recover compensation for your injuries after this two-year deadline has passed. If you file a lawsuit after this deadline, the court will most likely toss the case out without giving you an opportunity to fight for compensation.
How Can An Attorney in Fresno Help You Recover Compensation For Your Injuries?
Many people assume that it’s easy to recover compensation for dog bite injuries because of California’s strict liability laws, but that’s not the case. The dog’s owner may try to claim that you were trespassing at the time of the incident or that you provoked the dog prior to the attack. These cases become even more complex when non-bite-related injuries are involved. In these cases, you will need to conduct a thorough investigation in order to gather evidence of the owner’s negligence.
Don’t try to fight this legal battle alone. If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from the experienced personal injury attorneys at Tomassian, Pimentel & Shapazian at once.