Dogs are beloved, considered loyal companions and great additions to any family. However, despite all the joy and happiness a dog can bring, they can also present a danger.
Dogs inflict most animal attacks in the United States. Dogs bite approximately five million individuals in the United States yearly.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a dog bite attack, you may pursue compensation for your injuries and losses.
You may wonder, I was attacked by a dog, now what do I do? Read on to learn the steps you should take after a dog bite attack and what you could recover in a lawsuit.
What Are the Dog Bite Laws in California?
California law operates under a strict liability statute for dog bite attacks. Strict liability means that dog owners are liable regardless of whether their dog had prior aggressive behavior or if they knew that their dog would be aggressive.
Dog owners are responsible for any attack occurring in a public place or on private property the victim lawfully visited.
A lawful visitor is a person on property performing duties assigned to them by law, like postal workers or delivery persons. A person is also a lawful visitor if the owner invites them.
There are exceptions to this strict liability rule in the following circumstances:
- A trespasser provoked the dog;
- The dog is a service animal, which is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act; or
- The dog performed military duty or law enforcement work when the bite occurred.
The law applies only to dog bites and not any other attack involving a dog. For example, suing a dog owner for injuries suffered when their dog that collided with someone is not the same as suing for a dog bite.
The injured party could not hold the dog owner responsible under the same strict liability statute. Instead, they would sue the dog owner for negligence to obtain any compensation for their injuries.
I Was Attacked by A Dog, What Do I Do?
If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite in California, there are specific steps you can take after the event to protect your rights.
- Seek Medical Attention
Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Dog bite attack victims are susceptible to infections because a dog’s mouth contains high bacteria levels.
Carefully follow your doctor’s medical orders, including completing all medication rounds. Keep all records of your injury for your attorney, as this assists in a potential claim for compensation against the dog owner.
- Find the Dog’s Owner
If you know the dog that has attacked you, contact the owner if you can do so safely. The dog owner is responsible for retrieving their dog and preventing it from attacking anyone else.
After you have sustained an attack, if you are physically able, request the contact information for the dog owner and a complete vaccination record for their dog.
- Contact Animal Control
Contact your local animal control office to file a report on the dog bite. Even if the dog is known to you, it’s a favor to you and others to report an attack. You may also be asked to report the bite to the local health department and police department.
- Gather Evidence
Take photographs of your injuries and the surrounding scene where the dog bite occurred.
For example, if a dog attacked you but was in a fenced yard, you may take photos to show that the fencing was inadequate to prevent the dog from escaping the enclosure.
Retain all documentation related to your injuries and any information you obtain about the dog from animal control or the dog’s owner.
Additionally, take down your immediate recollection of the events leading up to, during, and after the dog attack. Though you may think you’ll never forget your traumatic experience, it’s surprising how quickly sharp memories fade.
- Contact a Dog Bite Attorney
While it may feel overwhelming to immediately consider a potential lawsuit after such an attack, a qualified dog bite attorney gets to work building your case immediately and considering your compensation options.
You deserve to recover for your losses, but without an dog bite attorney, it is difficult to pursue a claim.
What Can I Recover When Suing for a Dog Bite?
California law permits dog bite victims to recover compensation through economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages represent tangible and calculable losses directly related to your injury. These damages generally include the following:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future earnings, and
- Property damage.
Keep all invoices, pay stubs, bills, and other similar documentation that supports a calculation for the above-referenced damages. Your attorney uses this evidence to support your claim for economic damages.
Non-economic damages include subjective losses from your injury’s psychological and emotional consequences. Unsurprisingly, victims of dog bite attacks often suffer emotional harm from their traumatic experiences. Non-economic damages typically include the following losses:
- Emotional distress,
- Pain and suffering,
- Permanent injury,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Loss of consortium.
Though difficult to prove, in dog bite cases, non-economic damages often more adequately compensate victims for their losses. Dog bite attacks are particularly traumatic and may leave victims with permanent injuries and scarring that forever change their lives.
Contact One Of Los Angeles’ Most Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers Today
At the Weinberg Law Offices, we work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Our legal team communicates with you throughout your case to ensure you know what’s happening in every phase.
We handle your case from the initial stage of preparing your lawsuit to aggressively negotiating on your behalf to litigating your case at trial.
While most cases settle out of court, we are fully prepared to take your case and fight for the judgment you deserve.
We are prepared to discuss all options and the best path for you and your family.