Nearly 14 percent of dog bite injuries in the United States occur in California, and if you are among those injured, you have rights. Most dogs are friendly, and docile, and want nothing more than a pat on the head or the toss of a ball. Others, however, turn aggressive and violent out of the blue and inflict serious injuries that their victims must deal with for life. An experienced dog bite lawyer can help you understand your rights following a dog bite injury.
Of the nearly 90 million dogs in the United States, roughly 4.5 million are attacked each year. In California in 2017, State Farm alone paid out almost $19 million in claims for dog bite injuries. More than half of all injuries were to children, although the elderly are often the targets of vicious dog attacks. In nearly all instances, the owner of the dog (and if applicable, his insurer) is responsible for compensating dog bite victims.
California has a strict liability law that governs dog bite injuries. In a nutshell, if a dog bites a person in a public place or while the person was lawfully in a private place, then the owner is held strictly liable for damages. Unlike some states, in California it doesn’t matter if the dog had been previously vicious or if the owner takes care to prevent the dog from biting someone; he’s still liable. And if a dog owner knows that the dog was prone to hurting others but failed to exercise control over the dog, then the owner can even be cited criminally if the dog attacks while roaming out of control.
Dog bite claims are best handled by an attorney who is well-versed in personal injury law. Your attorney can help you establish liability, gather evidence to support your claim, and reach out to the dog’s owner or the insurance company to seek compensation. Your attorney can help you determine an appropriate amount of compensation that will make you whole again. This is typically a mix of medical bills, future medical expenses, lost income, and the cost of any rehabilitation required. Further, your claim should take into consideration any permanent scarring and disfigurement and any permanent disability that results from the attack. In some instances, you may also be awarded punitive damages for pain and suffering, and emotional stress caused by this traumatic event. Your lawyer will be instrumental in ensuring you get the maximum compensation afforded to you under the law, usually without going to trial. Most insurers are willing to negotiate a settlement instead of taking a case to court, especially when the odds are stacked against a positive outcome.
It is important to note that dog bite claims fall under the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. In California, you have just two years from the date of injury under Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 312 et seq. to file a claim. Be sure to contact a Los Angeles dog bite attorney as soon as possible following the attack to get the ball rolling on your dog bite injury claim. The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg can help you get the compensation you deserve. Schedule your free consultation now to discuss your case.