Representing Dog Bite Victims in San Diego, CA
Dogs are some of the most popular pets throughout the United States. While the vast majority of these pets are friendly and loyal, dog attacks can and do occur throughout the country regularly. Every state has unique dog bite laws that apply to these situations. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite in California, it’s essential to understand the state’s laws that apply to these incidents.
Have You Been Injured by a Dog in San Diego, CA?
Dog bite injuries can be painful and debilitating. Some dog bite injuries may heal physically but cause lasting psychological trauma to the victim. Other dog bites are more severe, requiring hospitalization and ongoing medical treatment to manage the victim’s symptoms. Some victims, unfortunately, do not survive dog attacks.
Suppose you or a family member recently suffered a dog bite injury in the San Diego, CA, area. In that case, it is vital to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible to determine the best available legal options for recovering your damages. The right San Diego dog bite lawyer can help you hold the dog’s owner accountable for your damages and maximize your compensation to the fullest extent possible under California state law.
Is It Worth Suing for a Dog Bite?
You may wonder whether you have grounds for legal action against a dog’s owner after sustaining a dog bite injury or whether it would be worth the time and effort to take legal action against them. While some dog attacks only cause minor injuries that may require little more than home first aid care, others are much more serious and damaging. If you suffered an injury that required hospitalization, and if the dog attack you experienced was a highly traumatic event, you must acknowledge that the full scope of your damages may not be immediately apparent.
Filing a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner could be your best option for recovering your medical expenses and other economic losses resulting from the incident. However, if you consider taking legal action against the dog’s owner, securing legal representation from an experienced San Diego dog bite attorney is crucial. Your case may not be as simple as it seems at first, and the right lawyer can make a tremendous positive impact on the outcome of your claim.
California provides a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, meaning you have two years from the date your dog attack occurred to file a civil claim against the dog’s owner. This may seem like enough time to consider whether it would be worth filing a lawsuit, but time is crucial for any civil claim. If you are not sure whether you should file a dog bite injury claim, Chris and Frank can review the details of your situation and provide the individualized guidance you need to make an informed decision.
California’s Strict Liability Law
Each state’s dog bite laws are unique. Some states uphold “one bite” rules, meaning that once a dog bites someone else, they are classified as a dangerous dog. If the dog’s owner did not anticipate their dog would attack someone, they might avoid liability for the victim’s damages. However, if they attack someone after being classified as a dangerous dog; the owner absorbs all liability for the victim’s damages. California enforces a strict liability law when it comes to dog attacks. This means a dog’s owner is strictly liable for all injuries their dog causes to another person regardless of whether the dog has any known history of aggression or attacking people. Even if the dog has always been perfectly behaved and suddenly attacks someone, the dog’s owner is strictly liable for the victim’s damages.
Proving Fault for a Dog Bite Injury
California’s strict liability law may indicate that a dog’s owner is always liable for injuries their dog causes to others, but this is not entirely true. If you intend to take legal action against a dog’s owner in response to their dog attacking you, you must be able to prove that you were lawfully present at the location where the attack occurred. This means you must have been on public property, your own private property, or someone else’s private property with their permission.
California’s strict liability rule for dog attacks does not apply to trespassers and intruders. This means if you are at home, someone breaks into your house, and your dog attacks and injures them, you are not liable for their injuries as they were not lawfully present at the location where the attack occurred.
A dog’s owner may also avoid liability for a dog attack if they prove that the plaintiff provoked the dog to attack. For example, if they advanced on the dog owner in a threatening manner, abused the dog somehow, or otherwise antagonized the dog in a way that prompted a natural threat response, the dog’s owner could use this as an affirmative defense against strict liability. In some cases, proving provocation could assert comparative negligence on the plaintiff in a dog bite injury case, and California’s pure comparative negligence law would come into play. This law states that a plaintiff loses a percentage of their case award equal to their percentage of fault for causing their claimed damages.
Damages and Compensation in a California Dog Bite Claim
A dog attack can easily result in painful injuries, which may require extensive recovery time or even cause permanent medical complications for the victim. These injuries, in turn, create a financial strain for the victim, sometimes forcing them to stay home from work while they recover and generating expensive medical bills. California’s personal injury laws allow an injured plaintiff to claim compensation for all damages they sustain due to a defendant’s actions. In addition, California’s strict liability law for dog attacks means that if a dog attacks a person who was on the property legally, the dog’s owner is liable. Furthermore, the victim must have done nothing to provoke the dog or threaten the dog’s owner.
It’s common for dog bite injury claim victims to undervalue their claims at first until they secure legal counsel from experienced San Diego dog bite attorneys. Your dog bite injury claim could potentially help you secure compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses, both immediate and future. Your dog bite injury may cause painful injuries that demand immediate medical treatment, but your medical expenses may not end there. Many dog bite injuries cause long-term damage. For example, a strong bite on the victim’s hand may cause crushing injuries and nerve damage that could take months or even years to fully heal. The victim may require ongoing therapy and rehabilitation to restore full functionality to their hand. Therefore, the plaintiff in a dog bite injury claim can recover compensation for all medical expenses incurred from a dog bite injury.
- Lost income. Your injuries may require you to miss work until they fully heal. You have the right to add income lost during your recovery to your dog bite injury claim. If you suffer severe injuries that are likely to cause permanent damage and prevent you from resuming your job, you have the right to seek compensation for your lost future earning potential. Your San Diego dog bite lawyer will help you calculate the income you would have reasonably expected to earn in the future had the incident not occurred.
- Property damage. Suppose your dog attack also resulted in damage to any of your personal property. In that case, you have the right to add repair and replacement costs to your civil claim as economic damages.
Securing maximum compensation for your losses is one of the most important reasons to hire an experienced San Diego dog bite attorney to handle your claim. While most people can calculate immediate damages like hospital bills and lost income during their initial recovery periods, experienced lawyers are crucial to thoroughly investigating all available compensation channels and maximizing recovery from a dog bite claim.
Pain and Suffering Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury
Dog attacks not only cause painful physical injuries but also psychological trauma to victims. Any dog attack can be a sudden and terrifying experience. California’s personal injury laws allow a plaintiff to claim compensation for non-economic damages in addition to their economic damages. These non-economic damages seek to compensate a victim’s physical pain, emotional distress, and psychological trauma caused by a defendant’s negligence.
It may seem difficult to assign a monetary figure to something like physical pain or emotional trauma, but there are several methods an experienced attorney might use to calculate acceptable pain and suffering compensation for their client. For example, suppose the victim’s injuries are expected to heal completely with time and proper treatment. In that case, the attorney may seek “per diem” compensation that awards a certain amount of compensation for every day the plaintiff spends in recovery until they reach maximum medical improvement.
More severe dog bite injuries can be incredibly traumatizing and result in life-changing injuries for the victim. When a dog bite injury claim involves permanent injuries, the victim’s attorney will likely seek a more significant lump sum in pain and suffering compensation. The amount sought typically reflects the amount of the plaintiff’s claimed economic damages, the severity of their injuries, and their degree of permanent impairment resulting from the incident. When a dog attack results in any permanent disability for the victim, the pain and suffering compensation they receive is likely to form the bulk of their total recovery.
How Your San Diego Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
Navigating any civil claim is much easier when you have reliable legal counsel on your side. An experienced San Diego dog bite lawyer can help their client approach their case with understanding and confidence. Primarily, you will be able to rest and recover with peace of mind knowing your legal affairs are in capable hands while your legal team manages the preliminary phases of your case, such as filing the necessary paperwork with the court and filing pretrial motions on your behalf. Next, you can rely on your attorney to gather all the evidence you may require for establishing the defendant’s liability for your dog bite injuries. This may include a medical report from your doctor outlining the full extent of your injuries and your future prognosis, testimony from witnesses who saw the attack occur, and other physical evidence secured from the scene of the attack.
When a dog bite injury claim involves complex issues such as psychological trauma, your San Diego dog bite lawyer may consult with expert witnesses to support your claim and substantiate your damages before the court. For example, if you sought mental health counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder following the dog attack and have experienced anxiety around dogs since your incident, an expert witness with a mental health treatment background can help the court understand the full scope of your experience and the effects it has had on your mental well-being. In addition, other medical experts may be necessary for explaining the physical complications you are likely to experience from the dog bite injury.
Ultimately, hiring the right San Diego dog bite lawyer to represent you not only increases your chance of success with your claim but will also likely lead to far more compensation than you could have hoped to secure if you filed your case alone. Your San Diego dog bite attorney will guide you through every stage of your case, from preliminary filings to settlement negotiations with the dog’s owner.
It is natural to have many questions about your legal options after experiencing a dog attack in San Diego. Whether the dog that injured you belongs to a stranger, a neighbor, your best friend, or a relative, it is vital to know your rights and your legal options for holding them accountable for your losses. If a dog’s owner bears liability for your damages, there is no reason you should bear their cost alone. Chris and Frank can provide the meticulous and compassionate legal guidance you need to confidently approach your dog bite injury claim. If you are ready to discuss your legal options with an experienced team of San Diego dog bite injury attorneys, contact us today for more information about the legal services we provide and schedule a consultation with our team.
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