Riverside & Orange County Dog Bite Attorneys
According to statistics, in 2017 there were about 89.7 million dogs living in households in the U.S. as pets. This number was up significantly from the 68 million pet dogs in 2000. Most people do like dogs, whether they own one or not, however, there are some dog breeds and temperaments which can be dangerous to others. According to the CDC, as many as 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each and every year, with about 800,000 of those bites resulting in a trip to the ER or to a doctor. To put this into perspective, one out of every 69 people in the United States will experience a dog bite. Although some dogs may simply be aggressive—whether due to their breed or their training—other dogs can bite when they feel frightened or threatened, to protect themselves or their puppies, when they are startled, when they are not feeling well, in response to a stressful situation, or when overly excited while playing. Regardless of the reason a dog attacks or bites, the result is the same—an injured person.
While the Chihuahua breed actually bite more often than other breeds, bulldogs, pit bulls and German Shepherds are also more likely to bite, and can cause serious injury because of their size and aggressiveness. The majority of dog bites involve dogs which have not been spayed or neutered, and about 25 percent of fatal dog attacks are inflicted by a dog which is chained up. While it has often been made into a joke, more than 6,000 Postal Service employees were bitten by dogs in 2017. As far as fatal dog bites, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 77 percent of the dog bite deaths in 2016, with pit bulls killing 254 people in the U.S. between 2005 and 2016, and rottweilers killing 43 people during that same time period. This is not to say that every rottweiler or every pit bull is dangerous, as many of them are not, however, both breeds have been bred over the decades to be more aggressive than many other breeds of dogs.
Have you or a loved one experienced a dog bite at the fault of another? If so, our talented injury attorneys at Greenberg & Greenberg are prepared to take on your case, fighting with you every step of the way to get you the compensation you deserve.
What to Do Following a Dog Bite
Knowing what you should do after being bitten by a dog can be crucial to your health, as well as future legal action you may take. Of course, you will seek medical attention immediately following your dog bite. If you have puncture wounds or more serious injuries, do this right away. Some dogs are not properly vaccinated against rabies, and infection is always a risk with puncture wounds. If it is at all possible, take photographs of your injuries, or have a friend or loved one do so. These photos could be invaluable should you have to file a personal injury claim for your dog bite down the road.
Next, just as if you had been in a car accident, exchange information with the owner of the dog so you will be able to contact them after the incident. You will want to verify whether the dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, particularly rabies vaccinations, as well as whether the owner of the dog has insurance which can cover your injuries and lost wages. If the dog is running loose on their own, with no owner in sight, write down as much information as possible about the dog, and obtain information from any witnesses who might have seen the dog attack you. If you later file a claim for your dog bite injuries, witnesses can be an invaluable resource.
Contact the local police about the dog bite as well as the local animal control agency. Animal control may investigate the issue, or may have information about the same dog biting others. This investigation could well prevent the dog from biting another person or persons in the future, and can help your own case as well. You will also want to thoroughly document the dog bite, including your injuries and the effects of the injuries (chronic pain, the inability to perform day-to-day tasks, decreased mobility, etc.). You can accomplish this documentation through photographs, a journal, medical records, or, ideally, a combination of all of these. Write down the circumstances surrounding your dog bite with as much detail as you can possibly remember. The more documentation you have regarding your dog bite incident, the easier it will be for your California dog bite attorney to assess the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive for your injuries.
Common Injuries Resulting from Dog Bites
Pain and suffering, disfigurement, infection, rabies and nerve damage are all potential results of a dog bite or attack. Aside from the physical consequences, psychological damage, nightmares and lost income are also potential damages. Particularly in smaller children, dog bites often result in disfigurement and scarring to the face. While most of the dog bites which occur in the United States are not deadly, they can nonetheless be life-altering. Typically, dog bite injuries affect the extremities (arms, hands, legs, feet) as well as the head, neck and face. Infections which develop following a dog bite can become very serious, and many people are left with damage to nerves, bones, tissues and tendons which can significantly affect mobility. There is always the question of rabies—a potentially deadly virus—when a person is bitten by a dog. Further, the emotional and psychological trauma experienced after a dog bite can often be just as bad as the physical injuries.
Immediately after you are bitten by a dog, you may not be fully aware of the extent of your injuries, as the adrenaline rush you experienced during the dog attack could be masking symptoms of injury, or you could be in shock. It is imperative that you seek medical care, even if you believe you are not that badly injured. You will need to discuss issues with your doctor such as: whether your wounds will end up being disfiguring, whether infections are likely, whether the pain associated with the bites will subside, whether you will need stitches, whether the dog that bit you is up-do-date on rabies shots, and whether you may need further surgical procedure or physical therapy in order to try and get your life back to where it was prior to the dog bite. Make sure you follow your doctor’s orders carefully, including follow-up care as well as any tests or treatments recommended.
California Laws Regarding Dog Bites
California is considered a “strict liability” state in regards to dog bites. This means the owner of a dog who bites another person cannot evade liability for the attack by claiming he or she had no knowledge the dog could act aggressively. In other words, even if the dog has never bitten another person, the owner of the dog remains responsible for the damages the dog inflicted when it bit you. You must only demonstrate that at the time of the dog bite, you were either lawfully in a private place, or you were in a public place. Beyond this, you are not required to show the owner of the dog failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the dog from attacking, or that the owner was aware of the dog’s propensity to bite. You might, however, want to take these extra steps, simply to help prove your case. There is one exception which could apply in certain circumstances—the liability of the dog’s owner could potentially be reduced, if it is found you were deliberately harming or teasing the dog, causing the dog to bite you.
Each state has statutes of limitations—time limits in which to file a claim—for different types of personal injury claims, and in the state of California, this statute of limitations is two years. That means you have two years from the time you are bitten by a dog to bring a claim against the dog’s owner. If it has been longer than two years since the time of your bite, a California court will almost certainly throw the case out without hearing it. California’s dog bite law is found under the Civil Code, Section 3342. The statute states that the owner of any dog is liable for damages if the damages were caused when the dog bit another person so long as the person who was bitten was either lawfully in a private place, or in a public place. If the dog in question is carrying out police work or military work, there is an exception in the statute, and under California law, the injuries sustained must be from a dog bite, not some other type of behavior on the part of the dog (like jumping up on you and knocking you down).
How a Greenberg & Greenberg Attorney Can Help Following Your California Dog Bite
The attorneys at Greenberg & Greenberg have successfully handled dog bite claims for our clients for many years. We can either negotiate on your behalf with the dog owner’s insurance company, or we can engage in litigation in order to ensure you are properly compensated for your injuries. Our attorneys have a thorough knowledge of all California statutes pertaining to dog bites and will use this knowledge to your advantage. We will undertake an immediate investigation to ensure vital evidence is not lost or destroyed. This investigation will include taking photographs of your injuries and the scene where the dog bite occurred, as well as interviewing all potential witnesses.
In certain cases, a Worker’s Comp claim may be appropriate, particularly for mail carriers, delivery people or other employees required to come onto private property in order to complete their job. These workers have the implied consent of owners to enter the property, and when bitten by a dog, may be entitled to medical and wage replacement benefits. Whatever the circumstances surrounding your dog bite, the experienced dog bite lawyers of Greenberg & Greenberg can help you with your claim. We have the experience and the compassion to provide a better outcome in your case and will work aggressively to protect your rights. The experienced trial lawyers at Greenberg & Greenberg offer a free evaluation of your dog bite case—at this time we will explore your options and help you determine the right course of action. Our trial attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of the laws that govern these cases and will use our aggressive trial experience to help you fight for a fair verdict or settlement.