Even the most gentle, tiniest dog, no matter the breed, can bite if scared, overexcited, or injured. In the United States, injuries from a dog bite account for 85 to 90 percent of animal bites, and 1 percent of visits to the emergency room.
California is a strict liability state, this means that as long as a dog bite occurred in a public place or lawfully on private property — including the dog owner’s property — the dog owner will be held liable for any injuries. Dog bites may require the victim to seek medical attention, depending on the severity of their injury. Even in minor cases, dog bites and scratches can result in complications given they can carry diseases.
In most instances, dog owners are liable for any personal injury or property damage their pets cause. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 4.7 million people get bitten by dogs each year, thus resulting in nearly 800,000 injuries that need to be checked out by a doctor.
According to California Civil Code Section 3342, a dog owner will be held liable for damages when:
However, this statute does not apply to any victims who suffered a dog bite while a dog was engaged in police or military work. Also, it is necessary for an injury to be caused by a dog bite, and not by another behavior on the dog’s part.
Dog bite accidents can be traumatic experiences, and the injuries caused by aggressive dogs can be quite serious and sometimes fatal. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that if you want to be compensated for your losses, the victim must act fast. You should aim to file a dog bite lawsuit after your injuries have been diagnosed and treated, but before the statute of limitations expires.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our qualified dog bite attorneys are readily available to offer legal assistance to victims of personal injury. We will help strengthen your claim and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you are given the compensation you deserve.
Statute of Limitations
A dog bite claim falls under personal injury. Basically, the owner of the dog has committed wrongful acts or negligence, which allowed the animal to attack without any provocation. And like all other types of personal injury cases, there’s a set statute of limitations.
Per the California Civil Code 335.1, the statute of limitation on a dog bite accident case is two years starting from the initial date of when the incident took place. After the two-year deadline, the court will almost certainly throw out the case.
However, if the individual was a minor during the time of the attack, the statute of limitations will be postponed until they are 18 years old. Once the individual turns 18, the statute of limitations will start, giving them up to two years to file a dog bite lawsuit.
California courts are very strict on the statute of limitations. It exists to make victims file their lawsuits while evidence is still fresh, and also allows potential defendants to respond after a certain period of time has passed.
Reaching out to a lawyer in the days or weeks before the statute of limitations expires will make it nearly impossible to file a strong lawsuit since you will need a substantial amount of time to construct such a claim. Starting this at the last minute will most likely result in the victim receiving little to no compensation.
Dog bite victims in California are typically entitled to compensation for their losses. Compensatory damages may include:
Further, the surviving family members of anyone who was killed by a dog may be entitled to damages on the decedent’s behalf. Such a claim would be filed as a wrongful death case and would possibly entitle survivors to additional damages.
Though rarely awarded, an aggrieved individual may be able to recover punitive damages in certain cases. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant who has engaged in particularly egregious behavior. And in order for a dog bite victim to recover punitive damages, they must prove with clear and convincing evidence that the dog owner’s actions were fraudulent or malicious in nature.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of a dog bite, our Los Angeles dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.