Dogs may be man’s best friends, but in some cases, these animals attack people and they can inflict serious injuries on the humans. Although in most cases dog bite injuries can be attributed to the owner of the animal, the liability in these cases needs to be determined in order to satisfy any claims for damages suffered by the attacked individual.
Our Los Angeles dog bite lawyers can help you if you have been attacked by a dog in California and want to obtain legal compensations for your injuries.
Law for dog bites in California, presented by our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer
Dog bite injuries in Los Angeles fall under the category of Article 2 of the California Civil Code, Section 3342. According to law, the owner of a dog is liable for any damages suffered by an individual who is bitten by his or her animal in a public place and/or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog. Whether or not the owner was aware of the dogs’ aggressiveness is not important.
The same law does not allow for any legal actions against a dog that serves in any governmental agency, like military or police dogs if the bite occurred while the dog was defending itself from any provoked act and while it was assisting an employee of the agency who was exercising his or her duties. This applies if the governmental agency using a dog for police matters has a written policy on the necessity to use the dog for a certain type of work. This can include police activities like the investigation of a crime, the execution of a warrant or the defense of the policeman.
The law on governmental agencies using work dogs does not apply if the individual bitten by a police or military dog was not a suspect in the acts that justify the use of a dog in police or military activity.
The law has a different application in the case of children under the age of 5 because it is not a legal assumption that a child this young could provoke a dog to attack. Also, the provocation does not apply to a child who was acting as per his parents instructed him to do. Our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can give you in-depth information about special rules in case the victim is a child.
You can find out more about this issue from the presentation prepared by our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer:
Strict liability, explained by our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer
The owner’s liability for dog bite cases is called strict liability, meaning that the owner is fully responsible for the damages caused by the dog. According to the California Civil Code, it is not a question of where the dog bite accident took place. The owner is liable for the damages suffered by the person who is bitten even if he was on his own private property when the accident took place. Likewise, the owner is liable even if he or she was unaware of the dog’s viciousness.
In order to build a solid case for dog bite accidents, our Los Angeles dog bite lawyers will need to assess who is the true owner of the dog, the type of bite and the extent of the injuries caused. In order to be able to determine that the person handling the dog was responsible for the accident, our lawyers in L.A. will need to prove that it was a negligence case.
The only case in which the owner of the dog cannot be held liable for a dog bite injury is if the dog is part of a military or police service and the bite took place while the dog was defending itself or while working with the military or police agent and acting in the investigation of a crime and/or defending the officer or another person.
The dog bite law also provides for special considerations when the victim is a child. The owner of the dog that attacked the child cannot, in this case, make his case based on provocation. This would imply that the child was negligent in his conduct towards the animal and a child cannot be legally regarded as negligent if he is under the age of five. If the minor was acting according to his parent’s instructions, then he is incapable of being found guilty.
Certain cities in California can enact their own strict liability law for dog bite cases. It is useful to request the help of a Los Angeles dog bite lawyers who can give you detailed information if the accident took place in Los Angles, Beverly Hills or other cities.
Compensations for dog bite injuries
The maximum amount of time a victim has to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog that provoked personal injuries is two years. This is called statute of limitations. Our Los Angeles dog bite lawyers can help you build a case using the legal provisions for the owner’s liability or proving that the attack was a case of negligence on the part of the owner.
Although each case is different, according to law, you can request compensations for the following damages in case of a dog bite attack:
-lost wages caused by lost time off work during the recovery period;
-property damage, if applicable;
-future medical expenses, including cosmetic surgery, if needed.
The statute of limitations for dog bite injuries in California
California has a statute of limitations for dog bite injuries and all other types of personal injury claims. The case can be brought to court within two years after the injuries took place. If the dog bite case is brought to court later, then the court may not even hear the case.
Victims should keep in mind that the dog bite rule in California does not apply for police or military dogs that were engaged in specific duties at the time the bite took place.
The emotional impact of a dog bite injury
The emotional implications of dog bite injuries are also important and can be taken into consideration when forming the claim. Although they are harder to quantify, the victim can claim damages for the long-lasting trauma, especially if the attack was a violent one. Severe mental anguish is inflicted in an animal attack and an injury caused by a dog is no exception. While the defendant may argue that this is not the case, the help of our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer is essential for showing that the victim is likely to relive the experience in a traumatic manner and this has a clear impact on one’s quality of life.
The extent of the physical injuries will be used as evidence to show that the attack did have an emotional impact, especially if the scars are very visible or the victim has suffered mutilations after having been bitten by an aggressive dog. In cases like these, our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can argue that the victim’s life is permanently altered as a result of having to live with the scars, especially if they are on one’s face or, worse, if the victim has lost mobility (such as a severed finger, perhaps, or another form of injury that permanently modifies one’s anatomy).
Like many other stressful events, a dog attack can cause post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer will make sure to discuss with the victim, and enlist the services of an expert such as a psychologist in order to evaluate the level of trauma and be able to submit proper, documented evidence when making the claim. This is even more important in children who, of attacked at an early age, may develop PTSD and, if left untreated, this may very well impact their psychological development. Victims can claim monetary compensation for the treatment associated with having to care for specialty treatment, such as therapy sessions, after an unfortunate animal attack. These costs are typically included in the future medical costs when making the claim and they can be estimated based on therapy fees in the area where the victim lives. Our team of lawyers can help you include these costs in the general ones when estimative the value of the settlement.
Some of the PTSD symptoms that can appear after a dog attack include the following:
Reliving the event: this is also referred to as re-experiencing the symptoms; the victim tries to rationalize the event and this can cause nightmares, disturbing’s one sleep and affecting his quality of life;
Avoiding situations: after a dog attack, victims may try to avoid any sort of interaction with a canine, be small or large;
Experiencing negative beliefs: it is not uncommon for the victim’s mood to change and for him to lose interest in previously enjoyable activities; left untreated, the negative thoughts and moods can worsen and lead to clinical depression;
Extra arousal: the victim may experience a high level of physical tension, be overly alert all the time, in an attempt to be on guard and to prevent another attack; following a dog bite case, this can take place whenever the victim leaves the house and it can, understandably, have a negative impact on his quality of life.
Dog bites can be traumatic events that vary in severity according to the wounds, the victim’s age, and physical condition. Getting specialized legal aid from our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can be very helpful.
Dog bite victims
According to DogBite.org, a public education website, dog bite accidents can be fatal in America:
between 2005 and 2019, 521 Americans were killed in dog bite attacks;
as far as the breed of the dog is concerned, the most dangerous are pit bulls, which contributed to 66% of the fatal attacks during the aforementioned period (346 of the deaths);
pit bull and rottweiler attacks combined contributed to 76% of the recorded deaths;
in 2019, there were 48 dog bite fatalities in the U.S. and pit bulls were the breed to contribute to 69% (or 33) of the total number of deaths; as a breed, these dogs are not the most popular in the United States as they make up roughly 8% of the total population.
It is important to note that not all dog bite victims die immediately after the accident. In some cases, the extent of the injuries can cause severe brain damage (when main arteries are bitten through) and the victim dies after a certain hospitalization period.
Understandably, not dogs are dangerous, even if they are a breed that is known for its aggressiveness. Following up on the exact circumstances of the case is important and our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can provide adequate assistance to victims.
Marc Y. Lazo is specialized in personal injury cases as well as in complex business and commercial litigation. He has tried numerous cases to successful verdict and has obtained multiple six-figure judgments in both state and federal court.