Irvine Dog Bite Lawyer Helping Victims Recover Fair Compensation
While dogs have a reputation for being warm, fuzzy, cuddly companions, they still retain wild instincts and can lash out and harm people unexpectedly under certain circumstances. In fact, millions of Americans are injured by dog bites yearly. Many victims do not get the full compensation they deserve because they are uncertain about who to file a claim with or lack the evidence needed for a strong case. Dog bite lawyers help injured individuals by collecting evidence, identifying the liable parties, and filing claims or lawsuits as necessary.
Hejazi Law Group provides a free consultation to dog bite injury victims, so there is no risk to exploring your legal rights. Call today to schedule your appointment: (949) 749-7402.
What Does California Law Say Regarding Dog Bites?
At one time, California applied common law liability to dog bites. Under these laws, the victim had to prove that the dog in question had a history of injuring people and that the dog’s owner knew about this violent history. This was referred to as the “one free bite” rule because it was tough to recover damages in cases where it was the dog’s first recorded instance of a bite.
However, the rules in California have been changed regarding dog attacks. A California dog owner can now be held strictly liable when their dog harms someone else. This means they are responsible for their dog’s actions, regardless of whether they realized their animal had the potential to hurt someone or if they took all reasonable precautions to prevent the incident.
There are some limited cases where the owner may not be strictly liable. Some examples of these situations include:
- The victim was trespassing at the time of the injury.
- The victim was actively taunting or harassing the dog when the bite occurred.
- The victim was performing a paid service when bitten.
Because it can sometimes be challenging to establish what was happening at the time of the bite, it is essential for a victim to enlist the help of a skilled dog bite lawyer so the insurance carriers does not try to blame them for the attack.
Does Homeowners Insurance Coverage Extend to Dog Bites?
If a dog bite has seriously injured you, you can file a claim against the homeowner’s insurance of the dog’s owner to cover your medical expenses up to their coverage limits. This applies even when the incident happens at a location other than their home, such as a dog park or beach. Their coverage may sometimes not be enough to fully pay for your medical care if your injuries are severe.
Still, filing a homeowner’s insurance claim is typically the first step for most dog bite victims seeking compensation for their damages. If the pet owner lives in an apartment, their rental insurance carriers may or may not include dog bite injuries, depending on their coverage.
If the damages exceed the dog owner’s coverage limits, the owner could be held personally liable for those expenses through a claim in civil court. A knowledgeable dog bite lawyer can investigate the dog owner’s insurance plan to determine whether you can make a claim.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite?
There are many instances where a dog bite occurs when the dog is not in the care of its owner. In these situations, other individuals may be responsible for the dog’s behavior and could become defendants in dog bite cases. Examples of other individuals or entities that may be held liable include:
- Dog-sitters, dog walkers, and family or friends caring for pets
- The dog owner’s landlord, if they knew that there was a dangerous dog on their property and had the power to remove it but did not
- Daycare owners
- Commercial property owners
However, these cases can rapidly become complex because the liability rules may change when someone other than the dog’s owner was in charge of the animal. Skilled dog bite lawyers understand the subtleties of the law and can advise you on the right course of action for your situation to seek compensation.
What Should You Do If You or Loved One Have Been Injured in a Dog Bite Attack?
Dog bites can happen in a split second and are often a shock to everyone involved. Your priority should be getting medical care for yourself and anyone else who has been injured. However, if you or a trusted individual can take these further steps, it can be very beneficial to your case and your treatment:
- Ask whether the dog is up to date on vaccinations: Learning whether the dog is fully vaccinated, especially for rabies, can improve the care your doctors provide and save you from unnecessarily undergoing painful and expensive treatments.
- Collect information: Get the owner’s full name, address, phone number, and homeowner’s insurance information, if possible. Also, collect contact information from any witnesses.
- Take pictures: Record images of the dog, the area where the attack happened, and your injuries to provide proof of the incident.
- File a report: Depending on the severity of the bite and the jurisdiction, you can file an incident report with the police or the local animal control division.
- Ask about the dog’s history: While it isn’t necessary under California law to prove that the dog has a history of harming individuals for the owner to be liable, it is still important to find out whether the dog has injured anyone before.
- Contact an experienced dog bite attorney: Hejazi Law Group can step in and begin investigating your case and filing necessary claims so that you can focus on your healing.
Should You Seek Medical Care After a Minor Dog Bite?
There is rarely such a thing as a minor dog bite, and it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention after any altercation with a dog. Dogs’ mouths can harbor harmful bacteria, which can easily enter the body through any break in the skin. One in every five dog bite wounds is estimated to result in infection.
This statistic is even more disturbing when you consider that young children are among the most likely groups to experience a dog bite injury because they are less aware of the dangers of approaching animals.
Rabies and other dangerous diseases are also a concern when dealing with a dog bite. Although it is relatively rare for humans to contract rabies, it can be deadly for those who do. Most doctors will order painful rabies shots if you have proof that the dog that attacked you was vaccinated.
As part of your treatment plan, take all medications prescribed to you by your doctor and follow their recommendations. Keep copies of all your medical records as evidence for your dog bite claim.
What Damages Can Be Recovered by Dog Bite Victims?
Suffering a dog bite can physically, economically, and emotionally harm the injured person and their loved ones. Many victims have psychological trauma after the attack and may develop a fear of animals or anxiety about visiting places similar to where the attack occurred.
If you are reeling from the aftermath of a dog bite, you need a personal injury attorney who will take the time to thoroughly understand your situation so they can calculate a proper valuation for your losses. The financial compensation that dog bite lawyers may recover for victims can be split into two main categories:
- Economic damages: These damages compensate for financial losses caused by your dog bite injury. It may include the cost of current and ongoing medical treatment, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and more.
- Non-economic damages: Many people who experience dog bite injuries will suffer losses that are not monetary in nature. These losses can severely impact their quality of life and may include mental distress, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and scarring or disfigurement.
Why Hire an Irvine Dog Bite Lawyer?
Dogs are often considered friendly, loyal pets, so being attacked by a dog can come as a shock. The dog’s owners are often distraught or defensive after the incident, which makes collecting important information from them challenging.
If the situation is too confrontational or you need to leave to get immediate medical treatment, a lawyer with experience in personal injury cases can step in and collect the information and evidence you need for your claim.
You have the legal right to recover compensation for your medical bills and other losses related to your dog bite injury. An experienced California dog bite attorney from Hejazi Law Group can handle the case on your behalf and negotiate a settlement with the owner’s home or rental insurance company so that you can focus on healing without any added stress.
If a dog has harmed you or a loved one, contact our law firm’s Irvine dog bite attorney today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal options: (949) 749-7402.