People who have never been attacked by a dog may consider a dog bite to be a relatively minor issue. However, victims of dog bites know better. Many dog bites result in serious personal injury for California residents. Even those that are minor can cause significant trauma and a lifetime of emotional distress. Bakersfield dog bite lawyer Mickey Fine knows how devastating animal attacks can be.
In the state of California, dog bites are a strict liability issue. This means that the homeowner can be responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering. It is important to speak to Mickey Fine if you or a loved one was bitten by a dog and seriously injured.
Why Dog Attacks Happen
In the United States, nearly four and a half million people are bitten by dogs each year. Out of four and a half million, one-fifth of them will end up needing medical attention to treat their injuries. Unfortunately, many of these victims end up being young children under the age of thirteen. Children are much more likely to be bitten by dogs due to their smaller size and awareness of how to properly act around dogs.
Believe it or not, many dog bites happen with familiar dogs. This is why it is so important to educate your loved ones about how to properly act around dogs to minimize the chance of being bitten. Any dog can bite and cause serious injuries and the reasons they bite often have to do with the following:
Dogs are naturally possessive animals. They can be protective over any number of things including:
- Their owners and families
Teach your children to avoid intervening with any of the above things when around dogs. Even though a dog may seem harmless at that time, a situation can change very quickly when it feels as if its “possessions” are threatened.
Dogs usually have a fear of the unknown. Whether it be the vet or the postman, the unknown can strike fear in the mind of the dog. It is important that you never approach an unfamiliar dog as bites can occur if it is startled or feels threatened. Teach your children to never approach dogs at a fence and to never approach a dog from behind, close to its face, or while it is sleeping.
The Dog is in Pain
Dogs that are having an issue that causes them pain are also a threat to bite. If a dog has an issue such as hip dysplasia or another chronic injury, be sure that you do not touch or mess with the aggravated areas on the dog’s body. A dog that is caused discomfort will often resort to biting to relieve the stress of the situation.
When dogs have puppies, maternal instincts can turn the most loving and friendly, to protective and dangerous. Respect a dog if she has just had puppies. Encourage children to be cautious around newborn puppies as their mother may consider them to be a threat.
A situation that some may not be aware of is dogs are sometimes triggered by running or cycling. This situation can often result in a chase. It is important always to be aware of your surroundings and if you ever happen to be in this situation, try to avoid crossing paths with a dog. If a dog begins to chase you:
- Stop, stand still, and face the dog.
- Do not look the dog in the eye as this can be seen as a challenge by the dog.
- If they come up and sniff you, they will most likely find you uninteresting and move on.
- If the dog knocks you down or lunges toward you, curl up and protect your face and neck and try to remain still.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Attack
Seek Medical Attention
Dog bites often cause a serious risk for infection to their victims. If you are even bitten by a dog, it is important that you seek medical attention right away and get treatment for your wounds. If the bite is serious enough, take no chances and call an ambulance right away.
Identify the Attacking Dog
It is important that you or someone you trust identifies the dog that bit you so that the owner of the dog can be notified of your situation. The owner is very important in your case because they are the responsible party. The owner’s home insurance will usually be the party responsible for paying for your injuries.
Report Your Attack
You should always report your dog bite attack to your local animal control agency or police department. You should provide information to them about the dog, including the owner of the dog’s name and home address. If the dog happened to be a stray or was otherwise unidentifiable, do your best to describe the dog’s appearance and the approximate location of where the attack occurred.
Take Photos of the Injuries You Sustain
As soon as you are able, take pictures of all of your visible wounds. Include all bruises, lacerations, and scrapes. We recommend that you also take photos of the clothes you were wearing during the attack just in case they have blood or dirt on them, which could help your case. If at all possible, try and get a photograph of the dog and where you were attacked.
Contact Bakersfield Dog Bite Lawyer Mickey Fine
After a dog bite, you may be suffering from severe pain, trauma, medical bills, and treatments. You may also face pressure from the at-fault owner’s insurance company for settlement offers. It is important that you try and act quickly because time is very important to your case. Your chances of a having a successful claim increase if you hire a skilled dog bite lawyer like Mickey Fine. Mickey Fine will act swiftly in your case because he knows that time is of the essence in your case. Preserving evidence, interviewing witnesses, and identifying the at-fault party are all things Mickey Fine will do for you.
What is California’s Dog Bite Law?
Dog owners in California are strictly liable for the injuries caused by their dog to another person. However, there are some defenses in which a dog owner can bring on their side.
Trespassing and Dog Bites
California’s strict liability law only applies in cases where a person is attacked in a public area or is in a private area lawfully. A defense that is commonly presented in dog bite claims is one in which the defendant claims that the plaintiff was trespassing on their property at the time of the attack. If this is the case, California’s strict liability law is off of the table.
An example of trespassing that is often overlooked happens to be:
A family with small children is lawfully present in the home of a dog owner. The dog owner told the family with small children that they cannot go into the backyard because of the dog being skittish of strange people. One of the children happens to get into the backyard without their parents noticing and is bitten by the dog. The court will often uphold the side of the dog owner due to the owner specifically stating not to go into the backyard.
What if My Injury Was Not a Bite?
California’s dog bite law states that an owner is only strictly liable if the injury caused by their dog was a bite. Further, the injury must be caused by a bite, but the skin of the victim does not have to be broken. For example, if the victim experiences bruising or nerve damage but there is no breakage of skin, the dog’s owner is still strictly liable under California law for the victim’s injuries.
Conversely, if the injuries were caused by the dog jumping on or knocking over the victim, the owner is not responsible under California’s strict liability law. However, the owner may be held responsible for negligence which we will discuss later on.
Assumption of Risk
The events leading up to a victim being bitten by a dog are also essential to a dog bite case in California. If the victim of a bite was kicking, teasing, or provoking the dog in any way, the owner is not held liable for injuries to the victim. In these cases, the owner can bring the defense that the victim was conducting themselves in such a way that they assumed the risk of their attack.
Children Under 5 Years Old
In California, children under the age of five are considered to be unable to commit negligent acts against dogs. The law in California believes that children of that age are not legally capable of taking reasonable care towards an animal.
Compensation in a Dog Bite Claim
The best way to determine what kind of compensation you are entitled to in a dog bite claim is through the guidance of personal injury lawyer, Mickey Fine. Mickey Fine is prepared to head a detailed investigation, determine liability in your case, and fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve.
What Compensation is Available in a Dog Bite Claim?
Mickey Fine will work diligently to acquire all the compensation that is available to you for your dog bite claim. The types of compensation that could be available to you in a dog bite claim include:
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Pain and Suffering
- Reduced earning capacity
- Loss of wage
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Assistive care
This list is by no means exhaustive, and there may be other damages that you are entitled to in your case. Hiring Mickey Fine is an essential step in your quest for fair compensation for your dog bite injuries. Call us today so we can discuss providing you legal counsel.
Strict Liability in Dog Bite Accidents
California is what’s known as a “strict liability” state when it comes to dealing with dog bites. What this means is that the owner of the dog which bites is responsible for the attack even if the dog has never bitten someone before. This law effectively eliminates the “one free bite” rule because liability in a dog bite case is based on ownership. In California, it is irrelevant as to whether or not the owner of the dog knew their dog could be vicious. In California, the victim of a dog bite only needs to prove that:
- The dog was, in fact, owned by the defendant.
- The bite occurred on public property or while the victim was lawfully on the owner’s private property.
- The injuries to the victim were caused by a dog bite.
Do I Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?
A dog attack can be an extremely traumatic experience. Dog bites can leave their victims with serious physical and mental injuries, especially when children are the victim. Dog bite cases are complex and require careful navigation to ensure compensation is awarded to the victim. This is why it is important to hire an experienced dog bite lawyer like Mickey Fine. Mickey Fine will work tirelessly to ensure that he:
- Uncovers crucial evidence
- Speaks to witnesses
- Establishes the owner of the dog
- Establish if there were any other responsible parties
- Report your bite and the dog to local animal control authorities
- Secure an incident report
- Secure your medical records
- Speak with insurance companies and establish your claim
You should not feel as of you have to go through this process alone. Contact Mickey Fine right away so he can fight for you while you concentrate on recovering.