If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite attack, our San Diego dog bite lawyers can help you bring a liability claim against the owner. Such a claim can help you seek compensatory damages and meet the financial, emotional, and physical fallout from the incident.
When filing a dog bite injury claim, it is important to understand the local laws that apply. You also need to be informed about various damages you can seek in such an attack. Here is a look at this information, which will help you in successfully filing a compensation claim.
California Dog Bite Statistics
In 2018, 27,000 people across the United States had to undergo reconstructive surgery following a dog bite attack. According to the statistics shared by State Farm, California remains the top state in terms of the number of dog-related injury claims and the amount of compensation paid for such claims. In 2017 alone, State Farm settled 468 such claims and paid nearly $18.7 million in damages to the victims. The actual number of injuries is expected to be greater, as not all injury claims reach a successful settlement.
California Dog Bite Laws
California has a number of laws in place that apply to dog bite cases and claims. It is important to know and observe these laws when filing for compensation, as failure to do may cause your claim to be rejected.
Statute of Limitations: California has a statute of limitations of two years for dog bite cases. This means that you have two years from the date of the bite-related injury to file for compensatory damages. If the two-year period expires and you file your claim afterward, your chances of recovering any compensation are nearly non-existent. However, the statute may be relaxed in some rare cases. You should consult San Diego dog bite lawyers to see if this relaxation applies to your claim.
Owner’s Liability: The law holds that if you suffer a dog bite, the owner of the dog is responsible for any damages caused by the bite. However, this applies only when your bite is caused by a dog at a public place or at a private property where you are lawfully present. Lawful presence means that you are at private property to perform the duties of the state or a state institution. It also applies when you have the implicit or explicit invitation of the owner.
Exceptions to Dog Bite Liability
A number of exceptions apply to the owner’s liability in dog bite cases in California. So if you suffer a dog bite in San Diego, you need to consider these exceptions. You can’t file a liability claim against the owner if at the time of the dog bite you were:
- Trespassing on private property without explicit or implicit invitation
- Provoking or annoying the dog deliberately
- Performing dog training, grooming, or another paid service for the dog
- Physically assaulting the dog’s owner
A number of other exceptions apply in cases where dogs doing military or police work are involved. In such cases, you can’t seek compensatory damages if:
- The dog was being used in apprehending or holding a suspect where a governmental agency employee has reasonable suspicion that the suspect is criminally involved
- The dog was accompanying a governmental agency employee in the execution of a warrant
- The dog bite occurred in defense of a person
- The dog bite occurred during the investigation of a crime
Given these exceptions, a dog bite claim can be a fiercely contested legal affair. This is simply because the owner of the dog can claim that any of the exceptions above apply, even when they don’t. This is precisely why you will need the help of good San Diego dog bite lawyers in order to file and win a dog bite claim.
Damages Recoverable in Dog Bite Claims
A dog bite can result in serious trauma and injuries. This is particularly true when the victim is a child. Treatment and recovery may require surgeries, infection treatments, PTSD counseling, physical therapy, and a lot more. This is where compensatory damages from the liable party can go a long way towards helping you meet the costs of the injury.
Here are some of the losses you can mention in a dog bite damages claim:
- Medical costs. These include both present and future costs, including the costs of any plastic surgeries, skin grafts, physician check-ups, medications, and more
- Physical therapy
- Emotional trauma therapy including counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder
- Permanent injury or disability where the harm caused by a dog bite is expected to affect you for the rest of your life
- Lost wages when a dog bite prevents you from making a living the way you did before the dog attack. You can also seek damages in lieu of lost earning potential if your inability to earn the way you did is permanent.
- Punitive damages. These damages are recoverable when you demonstrate that the intentional or malicious intent of an owner caused the dog bite.
How Can San Diego Bite Lawyers Help You?
If you have experienced a dog bite due to the intentional or unintentional negligence of the dog’s owner, it is important that you file for damages without losing any time. You will need to prove that you were not harassing the dog or trespassing. You must also meet various other legal requirements in order to win fair compensation.
Here at TorkLaw, we understand that a dog bite injury can be a harrowing experience. This is why we aim to take away the legal hassles and complications of filing a dog bite claim. With the help of our expert attorneys, you can file a claim in the briefest time and improve your chances of getting a fair settlement. We also seek to maximize the number of damages you receive to cover your losses. Get in touch with us today to discuss your claim with our dog bite attorneys.