If your son or daughter was bitten by a dog, your family may be entitled to compensation for all resulting damages. There are, however, many ways for the dog owner and/or the insurance company to dispute your claim. For example, they might argue that your child instigated the attack or that the injuries are less severe than you’re claiming.
The easiest way to find out if your case has merit is to speak with a dog bite attorney. Fortunately, most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so you won’t have to pay anything to get your questions answered.
Below we’ve addressed some of the most frequently asked questions about these cases:
What Must I Prove to Win a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
There are certain elements that must be proven to recover damages in a dog bite claim. Those elements are:
- The defendant was responsible for handling or securing the dog;
- You were lawfully allowed to be where the attack occurred (i.e. you were not trespassing);
- The attack caused injury or death; and
- The value of damages incurred as a result of the attack.
Dog owners can be held strictly liable for injuries that their dogs cause. That means your attorney will not have to prove fault in order to hold the dog owner liable. If, however, a third-party such as a dog walker was in control of the animal at the time of the attack, a finding of fault may be needed to impose liability.
Some states have a “one-bite rule,” which protects dog owners from liability is some cases if their dog had not bitten anyone or displayed vicious tendencies in the past. California, however, does not have this rule. Even if the dog had never bitten anyone before, the dog owner may still be strictly liable for your child’s medical bills and other damages.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Pursue in a Dog Bite Claim?
In the state of California, dog bite victims have the right to seek compensation for:
Medical Expenses: A successful personal injury claim may provide funds for all resulting healthcare expenses including future medical bills the victim is reasonably certain to incur. Dog bite victims often require multiple procedures to prevent scarring and disfigurement. The cost of these surgeries can be included in the settlement calculations.
Lost Income: If you were hurt during the incident, too—perhaps you stepped between your child and the animal to stop the attack—you may be entitled to compensation for any lost wages.
Other Objectively Verifiable Losses: Personal injury claimants may pursue compensation for reasonable and necessary expenses that they incur as a direct result of the accident in which they were hurt. Examples include home care, child care, domestic help, alternative transportation, and home and/or vehicle modifications.
Non-Economic Damages: Dog bite victims may be entitled to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and emotional distress. Additionally, if they are married, their spouse may be able to pursue compensation for loss of consortium, which encompasses the loss of moral support, companionship, and intimacy.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
What you do immediately following a dog bite could have a major impact on your claim. It’s important to take certain steps—and avoid certain mistakes—to ensure your case has the best possible chance of success.
Below are a few tips to keep in mind:
Seek Medical Attention: Even if the wounds do not seem to require emergency medical attention, you should take your child to a doctor immediately following the attack. Prompt treatment may reduce the risk of infection and rabies, and getting documentation of the injuries will strengthen your claim.
Contact Animal Control: Call your local animal control office. The specific procedure for handling a dog bite varies based on county and circumstance, but a local officer may be sent to the owner’s home to remove the animal from the residence. The dog may then be quarantined and examined for signs of rabies and other diseases.
Be Cautious When Using Social Media: Although it’s important to document everything—by taking photographs of the wounds, for example, and obtaining statements from eyewitnesses—you should not post about the incident on social media. The opposing party might use your posts to dispute liability or the severity of your child’s injuries. It’s a good idea to disable your accounts until the conclusion of your case.
Call a Dog Bite Attorney: The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California is typically two years; however, there are many advantages to starting the proceedings as soon as possible. For example, time-sensitive evidence may still be available, and your attorney will have more time to build your case. If anyone saw the attack, their statements will be more reliable if your attorney can conduct the interview right away.
How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Case?
There’s no way to predict how your case might unfold until we’ve reviewed the facts and performed an investigation. There are many factors that could affect the duration of the proceedings. Examples include the strength of the available evidence, the opposing party’s willingness to cooperate, and whether you’ve provided any statements or made other mistakes that ultimately lead to a dispute. A seasoned dog bite lawyer can help you avoid critical errors and oversights that would delay the proceedings.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Claim with a Long Beach Dog Bite Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If your child was bitten by a dog, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks to determine the most strategic way to proceed. Our team is available 24/7 to take your call, and attorney Michael Waks will be readily accessible throughout the proceedings to answer your questions and provide updates on your case. Call (562) 206-1939 today or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a dog bite lawyer in Long Beach.
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