Do I Need an Attorney if a Dog Bites Me?
Dogs are often called man's best friend, but they can also turn into man's worst enemy if they feel frightened or threatened. Some dogs may bite as a way of defending themselves, their owners, or their territory. A dog bite is a serious injury that requires immediate medical attention. Over half of those who are injured from a dog bite are children ages 5 to 9. If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, our experienced Los Angeles dog bite attorney is here to help.
If you or your child was bitten by a dog in Los Angeles, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. California law stipulates that pet owners are responsible for dog bite injuries under strict liability laws. Our Los Angeles dog bite attorney can help you seek justice and compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.
Angeleno Accident Lawyers is one of L.A.’s top personal injury law firms representing dog bite victims and other personal injury accidents. Contact our California dog bite lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.
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Why Hire Angeleno Accident Lawyers to Handle Your Dog Bite Case?
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S., and more than 800,000 seek medical attention, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). At least half of those bitten are children. A dog bite accident can happen anywhere and at any time. Certain dangerous dog breeds like Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds are more likely to bite, but even the cuddliest and cutest breeds can bite.
While most cases do not result in serious injury or death, they can cause immense trauma for victims. If you suffered a serious injury, our California dog bite attorney can ensure you receive maximum compensation and settle your case more quickly.
Angeleno Accident Lawyers has recovered millions of dollars in settlements and maintains a 99% success rate. Our Los Angeles lawyers are members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. We pride ourselves on providing friendly and accessible legal representation to all clients in need.
If you need a reliable and reputable dog bite lawyer in Los Angeles, contact our law firm to request your free consultation today.
How Can Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyers Help?
Every year, 20,000 people are bitten by dogs in Los Angeles County. While this number represents a fraction of the 4.5 million dog bites recorded in the U.S., the city of Los Angeles statistically sees one of the highest rates of dog attack injuries of all U.S. cities. If you, your child, or someone you know suffered serious injuries in a dog attack, our dog bite lawyers in Los Angeles can ensure you receive financial compensation and justice.
Our law firm will investigate the accident, identify the at-fault party and prove liability, file a personal injury claim, and negotiate with the insurance company. If we are not satisfied with their settlement offer, we will take your case to trial. We will make sure you receive proper medical treatment for your dog bite injury. Rest and recover while our Los Angeles dog bite lawyer handles all the elements of your claim.
What to Do After a Dog Bite Attack in Los Angeles
- Seek immediate medical attention. The first and most important step is to get medical treatment for your injuries. Dog bites can cause serious infections, bleeding, nerve damage, or other complications. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Follow the doctor's instructions and keep all the records of your treatment and expenses.
- Identify the dog and the owner. If possible, try to identify the dog that bit you and the pet owner. Obtain the name, address, phone number, and insurance information of the owner. You should also get copies of the dog’s rabies vaccination records. If you cannot find the owner, look for any witnesses who saw the attack or any clues that may indicate where the dog came from, such as a collar, tag, or leash.
- Report the incident. Report the dog attack to the Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control or the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health as soon as possible. An officer will create a bite report and contact the other party to assess the situation and quarantine the dog. Then animal control will notify Public Health.
- Document the evidence. Take detailed photos or videos of your injuries, the scene of the attack, and the dog if possible. You should also keep any clothing or items that were damaged by the dog attack. Write down everything that you remember about the attack, such as how it happened, what you heard or saw, and how you felt. Keep a journal of your recovery process, which will help you when you file a claim.
- Contact a dog bite lawyer. If you have been injured by an animal bite, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. A qualified and experienced dog bite lawyer can help you pursue a dog bite claim against the negligent owner of the dog. A lawyer can also help you gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in court if necessary. Your chances of obtaining maximum compensation are much higher with a lawyer.
Places Where Dog Attacks Can Occur
Dog attacks can happen anywhere, including private property, dog parks, public parks and playgrounds, beaches, and postal routes. A majority of dog bites (61%) happen at home or in a familiar place. Dog attacks often injure children and mail carriers who enter the property.
Los Angeles has a leash law that requires dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash when they are in public places, such as sidewalks, parks, or beaches. However, some owners may violate this law and let their dogs roam free, which can pose a risk to other people and animals. Unleashed dogs may be more likely to bite if they feel threatened, territorial, or playful.
Common Causes of Dog Bites
Oftentimes, a dog will bite as a reaction to something, or if the dog feels scared or threatened. In other cases, a dog will bite to protect itself, its owner, or its territory.
Some of the most common causes of dog bites in Los Angeles are:
- Fear: Many dogs that bite are fearful. When approached, they will either bite or run away – this is the “fight or flight” response. Dogs can be fearful of strangers and in unfamiliar situations.
- Protection: Certain dog breeds like Dobermans will instinctively protect their home and their owner. This is why there are guard dogs. Dogs can also be possessive of their food, toys, and bed.
- Play: Some dogs may bite during play, especially if they are not trained well or socialized properly. They may not know how to control their bite force or when to stop. Children are more likely to be bitten by dogs during play, as they may not understand the dog's comfort level.
- Pain and sickness: A dog may bite if it is in pain or suffering from an illness or injury. The dog may be more irritable and less tolerant of being touched or handled. A dog may also bite if it has a neurological disorder or a rabies infection that affects its behavior.
- Maternal instincts: A female dog may bite if she feels that her puppies are in danger or being threatened. She may also be more aggressive towards other dogs or people who come near her litter.
- Lack of training and socialization: A poorly trained dog may not know how to behave properly around other animals or people. It may not obey commands, respect boundaries, or follow rules. The dog may also develop bad habits such as jumping, barking, chasing, or biting.
- Provocation: A dog may bite if it is provoked by someone or something. This could include teasing, taunting, hitting, kicking, pulling, poking, or grabbing the dog. It could also include invading the dog's personal space, staring at it, making loud noises, or moving suddenly.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
A dog attack can turn very serious because there is a high risk of infection. In the most severe cases, an animal bite may lead to rabies or tetanus infection. A dog’s teeth and jaws are very powerful and can tear through skin or muscles. They also have bacteria in their mouth that can cause complications. Some of the most common types of dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Eye or face injuries
- Broken bones
- Head or neck injuries
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Infections, including rabies
- Nerve damage
- Emotional trauma, including post traumatic stress disorder
Besides the physical injury, dog bite victims, especially children, may be psychologically traumatized following the incident. They may be afraid of going outside or develop cynophobia (an overwhelming fear of dogs). An experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can investigate your case while you focus on your recovery.
Who Is Liable for Your Dog Bite Injuries?
In most cases, the owner of the dog is liable for any injuries. If someone else was watching the dog, such as a family member or dog walker, that person may be held liable. If the dog owner is under 18 years of age, his or her parents will be liable.
Most insurance companies will insure homeowners or renters with dogs. That means a dog bite victim can file a claim with the pet owner’s homeowners or renters insurance. However, homeowners insurance companies will always try to find a way to minimize injuries or deny responsibility. An experienced dog bite attorney can help you navigate the legal process and negotiate with the insurance company.
Exceptions to the rule: Working dogs and trespassing
Police or military dogs are generally exempt from strict liability if their dogs bite someone while carrying out duties for law enforcement or the military.
A dog owner is not liable for a dog bite if the victim was trespassing on their property. California's dog bite law only protects people who are lawfully on the property, such as mail carriers, emergency workers, or invited guests.
How Severe Does a Dog Bite Have to Be to Have a Case?
Even a minor dog bite can cause physical and emotional trauma. It is not uncommon to hear about someone with a debilitating fear of dogs because of a previous attack. A dog bite claim does not have to include life-threatening physical injuries for it to be valid.
Physical injuries often mask serious mental trauma, which can include insomnia, changes in appetite or weight, mood changes, and depression. Dog attack victims often suffer from long-term psychological damage, especially if the victims are children. The severity of these injuries cannot be underestimated.
If you were harmed by a dangerous dog, speak with our Los Angeles dog bite attorneys. We will help you hold the negligent dog owner accountable and secure maximum compensation for your losses.
How Much Is a Dog Bite Case Worth?
Since every dog bite case is different, the value of each case will vary. California has one of the highest number of dog bite cases and the highest average settlement for a dog bite case. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average insurance payout for a dog bite claim in 2022 was $64,555. However, this amount could be lower or higher depending on the severity of the injury and liability.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
Compensation will depend upon the pet owner’s homeowners or renters insurance, liability, the seriousness of the dog attack, and the victim’s financial losses. Dog bite victims may be able to recover the following compensation in a dog bite lawsuit:
The average emergency room visit in the U.S. is $2,200. This cost, along with doctors visits, medication, and treatment can make your medical bills soar. A dog bite claim can include compensation for current and future medical expenses.
Pain and Suffering
Pain can be physical and emotional. Many California dog bite victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, a fear of leaving the house, or a fear of dogs following a dog attack. Your dog bite injury claim can include compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress you have suffered as a result of the bite.
If you missed work due to the dog attack, you may be able to receive compensation for your lost income or future lost earnings.
California Dog Bite Laws
Under California Civil Code §3342, dog owners are responsible for all dog bites in public places or on private property where the victim is lawfully visiting. The law applies regardless of whether the dog exhibited previous aggressive behavior or if the owner knew their dog was aggressive. The statute does not apply if the dog was provoked, or if the victim was trespassing or committing a crime.
California’s strict liability laws are different from “one bite” laws, which state that dog owners are only responsible if the dog was dangerous or if the owner was negligent.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite Injury in California?
In California, dog attacks fall under personal injury, so they follow the same statute of limitations as personal injury claims. The deadline for filing a dog bite injury claim is two years from the day the bite occurred. If you fail to file your claim within this time period, a judge will most likely dismiss your case. There are some exceptions and extensions, such as when the dog bite victim is under the age of 18 or the pet owner is out of state for a period of time. Speak with a Los Angeles dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to initiate the claims process.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Dog Bite Claim?
Since California follows a strict liability law for dog bites, you do not need to prove negligence in a dog bite claim. You only need to show that a dog bite caused your injury. However, if you can prove the pet owner was negligent or knew the dog was dangerous or bit someone before, it can help your case.
You may also be able to file a negligence claim if the dog did not bite you, but caused another injury. For example, if a dog jumped up and scratched a child in the face, you may be able to hold the pet owner liable for negligent behavior.
How Long Does a Dog Bite Case Take to Settle?
There is no average time frame to settle a dog bite case, because no two dog bite claims are the same. It can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years to settle your case. However, do not be discouraged by this. Most insurance companies prefer to settle outside of court, meaning the chances of a lengthy court trial are very unlikely.
With strong legal representation, you will have a much better chance at settling your case quickly. Our experienced dog bite lawyers will work diligently to ensure you receive your settlement as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney Now
A dog bite attack can leave physical and emotional pain for years to come. At Angeleno Accident Lawyers, we will hold the dog owner accountable for the injury and secure your future with the compensation you need to move forward.
Our firm has a client forward approach, and we only take on cases we know we can win. We are committed to providing you with the best possible legal representation and outcome for your case.
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You have nothing to lose when you call our personal injury law firm. We are here for you 24/7 to answer your legal questions and help you start the claims process. Call our experienced dog bite attorneys to discuss your case in a free consultation, either by phone or in person. Let us help you get the justice you deserve.