Do I Need an Attorney if a Dog Bites Me?

Dogs are often called man's best friend, but they can also become man's worst enemy if they feel frightened or threatened. Some dogs may bite to defend themselves, their owners, or their territory. A dog bite is a severe injury that requires immediate medical attention. Over half of those attacked by dogs are children ages 5 to 9. Our experienced Los Angeles dog bite attorney is here to help if a dog has attacked you or a loved one.

If you or your child has been a victim of a dog bite in Los Angeles, seeking justice is not just a possibility but your legal right. Under strict California dog bite laws, pet owners are held accountable for bite injuries. An experienced dog bite attorney, well-versed in these laws, can navigate the legal process on your behalf, ensuring you secure the maximum compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. This could be the first step towards a brighter future.

Have a Dog Bite Injury – Get a Free Consultation

At Angeleno Accident Lawyers, we empathize with the financial concerns that can arise from legal fees. That's why our dog bite lawyers operate on a strict contingency fee basis. This means you can focus on your recovery without worrying about upfront legal fees. We only collect a fee if we win your case. If we don't win, you don't pay. Get a free consultation and learn more today.

If you have suffered a dog bite injury or would like to learn more about the services our award-winning attorneys provide, contact us to speak with one of our dog bite attorneys.

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Why Hire Angeleno Accident Lawyers to Handle Your Dog Bite Case?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S., and more than 800,000 seek medical attention. At least half of those bitten are children. Dog bites occur anywhere and at any time. Certain dangerous dog breeds, such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds, are more likely to bite, but even the cuddliest and cutest breeds can bite.

While most dog bites do not result in severe injury or death, they can cause immense trauma for dog bite injury victims. If you suffered a severe injury, a personal injury attorney can ensure you receive maximum compensation and settle your case more quickly.

With our extensive experience and proven track record, Angeleno Accident Lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and maintained a 99% success rate. Our attorneys are esteemed 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 attorney in Los Angeles, contact us to request your free consultation today.

How Can Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyers Help?

Dog bite cases in Los Angeles

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 Los Angeles dog bite lawyers can ensure you recover compensation and justice.

We will investigate the accident, identify the at-fault party and prove liability, file a personal injury claim, and negotiate with the insurance company. If you are unsatisfied with their settlement offer, we will take your case to trial. We will ensure 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 crucial step is to remain calm and get emergency medical treatment for your injuries. Dog bites can cause serious infections, bleeding, nerve damage, or other complications. Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital 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. Try to identify the dog that bit you and the pet owner. Obtain the owner's name, address, phone number, and insurance information. You should also get copies of the dog's rabies vaccination records. If you cannot find the owner, look for witnesses who saw the attack or 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, 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 damaged by the dog attack. Write down everything 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 an animal bite has injured you, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. An experienced dog bite lawyer can help you pursue a claim against the negligent owner of the dog. An experienced attorney 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. Most dog bites (61%) occur 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 owners to keep their dogs on a leash 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

Often, dogs bite as a reaction to something or if they feel scared or threatened. In other cases, dogs bite to protect themselves, their owner, or their 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 also be afraid of strangers and unfamiliar situations.
  • Protection: Certain dog breeds, like Dobermans, instinctively protect their home and their owner, which 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 correctly. 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 touching or handling. 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 her puppies are in danger or threatened. She may also be more aggressive towards other dogs or people near her litter.
  • Lack of training and socialization: A poorly trained dog may need to learn to behave appropriately 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 involve invading the dog's personal space, staring at it, making loud noises, or moving suddenly.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

A dog attack can become very serious because of a high infection risk. In the most severe cases, an animal bite may lead to rabies or tetanus infection. Dogs have powerful teeth and jaws that can tear through skin or muscles. They also have bacteria in their mouths 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
  • psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Amputation
  • Death

Besides the physical injury, dog bite victims, especially children, may be psychologically traumatized following the incident. They may fear 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?

Dog bite accidents

In most cases, the dog's owner is liable for any injuries. That person may be liable if someone else watched the dog, such as a family member or dog walker. If the dog owner is under 18, their 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 an attack if the victim was trespassing on their property. California's dog bite law only protects people lawfully on the property, such as mail carriers, emergency workers, or guests.

How Severe Is a Dog Bite? Does It Have to Be Severe Enough 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 claim must not include life-threatening physical injuries for it to be valid.

Physical injuries often mask severe mental trauma, which can include insomnia, changes in appetite or weight, mood changes, and depression. Dog attack victims usually suffer from long-term psychological damage, especially if the victims are children. The severity of these injuries cannot be underestimated.

If a dangerous dog harmed you, 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, its value will vary. California has one of the highest dog bite cases and settlement averages. 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:

Medical Bills

The average emergency room visit in the U.S. is $2,200. This cost, doctor visits, medication, and treatment can make your medical bills soar. A claim can include compensation for current and future medical bills.

Pain and Suffering 

Pain can be physical and emotional. Many California dog bite victims have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, a fear of leaving the house, or a fear of dogs following an animal 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.

Lost Wages

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 private property where the victim is lawfully visiting. The California law applies regardless of whether the dog exhibited previous aggressive behavior or if the owner knew the dog was aggressive. Per dog bite laws, the statute does not apply if the dog was provoked or the victim was trespassing or committing a crime. 

California's strict liability laws differ from the "one-bite rule," which states that dog owners are only responsible if their dogs are dangerous or if their owners are negligent.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites 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 when the bite occurred. If you fail to file your claim within this period, a judge will most likely dismiss your case. Some exceptions and extensions exist, such as when the dog bite victim is under 18, or the pet owner is out of state for some 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, proving the pet owner was negligent, knew the dog was dangerous, or bit someone before 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 identical. Settling your case can take a few months to a few years. 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 doubtful. 

With solid legal representation, you will have a much better chance of settling your case quickly. Our experienced dog bite lawyers will diligently ensure you receive your settlement immediately.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney Now

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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 takes a client-forward approach and only takes on cases we know we can win. We are committed to providing you with the best possible legal representation and obtain maximum compensation for your case.

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Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

You have nothing to lose when you call us. We are here for you 24/7 to answer your legal questions and help you start the claims process. Call our experienced dog bite lawyers to discuss your case in a free consultation, either by phone or in person. Let us help you get the justice you deserve.

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Angeleno Accident Lawyers

448 S. Hill St. Suite 1217
Los Angeles, CA 90013

(213) 510-9246