Every state has different laws pertaining to dog bite claims. Some states uphold “one bite” laws that give dog owners one chance to avoid liability for injuries their pets cause to others. After one bite, the dog is legally considered dangerous, and the owner must follow strict rules for handling the dog thereafter. If the dog attacks anyone else, the owner will face harsh penalties and civil liability for the victim’s damages.
California does not enforce any one bite rules and instead imposes strict liability upon dog owners whose pets injure others. If a dog harms a person in California, the dog owner is almost always strictly liable for the incident. There are only two prerequisites for the strict liability rule to apply:
- The victim must not have provoked the dog to attack in any way, such as striking the dog, assaulting the dog’s owner, or otherwise presenting an obvious threat. Dogs will defend themselves from perceived aggression.
- The victim must have been legally present at the location where the dog attack occurred. This may include public property, such as a sidewalk or park, or private property they are visiting with the owner’s permission.
Dog owners facing liability for bites and other injuries their pets inflict commonly assert that the victim somehow provoked the dog, which is often very difficult to prove. If another person’s dog injured you or a loved one and you know your situation satisfies the aforementioned two prerequisites to establish strict liability, you should consult a Costa Mesa dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Dogs are capable of inflicting severe injuries on people. When most people imagine dog attacks, the first type of injury that likely comes to mind is a bite. Many dog breeds have powerful jaws and are easily capable of causing traumatic bite wounds to people. Some dogs will bite and thrash, tearing open skin and severely damaging soft tissues. However, dogs are capable of inflicting other wounds as well.
If a large dog attacks someone, it could knock the victim to the ground. This could potentially result in a severe head injury, broken bones, and internal organ injuries. In addition, dog attacks commonly result in multiple injuries, some of which will require extensive medical treatment.
Damages and Compensation for Dog Bite Claims
A dog bite claim falls within the scope of personal injury law. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a dog attack, you have the right to file a civil claim against the dog owner and seek compensation for your damages. A Costa Mesa dog bite attorney can help you calculate the damages you can include in the claim, such as:
- Medical expenses. Dog attacks can result in traumatic injuries requiring immediate emergency treatment and ongoing rehabilitative care in many cases. Therefore, the defendant is responsible for all medical treatment costs the victim incurs in a dog attack.
- Lost income. When dog attacks result in severe injuries, the victim may not be able to work until they recover. The defendant may be responsible for the victim’s income lost until recovery. If the attack is severe enough to result in a permanent disability, the victim may not be able to go back to their job or return to work at all, and the dog owner would be liable for the victim’s lost future earning capacity.
- Property damage. If the dog attack also damages the victim’s personal property, you may be able to include the costs of repairing or replacing their lost property in a civil claim.
These economic damages can add up to a substantial recovery for a dog bite victim. However, California law also allows plaintiffs in personal injury cases to seek compensation for pain and suffering. This can be difficult to determine in some cases, and it’s a good idea to consult a Costa Mesa dog bite lawyer to help you decide how much compensation for your pain and suffering would be acceptable to include in your claim. The most commonly used method for calculating pain and suffering is to add up the plaintiff’s total economic damages and then multiply this number by up to five, reflecting the severity of their situation.
When calculating your potential damages in a dog bite claim, it is essential to acknowledge California’s pure comparative negligence law. If an investigation determines that a plaintiff in a personal injury case is responsible for causing their claimed damages, the plaintiff loses a percentage of their recovery, reflecting their partial fault. For example, if the court decides that a plaintiff in a dog bite case was 10% at fault for the incident, the plaintiff will lose 10% of their case award. If you have any concerns about comparative negligence coming into play in your case, consult your Costa Mesa dog bite lawyer to determine the best way to address this issue.
Q: How Much Is a Dog Bite Lawsuit Worth in California?
A: Every dog bite injury case is unique. You should work with an experienced Costa Mesa dog bite lawyer to determine the full range of damages you can include in your claim. Typically, you can expect full repayment of your total economic damages and an equivalent or greater sum to compensate you for your pain and suffering.
Q: How Long Will a Dog Bite Case Take to Conclude?
A: The timeline required for any civil claim hinges on multiple factors. If liability for your dog attack is readily apparent and the defendant accepts responsibility for your damages, it’s possible to settle a dog bite claim within a few weeks. However, if the defendant contests liability or other legal variables like comparative negligence come into play, the case may proceed to litigation and take much longer to complete.
Q: How Much Does a Costa Mesa Dog Bite Lawyer Cost?
A: It’s natural to worry about legal costs when you are already facing substantial economic losses from a dog attack. Most personal injury attorneys in California offer contingency fee billing to clients, meaning the attorney takes a percentage of the client’s final case award, but only if they win the case. Make sure you understand how the attorney bills before you agree to their counsel.
Q: Am I Liable if My Dog Attacks an Intruder?
A: If you own a dog and someone breaks into your property, you would not be liable for injuries your dog inflicts on the intruder. The strict liability rule in California only applies when the victim is legally present where the attack occurs and when they have done nothing to provoke the dog into attacking.
You probably have many legal questions after experiencing a dog attack in Costa Mesa, CA. If you are unsure how to approach your case, Easton & Easton can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Costa Mesa dog bite lawyer.