What to Expect From Your Legal Team in Irvine, CA
When you intend to file a civil claim in response to a dog attack, it’s vital to find legal counsel with experience handling this type of case. Your attorney will help you compile your dog bite claim by determining liability for the incident and assessing the details of the case. If you called the police or emergency services immediately after the incident, your attorney would want to review the police report. It’s best to secure legal counsel as soon as possible after a dog bite so your attorney can immediately begin gathering evidence for your claim.
To succeed with their personal injury claim for a dog attack, the plaintiff has to establish a few facts concerning the situation:
- The plaintiff has to prove that the defendant owns the dog that injured them. This establishes grounds for civil action under California’s strict liability statute.
- The plaintiff has to show proof of damages resulting from the attack, such as hospital bills and medical reports from their treatment team.
- The plaintiff has to show that they did not provoke the attack and were lawfully present where the attack occurred.
An experienced Irvine dog bite lawyer can help their client gather physical evidence from the scene of the attack, statements from witnesses who saw the attack occur, or even security or traffic camera footage that captured the attack.
Once your legal team has established fault for your damages, they can then help you compile your personal injury claim by assessing the total scope of your claimable losses. California allows personal injury plaintiffs to seek full recovery from any economic damages suffered due to defendants’ actions, and they may seek compensation for pain and suffering.
After identifying the defendant and calculating your damages, your attorney will help you file your civil claim. At this point, your case could proceed to settlement negotiations if the defendant accepts liability and agrees to discuss a resolution. However, the case could proceed to litigation instead if the defendant disputes their responsibility for the damages listed in the claim or contests the extent of those damages. Your legal team will assist you as you prepare for litigation in this situation, helping you approach your courtroom proceedings with confidence.
Understanding California’s Dog Bite Laws
California enforces a few important statutes that apply to dog bite cases. First is the strict liability statute, which states that a dog owner is fully responsible for any injuries their pet causes to another person. Some other states enforce “one bite” rules that only impose strict liability for dogs known to have bitten people in the past. In California, strict liability applies as long as the victim did not provoke the attack and was lawfully present where the attack occurred.
There is a two-year statute of limitations or time limit for filing a dog bite claim. Your Irvine dog bite attorney will help you ensure your claim meets this deadline and will guide you through the proceedings that follow. Most personal injury claims filed in California end in settlement negotiations. The plaintiff and defendant meet privately to negotiate terms for a resolution to the claim, avoiding the need for lengthy and expensive litigation. However, if settlement isn’t possible or the defendant contests liability, the case may proceed to trial.
It’s also vital for plaintiffs in dog bite cases to understand California’s pure comparative negligence law. Under this law, a plaintiff can still seek compensation for damages if they bear partial fault for the incident in question, but they lose a percentage of their case award to reflect this comparative fault. If an investigation determines that the victim of a dog bite did contribute to causing their claimed damages, either intentionally or negligently, they will lose a percentage of the final case award to reflect this comparative fault. For example, if a plaintiff were 25% at fault in a $100,000 claim, they could lose $25,000 of their case award.
Potential Injuries From a Dog Attack
When most people think of dog attack injuries, they think of bites, but dogs are also capable of causing many other injuries. Bites can result in severe puncture wounds, soft tissue damage, and even crushing fractures depending on the locations of these injuries. Large dogs can also knock people to the ground if they charge them or jump on them. This type of fall is typically sudden and forceful, sometimes resulting in head injuries, spinal injuries, or bone fractures. Many dog attack claims seek compensation for multiple injuries, some of which are very difficult to treat:
- Bites to the hands or feet can result in broken fingers or toes, and the puncture wounds caused by these bites are excruciating. Some victims may struggle with diminished flexibility and chronic pain from these injuries.
- A traumatic brain injury can easily result in permanent harm to the victim. For example, even a seemingly mild concussion from a dog attack can cause adverse symptoms that can persist for months or even years.
- Spinal injuries can leave the victim partially or fully paralyzed, potentially interfering with their ability to work and live independently.
Many dog attack victims face expensive immediate health care costs following these incidents, and they struggle with long-term medical complications and psychological distress. Some injuries can require lengthy and painful recoveries, and the traumatic nature of a dog attack can easily result in psychological harm. Your Irvine dog bite attorney will help you assess the full scope of the physical and emotional damage you’ve suffered from the incident in question.
Claimable Damages in a California Personal Injury Case
The personal injury statutes of California allow plaintiffs to recover various economic damages. The plaintiff’s attorney will help them substantiate their claims for economic damages with receipts, invoices, and other documentation proving the full financial impact of the injury in question. For example, in a dog bite injury claim, the plaintiff’s claimable economic damages are likely to include:
- Medical treatment costs. Medical treatment, both immediately following the dog attack in question and ongoing treatment costs, can be a factor. Dog attacks can easily result in traumatic injuries that will require emergency care. Many of these injuries will need surgical correction, ongoing treatments, and regular evaluations to ensure proper recovery. Some victims will face permanent medical concerns due to their dog attack injuries, and the defendant is also liable for long-term medical expenses.
- Lost wages. If the plaintiff cannot work due to their injuries, they may receive compensation for lost wages. The defendant is liable for income lost by the plaintiff during their recovery or the value of accrued paid time off the plaintiff needed to use because of their injuries. If a plaintiff is severely injured in a manner resulting in permanent disability, the plaintiff can seek compensation for their lost future income. Your Irvine dog bite attorney will help you calculate the future income you would have reasonably expected to earn if your injury hadn’t occurred.
- Property damage. If the dog caused any damage to the plaintiff’s personal property, the plaintiff could include repair or replacement costs in their civil suit.
Many personal injury plaintiffs in California are surprised to discover their claims are worth much more than they initially anticipated. However, they may have overlooked long-term damages like ongoing health care costs and lost future income, and the right attorney can significantly impact these cases. When you choose Easton & Easton to handle your dog bite injury claim in Irvine, CA, we will thoroughly review the details of your injury and the long-term effects you’re likely to face, helping you maximize the economic damages of your claim.
We can also assist you in securing compensation for your pain and suffering. California state law allows personal injury plaintiffs to seek compensation for their pain and emotional suffering caused by a defendant’s actions. Dog attacks can be very frightening and traumatic experiences. Many people who experience these incidents struggle with protracted symptoms of trauma that may extend to anxiety disorders and depression.
There is no limit to the amount a plaintiff may claim in pain and suffering compensation. However, it can be challenging to assign a monetary value to an intangible loss like physical pain. An Irvine dog bite lawyer can help their client calculate reasonable pain and suffering compensation based on the seriousness of their injury and whether the injury is likely to cause long-term complications. If the victim is expected to make a full recovery relatively soon, the attorney can seek an ongoing compensation agreement for pain and suffering. Per diem arrangements like this award a set amount of compensation every day until the plaintiff fully recovers.
Alternatively, a personal injury attorney may seek a large lump sum of pain and suffering on behalf of a client who has suffered permanent harm from their dog attack. Using a multiplier method, the attorney would multiply the client’s claimed economic damages by a factor of one to five to reflect the seriousness of their condition or even more than this in extreme cases. California law does not limit the amount a plaintiff can seek in pain and suffering compensation. As a result, plaintiffs’ non-economic damages could account for large portions of their total recoveries for cases involving catastrophic injuries.
Q: How Long Will My Dog Bite Case Take to Resolve?
A: If the defendant responsible for your damages accepts liability and agrees to settlement negotiations, it’s possible to resolve your claim within a few weeks. Your attorney can guide you through the settlement negotiation process, ensuring you receive appropriate compensation for your losses. If a defendant denies liability, asserts the plaintiff does not have grounds to claim strict liability, or if the parties cannot negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution, the case may go to trial. Litigation may take several months to more than a year to resolve.
Q: Is It Worth Hiring a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Claim?
A: Hiring legal counsel significantly improves your chances of success with any personal injury claim. Your attorney can ensure your case meets all procedural requirements with the court and assist you in calculating all the damages you can seek with your claim. You are far more likely to reach a favorable outcome in your case when you have experienced legal counsel advising you, and you are more likely to maximize your case award with their assistance.
Q: What Happens to the Dog After a Dog Attack in California?
A: In California, the owner of the dog responsible for the attack will likely face stricter obligations in terms of housing and controlling their dog. In most cases, nothing will happen to the dogs that bite people. However, a judge could order a dog to be destroyed if it has a known history of unprovoked aggression resulting in injuries to multiple victims. In addition, the dog’s owner may face additional penalties due to failure to appropriately address their pet’s issues.
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Irvine Dog Bite Lawyer?
A: Easton & Easton understands that many victims are hesitant about the potential cost of legal representation in their civil cases. We maintain a contingency fee policy, meaning there are no upfront costs for our representation, and you only owe a fee for our services once we win your case. The contingency fee is a percentage of your final case award. This ensures you have the legal representation you need to secure an appropriate recovery for your losses.
It’s understandable to have lots of legal questions after a dog attack in the Irvine, CA, area. After addressing your immediate medical needs after such an incident, the best next step toward recovery is to speak with an experienced Irvine dog bite lawyer. The sooner you secure legal counsel, the faster you can proceed with filing your case. Easton & Easton is ready to provide the support and guidance you need to successfully navigate your dog bite claim. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with our firm.