Understanding the Strict Liability Rule for Dog Attacks
Every state has different laws in place to address dog bites. While some states enforce one-bite rules that effectively give dog owners one chance to avoid liability for injuries their pets cause, California does not have any such statutes in place. Strict liability applies in dog bite claims, meaning a dog owner is fully liable for all damages their pet inflicts on someone else, regardless of whether the dog has any known history of aggression or past attacks. Dog owners are expected to control their pets at all times, and the strict liability rule asserts that if a dog bites someone, the owner is negligent in their handling of the dog.
There are only two legal prerequisites that must be met in a dog bite case for strict liability to apply. First, the victim must not have provoked the attack. Dogs are protective of their owners and families, and if the victim was aggressive with the dog’s owner in any way, the dog is likely to respond defensively. Dogs are also expected to defend themselves, so a person who intentionally abuses another person’s dog cannot sue the dog’s owner if the dog bites to defend itself.
Second, the victim must have been lawfully present wherever the attack occurred. This could be public property or private property with the property owner’s permission to enter the premises. A trespasser or burglar could not assert strict liability if they illegally enter someone else’s property and the property owner’s dog attacks them.
If you are unsure whether strict liability applies to your case, you need to consult a Los Angeles dog bite attorney as soon as possible. They can assist you in gathering any evidence needed to ensure your claim meets the definition of strict liability so you can hold the dog owner appropriately accountable for the damages their pet caused.
Claiming Compensation for a Dog Attack in Los Angeles
After your attorney has helped you assert strict liability for your dog attack, you can proceed with claiming compensation for the losses you suffered. The total value of a personal injury case depends on the severity of the plaintiff’s damages, the scope of long-term or permanent harm the plaintiff suffered, and other factors. Generally, the plaintiff in a personal injury claim will seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages they incurred from the incident.
Economic damages are relatively straightforward and proven with the appropriate documentation. These are the direct financial losses incurred by the plaintiff from their dog attack:
- A plaintiff has the right to seek compensation for all medical care they require to fully heal from their injuries. Dog attacks may involve damaging bites, deep scratches, and injuries from the victim hitting the ground. The owner of the dog that attacked you is liable for both immediate and future medical expenses you incur from the attack. For example, you can hold the defendant accountable for your hospital bills and other immediate medical expenses, but you could also seek compensation for the cost of future rehabilitative care you will need to reach full recovery.
- When a plaintiff is left unable to work and earn income due to the severity of their injuries, the defendant is liable for the income they lose during their recovery. You can hold the defendant accountable for your lost wages, and if you suffered any serious harm that will prevent you from working and earning income in the future, they are liable for these unrealized damages as well. Your Los Angeles dog bite attorney could help prove how much income you would have reasonably expected to earn in the future if you hadn’t been injured.
- When a dog has damaged the plaintiff’s property in any way, the plaintiff can add repair and replacement costs to their personal injury claim as economic damages.
Your Los Angeles dog bite attorney can be extremely helpful when it comes to accurately calculating the full extent of the economic losses you can include in your personal injury claim. You could be entitled to recover more than you initially realize, but beyond your economic losses, you will also have the right to seek compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced.
Claiming Pain and Suffering Compensation in a Dog Bite Case
Any dog attack can not only cause painful injuries, but the experience itself can be highly traumatic for the victim. They could experience adverse mental health symptoms and long-term physical complications from their injury. If this applies to your situation, your Los Angeles dog bite attorney can assist you with claiming pain and suffering compensation from the defendant. The state does not place a limit on pain and suffering in dog bite claims, so this could potentially amount to more compensation than the total of your claimed economic damages.
Los Angeles attorneys typically determine appropriate pain and suffering compensation for their clients by assessing the scope and severity of the injuries they suffered and the time it will take for them to fully heal. When a plaintiff is expected to make a full recovery in the near future, their attorney might seek pain and suffering compensation to reflect the time it takes them to reach maximum medical improvement from their injuries. Alternatively, when a plaintiff has suffered catastrophic injuries and faces long-term or permanent disability, their attorney may opt to seek a large lump sum of pain and suffering compensation on their behalf.
Resolving Your Dog Bite Claim in Los Angeles
Other factors may also come into play in a dog bite case or other personal injury case, complicating the victim’s path to recovery. For example, the state upholds a pure comparative negligence law, meaning a plaintiff can face diminished compensation if they share liability for causing their damages. If a plaintiff is assigned any percentage of fault for causing the incident, this percentage is deducted from their case award.
Conversely, a plaintiff may receive more compensation if the defendant was egregiously negligent in the handling of their dog or coerced their dog to attack the victim intentionally. These could be considered criminal acts, and if a defendant in a personal injury case is criminally charged, the plaintiff may receive punitive damages or restitution on top of their claimed losses. Ultimately, many variables could come into play and complicate a dog bite case, and having legal counsel you can trust on your side makes it easier to address these variables effectively.
When you hire Easton & Easton as your Los Angeles dog bite attorneys, we will do everything we can to streamline your proceedings, helping you reach a timely and acceptable settlement with the defendant. However, we are fully prepared to represent you in a trial if your case needs to be resolved through litigation.
Our firm believes in client-focused legal representation. This means we will listen to your story and take time to understand the scope of the effects your recent experience has had on your life. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to personal injury cases, and every plaintiff needs reliable legal counsel to navigate their case effectively. Time is a critical concern for anyone struggling in the aftermath of a dog attack in Los Angeles. You have a limited window in which to file a civil suit, and working quickly to connect with the legal counsel you can trust helps to preserve the freshness of the evidence you will need to maximize your case award. Easton & Easton can provide the compassionate and responsive legal representation you need to reach the optimal outcome for your recovery efforts after a dog attack in Los Angeles.
Dog Bite Lawyer FAQs
Q: What Happens to a Dog After It Bites Someone in Los Angeles?
A: California law requires any dog that injures a person through a bite or serious scratch to be quarantined for 10 days. This is to ensure the dog does not have any communicable diseases and to verify that the dog is not a danger to others. In most cases, the dog is returned to its owner after the quarantine review concludes it is safe to do so. However, if the dog is excessively aggressive or has a serious infection that could pose a public health risk, a judge may order the dog to be euthanized.
Q: How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim in Los Angeles?
A: There is a two-year statute of limitations for dog bite claims and other personal injury claims in the state. This means you must file your claim within two years of the date of the attack, or you lose the right to claim compensation from the defendant. It takes time to compile a civil suit and thoroughly review the various damages you can claim, so it is generally advised for personal injury clients to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after their injuries. Swift legal action preserves vital evidence and ensures the plaintiff meets applicable filing deadlines.
Q: How Much Compensation Can I Win From a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
A: California’s strict liability rule states that the dog owner is fully responsible for all damages their pet inflicted. You have the right to claim compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and your pain and suffering. When you have suffered serious injuries, you may have grounds to claim compensation for your future damages, such as ongoing medical treatment costs and lost earning power. An experienced Los Angeles dog bite attorney is the ideal resource to consult to determine the total potential value of your claim.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Settle a Personal Injury Claim in Los Angeles?
A: Settling your personal injury case may only take a few weeks if the defendant’s fault is clear and you have an experienced attorney representing you. Settlement allows all parties involved to resolve their dispute as quickly as possible, avoiding the time required for litigation. However, if a defendant refuses to settle or if settlement is not possible for any other reason, litigation will be necessary. This can take several months to more than a year to complete in some cases.
Q: What Does It Cost to Hire a Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney?
A: When you are already struggling with expensive damages from a personal injury, it is natural to have concerns about how much it may cost to file your civil suit. Hiring an experienced Los Angeles dog bite attorney can significantly improve your chances of winning maximum compensation for your damages, and with Easton & Easton, you will not need to worry about upfront or ongoing legal fees. We take personal injury cases with a contingency fee agreement, only collecting compensation once we win our client’s case. Additionally, our fee is a percentage of the total amount recovered for the client, and they keep the rest.
The attorneys at Easton & Easton know how traumatic a dog attack can be and the various damages the victim might suffer. If you or a family member is recovering from a dog attack and believe you have grounds to file a civil suit against the dog owner, it’s crucial to connect with a Los Angeles dog bite attorney you can trust to handle your claim. Contact Easton & Easton today to schedule your consultation with our team and learn more about the legal services we can provide for your dog bite case.