Unfortunately, “man’s best friend” isn’t always so friendly. Dog bites are not uncommon, and when left untreated, they can result in serious injuries, infection, or even death.
If you’ve been attacked by a dog, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.
Identifying the liable party is a critical first step in any lawsuit. In a dog bite case, there are several different parties you may be able to hold responsible.
You may be able to pursue a claim against the dog owner’s insurance company. Also, some homeowners insurance policies cover incidents like dog bites or animal attacks. You may also be able to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner (or caretaker) directly.
Absolutely. In many cases, the effects of a bite wound may not be apparent for days or even weeks after the incident. As such, it is vital to seek the medical treatment you need as soon as possible.
Promptly seeking treatment has another benefit: strengthening your claim.
As the injured party, you have a responsibility to mitigate your damages. This means that you must take all steps necessary to keep your damages to a minimum by seeking treatment, following a doctor’s orders, and doing all you can to heal and move forward.
If you unduly delay in seeking treatment for your injuries, the opposing party may argue that you failed to mitigate your damages and as such, should not be entitled to the full compensation amount you are seeking.
California recognizes the “strict liability” doctrine when it comes to proving a dog bite injury. This means that injured victims need only prove:
(1) that the defendant owned the dog in question,
(2) that the victim was lawfully present on private or public property, and
(3) the victim was injured by the dog.
Whether the dog’s owner acted negligently, the dog’s specific breed, and whether the dog has a violent history are irrelevant.
Despite the strict liability application, dog bite cases are not an automatic “slam dunk.” Dog owners can call upon a number of defenses, including the following:
The dog’s owner or caretaker can argue that you were trespassing on private property at the time you were attacked. If this is true, you may be barred from recovery.
If it turns out that you provoked the dog before it attacked you, for instance, by cornering or taunting it, you may not recover.
If the dog owner proves that you were partially or fully liable for your own injuries, for instance, if the owner provided an adequate warning that the dog was dangerous but you approached it anyway, you may be unable to collect damages.
No matter the circumstances, an experienced dog bite attorney will know which arguments to employ to increase your chances of recovery. If you have been injured by a dog bite, contact our office today for a free consultation.
If you have questions, need the advice of a trusted counselor, or simply do not know where to turn, our team is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
If you are unable to visit us in our office downtown during the week, we are more than happy to meet you at your home or in our office over the weekend. Hablamos espanol.