Injuries from dog bites are serious affairs that can leave victims in significant emotional and psychological pain. In these cases, victims have the right to seek fair compensation for things like medical expenses incurred when treating wounds from the attack.
Like many areas of personal injury law, however, dealing with dog bites can quickly become a complicated procedure best dealt with by having an experienced personal injury attorney at your side. Even before that, it also helps to understand a few basic facts about making a personal injury claim in the aftermath of a dog bite.
California has very strict laws around liability involving dog bites. According to the California Civil Code Section 3342, dog owners are “strictly liable” for any injuries their dog causes. That means owners are liable even if their dog has no history of violence or aggressive behavior. All the victim has to do is show they were bitten in a public place or when lawfully on private land, and the owner is responsible for damages.
There are a couple exceptions to this. If you were trespassing or it’s shown you provoked the dog (teasing or harming it), you may not be eligible to claim damages. If the dog was carrying out duties as a police or military dog, that could further complicate your ability to press a claim. An experienced attorney will understand the complexities behind situations like these and be able to coach you through appropriate next steps.
What to do if Bitten by a Dog
Go to a doctor. First and foremost, seek medical attention immediately. Serious infection or worse can develop from a dog bite left untreated, especially if you’re unsure whether the dog was vaccinated.
Even when the bite seems minor, go to an emergency room or your doctor, so you can obtain evaluations and statements proving your injury is the result of the bite. You will need records of any medical examinations, test results, follow-up care, and prescriptions when you make your claim for compensation. If you or your child sustain a psychological fear of dogs after the bite that warrants medical attention from a mental health professional, you will need records of those visits as well.
Gather evidence. If you’re able, take photos of your injury before medical treatment begins. Get photos of the dog involved in the attack, and record important information like the location of the attack, the dog’s owners, and, if possible, the animal’s vaccination history. If witnesses were nearby, try to gather statements from them. Also save any clothing or personal property torn or bloodied because of the attack.
File a report. You should report the incident to your local animal control agency. Not only is this important for the safety of your entire neighborhood, it also provides further documentation you will use when making a claim for compensation.
Find an experienced attorney. Any time you plan on seeking a claim for compensation after a dog bite, you should consult a personal injury attorney who can discuss your options with you and guide you through the process. Your attorney should have experience dealing with cases involving dog bites. They should also understand some of the nuances surrounding this area of personal injury law.
Rodriguez & Associates have decades of experience working with victims of dog bites in the State of California and are committed to helping clients receive the compensation they deserve. To speak with an attorney about your case at no charge, reach out to us today.