You may be surprised to know that dog bites are the ninth leading cause of unintentional, non-fatal injury to children. A dog bite can cause injuries which are extremely serious, possibly even life-threatening. They can leave scars and cause permanent disfigurement, and can result in a lifetime of pain and suffering. Even worse, a dog attack can become fatal. If you are the victims of a dog attack, call Los Angeles dog bite attorney Joshua Glotzer. We offer a free consultation and only get paid if you win.
According to 2014 dog bite statistics, forty-two people in the United States died as the result of a dog attack. The pit bull breed was responsible for 64% of those deaths, although this particular breed makes up only 6% of the total dog population in America. Most children who are bitten by a dog are bitten by their own family dog, or a neighbor’s dog, and are generally bitten in the face or head.
Statistics show that the most vulnerable groups are children and older adults as far as dog bite fatalities are concerned. Nearly half of all those who die from dog bites are children, ages thirteen and younger. Among adults, 73% of those who are killed from a dog attack are older than 50. Dog bite fatalities are much more likely to occur in women than men, particularly among the elderly.
California Dog Bite Statute
More than 350,000 emergency room visits are the result of a dog bite or a dog attack, yet only about a third of one percent of dog bite victims actually receive compensation for their injuries. Under California Civil Code § 3342, a dog owner is liable for damages suffered by any person bitten by the owner’s dog while:
- In a public place;
- Lawfully in a private place, and
- On the property of the owner of the dog—so long as the person is legally there.
This is true regardless of whether the dog has a history of vicious behavior and whether the owner was aware of that vicious behavior, as some states require. The victim is only required to show he or she was bitten by the dog with no provocation—that is, the person was not teasing the dog or being mean to the dog.
Strict Liability for Dog Bites in California
Under California’s dog bite statue, the victim of a dog bite is not required to prove negligence on the part of the owner of the dog in order to recover compensation for the injuries resulting from the dog bite. In other words, states generally impose either strict liability or negligence when handling dog bite cases. California is a strict liability state, meaning the owner cannot dodge responsibility for the dog bite by claiming he or she was unaware of the dog’s propensity for aggressive behavior.
There are certain exceptions under California’s dog bite statute, including the fact that those who suffer dog bites while the dog is carrying out police or military work, may not be entitled to compensation for those injuries. Further, although some states include any injury caused by a dog under their dog bite laws—such as being knocked over by a large dog and breaking a bone—California’s dog bite statute applies only to dog bites.
Statute of Limitations for California Dog Bites
Under the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, if you are bitten by a dog, you have two years from the time of the dog bite in which to file a personal injury claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. Because it can take a considerable amount of time to thoroughly investigate a dog bite claim, it is essential that you contact an experienced Los Angeles dog bite attorney as soon as possible following your attack.
Dog Bite Damages You May Be Entitled To
Of course the damages you are entitled to will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your dog bite, however you could be entitled to one or more of the following:
- Medical expenses for all treatments related to the bite;
- Lost wages, both past and future;
- Pain and suffering;
- Expenses related to future treatments for disfigurement;
- Physical therapy;
- Other types of rehabilitation services, and
- Wrongful death, if the dog bite resulted in death.
When Workers’ Compensation May Be Appropriate in a California Dog Bite Case
For those who work as delivery people, mail carriers, or any other profession which requires them to go onto private property in order to complete their job, a workers’ comp claim may be appropriate if bitten by a dog. These types of workers have the implied consent of the owners to enter the property, therefore when bitten by a dog could be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. If, however, workers’ comp does refuses to pay, or does not fully cover the extent of the injuries from the dog bite, a third-party claim could be appropriate.
Most Common Injuries Associated with Dog Bites
Before you agree to a settlement, it is crucial that you know the full extent of the injuries resulting from the dog bite. Dog bites can often cause permanent disfigurement, and can require extremely expensive reconstructive surgery, as well as long-term medical care and rehabilitation. Aside from the physical injuries which result from a dog bite, there can also be emotional pain and suffering tied to permanent disfigurement, or psychological issues associated with a vicious dog attack. It is important that all of these be factored in when determining the amount of settlement damages you are entitled to. Further facts associated with dog bite injuries include:
- A full 86% of all dog attacks result in bodily harm to the victim.
- Forty-two percent of those hospitalized for a dog bite were treated for skin lacerations and underlying tissue infection;
- Twenty-two percent had wounds on the legs and arms;
- 5 percent had wounds on the head, neck and torso, and
- The remaining patients suffered bone fractures and blood poisoning.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Bitten by a Dog
If you are the victim of a dog bite in the Los Angeles area, there are steps you can take immediately following the incident which will make it much easier, later on, for your Los Angeles personal injury attorney to build a solid case on your behalf. These steps include:
- Seek immediate medical attention. Even if you believe your bite injuries are not all that serious and you can doctor them on your own, they could later become infected, or could be much more serious than you realize. The best course of action is to go to an ER or to your own doctor and have them look at your bite. Aside from ensuring you are medically taken care of, seeing a doctor will also document the bite for the insurance company.
- Call Animal Control. While the owner of the dog should do this, he or she may not, therefore make sure that call is made. This is a crucial step, necessary to determine whether the dog has rabies.
- Take Photographs. If you are medically able, take photographs of your injuries resulting from the bite, as well as the place where the dog bit you. If you have a claim later on, such photos can be invaluable.
- Get Information. If there were witnesses to your dog bite, get their names and addresses.
- Contact a Los Angeles dog bite attorney immediately.
Dog Bite Facts
Below are a few additional facts regarding dog bites:
- Pit Bulls and Rottweiler breeds together account for three-quarters of all fatal dog attacks between 2005 and 2014. In this ten-year period, pit bull breeds killed 203 people while Rottweiler breeds killed 38 people.
- Nearly half of all the fatalities in 2014 were children, ages 13 and younger. Of the adults killed by dog attacks in 2014, 73 percent were fifty years or older.
- Fatal dog attacks increased 82 percent from the 1980s to 2012.
- Overall, there are more female victims of dog bites and dog bite fatalities than male victims.
- In more than half of all dog-bite fatalities in 2014, more than one dog was involved. Eight of the fatalities involved a pack of dogs (four or more).
- Nearly a quarter of the 2014 fatal dog bite attacks resulted in criminal charges.
- State Farm reports that in 1995 the company paid $70 million on 11,000 claims, and estimated the total annual insurance cost for dog bites at near $2 billion.
- More than a third of all homeowner insurance liability claim dollars paid in 2012 ($489 million) were the result of a dog bite.
- State Farm paid out for more than 3,550 dog bite claims in 2010, with an average payout of $25,714.
How a Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney Can Help
Once you have an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney on board, he or she will negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company or companies, or will engage in litigation in order to ensure you are properly compensated for your injuries.
With a thorough knowledge of all California statutes pertaining to dog bites, your attorney will use this knowledge to your advantage, undertaking an immediate investigation to ensure vital evidence is not lost or destroyed.