Dog Bites – What Are the Chances You Could Be Bitten?
One thousand Americans arrive in emergency rooms every day having suffered injuries from dog bites. Approximately one third of all American households own a dog. While most dogs are considered docile and obedient, without proper socialization any dog can be provoked into biting by loud noises, aggressive movement, or threatening situations. It is the responsibility of a dog’s owner to seek proper obedience training and take all necessary measures to ensure that the dog will not attack. If a dog is overly aggressive, and prone to attacking people, it’s the owner’s responsibility to surrender it to an animal shelter.
An attack can happen to anyone, however research shows that children are most at risk. Close to half of those suffering from dog bites are children. Dog bite injuries often leave victims physically and emotionally scarred. More serious cases of dog attack have even resulted in death. Medical costs for reconstructive surgery and psychological recovery can be exorbitant, and often beyond the financial means of the victim. That’s when the law steps in.
If You Are the Victim
It’s extremely important to identify the animal that bit you. If for some reason this is impossible, you face the probability of having to submit to painful treatment for rabies. Additionally, if you were attacked by a dog, or any animal being kept by a person, you are almost certainly entitled to compensation from its owner. Depending on the severity of your injury, that compensation may well be needed to pay the medical costs of reconstructive surgery, reimburse you for lost income, and help you overcome psychological trauma from your injuries. Next, seek medical attention as quickly as possible. If your face is wounded, insist on being treated by a cosmetic surgeon, as appearance will matter to you and emergency room personnel aren’t always trained in this specialty.
“Dog Bite” Law in California
Those who own, harbor, or keep a dog may be held liable for payment or compensation if it harms a person, a domestic animal, a farm animal, or even causes damage to property. California is a strict liability state. This means that a dog owner is liable for injuries inflicted by his dog upon a human being, even if the owner was not negligent and the dog had never bitten anyone prior. Therefore, the dog owner is almost automatically liable. Generally, in the United States, civil laws provide monetary compensation for the victim, criminal laws may impose punishment on the dog owner, and administrative laws provide for remedy against the dog itself.
Damages arising from harm caused by dog bites or attack are often covered by homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, motor home owner’s insurance, condominium owner’s insurance, landlord’s insurance, or another form of insurance provided by the dog owner. However, if insurance is inadequate or does not exist on either side, the dog owner is usually held responsible for paying damages out of pocket.
Dog Owner’s Defense
On the other side, the typical defenses against dog bite claims are that the victim may have provoked the dog or was illegally on the property. It may be alleged that the victim was in some way negligent, or even willfully assumed the risk. Or, that the victim was an experienced canine professional and is deemed to have consciously assumed the risk. When the victim is a child, a parent may be held to have been negligent and failed to properly supervise the child, therefore causing the accident.
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Laurence Mandell Will Help You Evaluate Your Case
Laurence Mandell is the managing partner of The Mandell Law Firm, an aggressive personal injury and wrongful death law firm in Woodland Hills, California serving clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, the Greater Los Angeles area and Southern California. Experienced and reputable, our attorneys provide hands-on care and sincere commitment to victims of personal injury of all kinds, including dog bites and animal attacks. If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, contact Laurence Mandell for a free consultation at 818.886.6600.