A dog bite can be a horrific experience leaving you physically scarred and emotionally traumatized. Even after receiving proper medical care and making as full of a recovery as possible, you may still find yourself unable to partake in important activities you used to enjoy, such as going for a walk in your neighborhood or local park. The fear of being attacked and bitten by a dog again can be overwhelming; it can keep you confined to your house, afraid to enjoy the outdoors. You may also have a disfiguring scar on your arm, hand, leg, face, or other part of your body. Such permanent physical scarring can last a lifetime and can affect your sense of self worth. The careless and irresponsible dog owner must be held accountable. You are legally entitled to have all of your medical bills paid for and to recover just compensation for your physical injuries and mental and emotional trauma you have been through. Call our firm today and talk to a dedicated dog bite lawyer San Diego and learn your legal rights and remedies as a bite victim.
After a dog attack, the dog owner will typically deny liability and attempt to shift the blame onto you. This is an unfortunate truth that is all too often a reality. If the attack happened at the owner’s home, the witnesses will likely be friends and family who are likely to be biased in favor of the owner. Dog bites can cause serious injuries and disfigurement, leaving physical and emotional scars lasting a lifetime. What you need to know is that, in California, an owner can be held strictly liable (responsible) for the bite and resulting injuries. The law expects and requires owners to keep their dogs on a leash in public and to take such precautions that a reasonable person would in order to prevent a dog attack on an innocent victim. In fact, San Diego, as well as most cities and towns have local ordinances that specify what minimum standard of care an owner must exercise to protect others.
When a dog attack occurs, more often than not it is because the owner acted carelessly. Either they knew of a propensity to bite, or they failed to use a leash, or they were otherwise careless in protecting the public. It is not even necessary to show that the dog owner was careless. California law places strict liability upon owners. Under California’s dog bite statute, Civil Code Section 3342, an owner is strictly liable if injury caused by a bite that occurs in a public place (for example, a park) or while you are lawfully on the owner’s property. Liability is automatic, regardless of whether the dog had a prior history of biting or attacking people or whether the owner had knowledge of the dog’s vicious tendency. The law of strict liability for dog bites can be utilized to hold the owner responsible, irrespective of whether they were careful or not. Strict liability is a matter of public policy. That is, as a matter of public policy, it makes good sense to hold owners strictly responsible for bite injuries. Such a policy encourages owners to take extra precautions to ensure the public is protected.
In addition to being held liable under a theory of strict liability, dog owners can be held liable under a theory of negligence. Dog owners owe a duty to the public and guests on their premises to exercise reasonable care and caution so that their dog does not cause injury to anyone, whether from a bite or an attack. And as stated before, most cities have local ordinances that require a minimum standard of care and caution. For example, in San Diego, the local ordinance, San Diego County Code Section 62.669(b), specifically requires that a dog kept on a tether or leash, control by a pet containment system, or in a building or enclosure that is adequate to ensure the physical confinement of the dog.
Dogs are regarded by many as man’s best friend, and the owner and his or her friends and family will likely feel this way. They will do everything they can to protect themselves and may even fabricate facts stating that you provoked the attack. This is expected. Our lawyers are experts in dog bite cases. We interview witnesses and obtain their testimony, and build up a strong case against the owner. Such evidence will be critical for disproving any false allegations by the owner that you had provoked the attack, should such allegations ever be made. By meticulously preparing your case, and then fighting hard for your right to hold the owner responsible, your dog bite lawyer will hold the owner accountable.
Dog bites frequently result in severe emotional scarring. Emotional trauma may range from sadness, to confusion, to uncertainty of the future mental and physical impact the attack may have on you and your family. You may even have feelings of anger and resentment. You may also experience a change or disruption in your lifestyle and not be able to engage in the same activities you used to enjoy. Dealing with emotional scarring may require years of therapy, taking a toll on you physically, emotionally, and financially. Your dog bite lawyer will discuss these matters with you and make sure that your right to receive treatment and monetary compensation for your future suffering is fully protected.
Physical scars may require reconstructive surgery and extended rehabilitation and recovery time. If you were bitten on the face and suffered a facial laceration, treatment of the scarring on your face may include painful procedures such as tissue transfer, injections, and laser resurfacing. These types of treatment are necessary both for medical reasons and for improving your sense of self worth, and are expensive. You may not have insurance coverage or you may not want to use your own insurance, so one of the first things that your personal injury attorney will do is determine the available sources of insurance coverage, such as the owner’s homeowners insurance.
In many cases, a dog attack may cause such a deep and penetrating laceration that the resulting scar is more than a blemish; it is disfiguring. Disfigurement, especially on a noticeable part of your body such as the face or neck, can take a toll on your self esteem and result in emotional trauma. For example, if a dog bit your son or daughter’s face, your child could have a disfiguring scar that lasts a lifetime and adversely affects their sense of self worth. While no amount of money can adequately compensate such an injury, the law does attempt to arrive at a monetary figure that should be awarded to you for having been bitten and suffering disfigurement from a dog bite. With the help of a dog bite lawyer, you can obtain the maximum financial compensation available under the law for any disfigurement.
Many people don’t realize that homeowners’ insurance policies typically provide for coverage for a dog bite. Most policies also have exclusions for certain breeds. As part of the investigation process, your dog attack lawyer will determine whether the dog owner has homeowner insurance coverage that will cover your claim, including your medical bills and your pain and suffering. Homeowner insurance policies can provide for substantial amounts of coverage to help you heal from your physical injuries and emotional trauma.
Despite that California law imposes strict liability upon the owner, liability is not absolute. Depending on the circumstances, the owner may be able to assert the defense of assumption of risk. However, this defense is rarely applied and usually limited to circumstances where the victim clearly assumed the risk of a bite, such as, for example, where the victim is a member of the staff of a veterinary clinic.
Contact Injury Law Group and talk to an experienced dog bite lawyer San Diego. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will fight for you and hold the owner responsible for your injuries and there is no fee until we win your case and recover financial compensation for you and your family. Call now for your free attorney consultation. Call 619-255-3900, or toll free 800-333-7996.