Most dog owners will say their beloved BFF would never hurt a fly. In many cases, this may be true. Most dogs are loving and loyal companions who cause little more damage than digging up plants or gnawing on sneakers. However, all dogs, regardless of their breed, size, or history, can do harm.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dogs bite approximately 4.7 million people every year. Of these, nearly 800,000 require medical attention, including emergency care and hospitalization. Some dog bites can result in grievous harm, including dismemberment or disfigurement, nerve damage, and scarring. Untreated dog bites can also lead to infections, which can become life-threatening if unaddressed.
If a dog bit you, seek medical attention immediately. Then, when you are well enough to do so, consider contacting a Hidden Hills dog bite lawyer. The attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm could help you pursue compensation for your injuries and pain and suffering. Call the office at (800) 816-0755 to get started with a free case review with a team member.
How to Avoid a Dog Bite
With thousands of dogs in the Los Angeles area, you would have a hard time not coming upon one in your day-to-day life, even if you do not own one yourself. Many Southern California cities permit dog owners to walk their pets on city streets and in parks. You may also encounter friends’ and neighbors’ pets or even come upon service animals in businesses or at the office. Fortunately, most human-dog encounters are neutral, if not positive. However, it is essential to understand that all dogs can bite, whether it is characteristic of them to do so.
Most of the responsibility for dog bite injuries falls on dog owners. California Civil Code (CIV) §3342 makes dog owners liable for any damages when their dog bites someone. Providing their pet with the proper training and socialization to help them behave appropriately at home and in public is part of being a responsible pet owner.
Training can be particularly important for animals with breed-specific tendencies, making them inclined toward nipping or biting in certain circumstances. For example, border collies might have a bred-in instinct to nip at children to “herd” them. Young dogs also tend to have more energy, making them inclined toward nipping and jumping. Consistent, positive reinforcement on the part of the owner can typically “train out” undesirable behaviors.
It is also important for owners to understand their pet’s behavioral tendencies and triggers. For example, most owners know if cyclists or joggers disturb their dogs, or if their dog tends to be territorial or defensive of their “pack.” Owners should also know if their pet has experienced abuse or trauma, causing them to have specific triggers that prompt them to act defensively.
Owners Should Take Steps to Prevent Their Dogs from Biting
In most cases, owners’ pre-emptive actions can prevent bites from occurring:
- Keep their pets on a lead while in public
- Keep them in a fenced yard at home
- Put them in a separate room when strangers visit the family
Owners can also recognize the warning signs when their dog feels stressed, anxious, or afraid and intervene to remove the animal from the triggering situation and protect both the dog and nearby humans or other animals.
Many municipalities have laws to protect animals and the public. These ordinances include leash laws and breed-specific legislation. While all breeds can become dangerous, some breeds, such as pit bulls, cause more significant harm when they attack. Therefore, many communities ban ownership of such breeds.
For a free legal consultation with a Dog Bite Lawyer serving Hidden Hills, call (800) 794-0444
Assigning Liability for Your Dog Bite Incident
If an owner fails to act responsibly and an attack occurs, California’s dog bite statute holds them strictly liable for the harm their animal causes. In some cases, an owner’s insurance coverage, such as a homeowner’s insurance policy, may cover your medical bills, lost income, and property damage. However, a victim might also wish to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the owner to recover financial compensation for their losses.
Additionally, pet owners are not the only ones responsible for preventing dog bites. If a victim provokes or threatens a dog, California’s comparative negligence rules mean a court might assign some blame for the incident on them. They would see any award they receive reduced in proportion to their share of the responsibility.
Even seemingly harmless actions, such as putting your face close to a dog’s face, can prove risky. Always ask an owner for permission before approaching an animal. Even with an owner’s OK, proceed with caution. If the dog exhibits behaviors such as growling, baring teeth, or backing up, do not panic, but remove yourself from the situation slowly and carefully.
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Damages Associated with Dog Bites
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), dog bite injuries cost insurance companies nearly $797 million in liability claims in 2019. Furthermore, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay is more than $18,000, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reported that nearly 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgeries for dog bite injuries in 2018.
Dog bite injuries can vary widely in scope and severity. Some common types of injuries include:
- Deep bruises
- Puncture wounds
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Nerve damage
In addition to the physical toll of such injuries, victims may experience significant emotional distress, including but not limited to anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress.
Dog bite cases also include instances where the animal does not contact the skin. If a dog bites your clothing, causing you to trip and injure yourself, this could even qualify for a dog bite injury claim.
Please note that dog attacks may also cause a victim to fall, which can lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or fractures. However, if the dog did not bite you in the attack, you cannot sue under California’s dog bite statute; you would need to demonstrate the owner’s negligence in a personal injury lawsuit to prevail.
A Hidden Hills dog bite lawyer can help you identify the full scope of losses you have suffered from your injury. These losses may include medical and recovery costs, lost wages, and compensation for emotional pain and suffering. Contact the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to discuss your options.
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Learn More About How a Lawyer Can Help You
Pursuing compensation for a dog bite injury is not always a straightforward process. Owners may be reluctant to admit they or their pet was at fault. Also, while homeowners’ liability insurance covers some incidents, it does not apply to all. You might need to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the owner to seek your rightful compensation in some cases.
Navigating this complicated and time-consuming process can become overwhelming and confusing for someone without extensive legal training and expertise. You can let the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm assist you. Call (800) 816-0755 to speak with a staff member about your situation and determine how a Hidden Hills dog bite lawyer could assist in your fight for justice and compensation.