Given the state’s large population, it should come as no surprise that California is full of dog owners. In total, California makes up approximately 14% of the 4.5 million dog bites the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports each year.
If you suffered injuries from a dog bite, you could have a viable claim for compensation against the owner of the animal. Pursuing these claims is complex, from investigation through litigation. A California dog bite lawyer can assist you with every step of the claims process. Call (800) 816-0755 to schedule a free consultation with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm right away.
Dog Bite Injuries That Can Result in a Financial Award
Any substantial injury that results from a dog bite or animal attack could result in financial compensation. Bites from dogs of all sizes could have long-term or even permanent consequences. While the bites themselves can result in serious damage, they can also lead to a host of medical complications that can follow you for years. Some of the health consequences that come with a dog bite include:
- Eye injuries
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Emotional trauma
A California dog bite lawyer can pursue legal action on your behalf for any of these injuries. If you are living with the consequences of a dog attack, schedule a free consultation with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm as soon as possible.
Owner Liability for Dog Bite Injuries
When it comes to a dog owner’s liability for an animal attack, every state takes a different approach. In general, there are two broad approaches. The first is known as the negligence approach. This legal theory only lets an injury victim pursue compensation from the dog owner if they can show the owner acted negligently in allowing the attack to happen.
The second legal theory is known as strict liability. In strict liability states, a plaintiff only needs to establish that they suffered a bite from the defendant’s dog. There is no requirement that they show the dog owner acted negligently in any way.
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite injuries. This is good news for victims, as pursuing claims under this theory is favorable compared to the negligence approach. Unlike in other states, a plaintiff does not have to prove that the dog owner knew their animal was vicious or failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the attack. Instead, a plaintiff must only show that the defendant’s dog bit them, and they were either in public or lawfully in a private place when the attack happened.
While this sounds like a low bar for the plaintiff to meet, there are some viable defenses that a dog owner can rely on. For example, a dog owner could make the case that the plaintiff was not actually injured or that the bite never occurred.
There are two defenses that are especially common in these cases. The first defense centers around where the attack occurred. If the dog attack occurred on private property that the injury victim had no right to be on, the animal’s owner is not liable for any damages that occur. The second common defense relates to provocation. Even if the attack did not involve a trespassing victim, any acts to provoke the dog could damage the injury victim’s claim.
Injuries Involving Other Attacks
Not all dog injuries result directly from a bite. In some cases, an injury will occur when a dog knocks a person to the ground or scratches them with their claws. Unfortunately, the strict liability standard does not apply in these cases.
The good news is that injury victims in these situations are not without recourse. The bad news is that a plaintiff must make their case using the negligence theory. In other words, a plaintiff must establish that the dog owner knew or should have known that their dog might be dangerous. Additionally, the plaintiff has to show that the dog owner failed to take reasonable steps to prevent their dog from causing harm.
The difficulty of proving negligence can vary in these cases. While it can be difficult to establish that a dog owner knew their animal was dangerous, there are situations where the law presumes the dog owner acted negligently. This includes cases where the owner acted in violation of a state or local health statute or code. A common example is the violation of local leash laws.
Time Limit to File Suit
Every plaintiff in a civil lawsuit must comply with the legal deadline known as the statute of limitations. Dog bite injury plaintiffs are no exception to this requirement. The amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit varies by state as well as by the type of claim. California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1 governs dog bite injury claims in the State of California.
According to the Code, the victim of a dog bite injury has two years from the date the attack occurs to file a civil lawsuit. The courts have the power to dismiss a case with prejudice if the plaintiff files it after the deadline expires. Given what is at stake, it is vital for every plaintiff to comply with the applicable statute of limitations.
Recover Compensation for Your Dog Bite Injuries
If you have questions about your rights following a dog attack, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has answers. We understand that the days and weeks following an animal attack can be stressful and confusing, which is why we are always prepared to offer a free consultation when it is convenient for you.
During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have about your potential damage award or the legal process in general. To get started, call (800) 816-0755 to schedule a free consultation to see how a California dog bite lawyer can help you.