How to Recover Compensation After A Dog Bite
The Los Angeles Times once referred to California as the dog bite capital of the U.S. due to the large number of dog bites that are reported every year. Dog bites may not seem as serious as car crashes or other personal injury cases, but they certainly can be. While many dogs leave minor, shallow wounds on the victim’s skin, some dogs are powerful enough to rip through skin and muscle to create a deep, painful wound. If open wounds like these are not treated properly, serious complications could occur.
Like other personal injury victims, dog bite victims have the right to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for their injuries. Here’s what you should know about recovering compensation for a dog bite injury in California:
Who is Liable For Dog Bite Injuries?
Each state has its own dog bite laws. California is a strict liability state, which means that dog owners can almost always be held liable if their dog bites and injures someone. Since California is a strict liability state, dog owners cannot try to escape liability by arguing they did not know the dog was aggressive. Even if this is the first time the dog has hurt someone, the dog’s owner is liable.
However, the dog’s owner will not be liable if the victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the bite. In this case, it is the victim’s fault that they were attacked by the dog, who was most likely guarding the property. Dog owners can also avoid liability if they can prove that the victim was provoking the dog prior to the attack.
It’s important to note that the strict liability laws only apply to injuries caused by a dog bite. For example, let’s say a dog aggressively jumps on you and scratches your arms and face. In this case, the dog hurt you, but he never actually bit you. Therefore, the strict liability law would not apply. Instead, the state’s negligence laws that apply to all other personal injury cases would apply. In order to hold the dog’s owner liable, the victim would have to prove that the owner’s negligence directly led to their injuries.
What Should Dog Bite Victims Do Immediately After An Attack
Your first priority should always be your safety, so call for emergency medical assistance if you are seriously injured as a result of a dog bite. If there is a lot of bleeding, apply pressure on the wound with a clean cloth until help has arrived.
Even if you think it’s only a minor wound, it’s best to seek medical treatment from a doctor instead of treating the injury at home. About 50% of dog bites introduce various strains of bacteria into the victim’s body. If the wound is not cleaned properly, an infection can develop that can lead to serious complications. To avoid this problem, it’s recommended that you let a doctor clean the wound.
If possible, try to identify the owner of the dog so you can exchange information with them, just as you would do with another driver after a car accident. In addition to getting their contact information, you should also ask the dog’s owner to provide you with the dog’s vaccination history. This is an important question to ask since it can affect your health. If they don’t have the dog’s paperwork handy, ask them to list the vaccinations that they can remember, and then get the name of the dog’s vet so you can access the dog’s full medical history later on.
If anyone else saw the dog bite you, ask for their contact information as well. Your attorney will need to interview these witnesses later on to determine if they have any information that can be used in your case.
After seeking medical attention, it’s recommended that you file a report with the local animal control agency. This helps local authorities keep track of the dog bites that are occurring within the community. If the same dog has been reported multiple times, the dog could be labeled as a potentially dangerous dog or a vicious dog in the state of California.
Dog bite victims should also document their injuries throughout their recovery. Take photos of the injuries as soon as possible after the bite, and then continue to take photos as the injuries heal. If you can, keep an injury journal so you can document the pain that you are experiencing on a daily basis as well.
How Long Do Dog Bite Victims Have to Take Legal Action?
Dog bite victims need to act quickly in order to recover compensation. In the state of California, victims only have two years from the date of the dog bite to file a personal injury lawsuit. If a lawsuit is filed after the two years has passed, the judge presiding over the case will most likely toss it out.
Do not wait until the two years is almost up before seeking legal representation. It’s best to hire an attorney as soon as possible after the dog bite. It is much easier to gather evidence from the scene of the incident shortly after the accident than it is months or years later. Plus, witnesses may not remember the details of the dog bite if you contact them months after it happened.
Have you been bitten by a dog? If so, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman as soon as possible to discuss your case. Our team of compassionate personal injury attorneys will hold the negligent parties responsible for your injuries. With our help, dog bite victims may be able to recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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