A dog bite is one of the most horrific events a person can experience. Dog attacks and bites can result in serious injuries, emotional trauma, and steep medical expenses. If the victim is a child or elderly, it can even prove fatal. That’s why it’s crucial to understand your rights and legal options if you or a loved one find yourselves in this situation.
What follows is more information about the legal aspects surrounding dog bites, the responsibilities of dog owners, and how The Dominguez Firm can assist you in navigating a dog bite injury claim. If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite injury, call us today for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818.
Who is Responsible For a Dog Bite?
In California, the owner of a dog is responsible for any injuries caused by their pet. If a dog bites or attacks someone, the owner can be held liable for any damages. Note that liability applies even if the owner had no prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive behavior. And unlike other states, California doesn’t have the one free bite rule. One bite is enough to hold the owner responsible. California law imposes strict liability on dog owners for injuries caused by their pets, with only a few exceptions.
What if I’m Friends With the Dog’s Owner?
Even if you are friends with the dog’s owner, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The owner is responsible for the actions of their pet, regardless of their relationship with the victim. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process while minimizing any strain on your personal relationship.
What is the Dog Attack Injury Scale?
The Dog Attack Injury Scale is a classification system that describes the severity of injuries resulting from dog bites or attacks. The scale ranges from Level 1, which includes minor injuries such as scratches and bruises, to Level 6, which proves fatal. The severity of the injury can affect the compensation you are entitled to and the potential criminal charges the dog owner may face.
- Level 1 –No skin contact, aggression without biting, or mild tooth contact without puncturing the skin.
- Level 2: Superficial bites with one to four punctures, but no deep puncture wounds.
- Level 3: One to four puncture wounds with at least one being deep, or a single bite causing bruising and deeper tissue damage.
- Level 4: Single or multiple bites causing multiple deep puncture wounds in at least two locations on the victim’s body.
- Level 5: Multiple bites with extensive tissue loss, crushing, or tearing, resulting in severe injuries.
- Level 6: Fatal bite resulting in the death of the victim.
Who Are the Most Frequent Victims of Dog Bites?
The most frequent victims of dog bites can vary depending on various factors such as location and circumstances. However, in general, the following groups tend to be more susceptible to dog bites:
- Children: Children are often the most common victims of dog bites due to their small size, unpredictable movements, and lack of understanding about interacting safely with dogs.
- Postal workers and delivery personnel: Individuals who frequently visit homes as part of their job, such as postal workers and delivery personnel, can be at higher risk of dog bites due to the nature of their work.
- Senior citizens: Older adults may be more vulnerable to dog bites due to reduced mobility, slower reaction times, and a potential inability to defend themselves.
- Joggers, cyclists, and runners: People engaging in outdoor activities like jogging, cycling, or running may trigger a poorly trained dog’s prey drive, leading to a higher risk of bites.
- Unfamiliar individuals: Dogs may perceive strangers as potential threats, increasing the likelihood of defensive or aggressive behavior resulting in bites.
It’s important to note that these groups are not the exclusive victims of dog bites, and anyone, regardless of age or occupation, can be at risk. Promoting responsible pet ownership, educating individuals about proper dog behavior and interaction, and emphasizing proactive prevention measures are crucial in reducing the occurrence of dog bites.
What Are the Most Common Dog Bite Injuries?
Dog bite injuries can vary in severity, but some of the most common types include:
- Puncture wounds: Puncture wounds occur when a dog’s teeth penetrate the skin, leaving small, deep holes. These injuries can range from minor to severe depending on the force of the bite.
- Lacerations: Lacerations are cuts or tears in the skin caused by a dog’s bite. They can vary in depth and length and may require stitches or other medical interventions for proper healing.
- Abrasions and contusions: Abrasions are scrapes or superficial injuries to the skin, while contusions are bruises caused by the impact of the dog’s teeth. These injuries typically occur when a dog bites and releases without causing deep puncture wounds.
- Soft tissue injuries: Soft tissue injuries involve damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, or other connective tissues. These injuries can be painful and may require medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Infections: Dog bites can introduce bacteria into the body, increasing the risk of infection. Common infections include cellulitis, which affects the skin and underlying tissues, and in more severe cases, sepsis.
- Fractures and broken bones: A powerful bite can result in fractures or broken bones, particularly if the bite exerts significant force or targets a vulnerable area such as limbs.
- Facial injuries: Dog bites to the face can cause extensive damage, including lacerations, soft tissue injuries, fractures, and damage to sensitive structures like the eyes, nose, or mouth. Children are particularly prone to facial injuries due to their size.
- Psychological trauma: Dog bites can also have emotional and psychological effects, leading to fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Seek prompt medical attention for any dog bite to assess the extent of the injury, prevent infection, and ensure appropriate treatment.
Are Dog Owners Strictly Liable for Bites in California?
Yes, in California, dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries caused by their pets, with only a few limited exceptions. This means the owner is responsible for any damages, regardless of whether or not they were negligent. Some of the few exceptions to this rule are if the victim was trespassing, committing a crime, or provoking the dog.
What Counts as a “Bite” Under California’s Dog-Bite Law?
Under California law, a “bite” is defined as any contact between a dog’s teeth and a person’s body that causes an injury, regardless of whether or not the skin is broken. This means that even if the dog did not break the skin, the owner can still be held liable if the victim suffered an injury.
Is There Criminal Liability for a California Dog Bite Injury?
Yes, in certain cases, a dog owner can face criminal charges for a dog bite injury. The most obvious example would be if the dog owner ordered the dog to attack the victim. Also, if the owner knew or should have known that their pet was dangerous, and the dog causes serious bodily injury or death, the owner can be charged with a felony.
Are Police or Military Liable for Dog Bite Attacks?
In general, police and military dogs are exempt from California’s dog bite law. This means that their handlers are not liable for any injuries caused by the dog in the course of their duties. However, if the handler was negligent in controlling the dog, or if the dog was off duty at the time of the attack, the handler may be held liable for any resulting injuries.
What is the California Statute Of Limitations For Dog Bite Injuries?
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including dog bite injuries, is generally two years from the date of the attack. You must file your claim within two years, or you may lose your right to pursue compensation. However, the statute of limitations can vary and may be subject to change, such as if the victim is a child. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney to see what the time limit is for filing a claim given your particular circumstances.
Which Dog Breeds Bite the Most People?
While any dog can potentially bite or attack, some breeds are statistically more likely to do so than others. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, among the dog breeds that bite the most people are:
- Pit Bulls
- German Shepherds
- Labrador Retrievers
This list does not necessarily mean these breeds are inherently more aggressive or dangerous than others. Many factors can contribute to a dog’s behavior, including how they are trained and socialized, as well as their individual temperament. It’s always important to approach any dog with caution and respect, regardless of their breed.
Can I Afford to Hire the Dog Bite Injury Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm?
The dog bite injury lawyers at The Dominguez Firm work on a contingency basis. That simply means we get paid from a percentage of your final settlement or verdict amount. That percentage will be clearly stated in the representation agreement you sign when you become our client. You don’t have to worry about any out-of-pocket or up front legal fees of any kind. And if we’re unable to secure any compensation for you—which is highly unlikely, you owe us nothing. In other words, if there is no recovery, there is no fee.
Call the Dog Bite Injury Attorneys at The Dominguez Firm
In the majority of cases, dogs are our faithful companions. Many consider their dogs another member of the family, and justifiably so. However, when dogs aren’t properly trained and socialized, they can prove dangerous, especially around children or strangers.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries due to a dog bite, the personal injury attorneys at The Dominguez Firm are here to help. You have rights and don’t have to deal with the resulting anguish and medical bills alone. Call us today for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818.
My experience was good. They made sure to kept me in the loop and made sure to let me know what was going on the whole time. My mom has used other attorneys and this experience was beyond better. I would definitely recommend them!
— Ashley Magana
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— Janet Salazar
My experience with The Dominguez Firm and the attorneys was really good. They were very informative and always returned my calls.
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