Orange County Dog Bite Lawyers
Dogs can be loyal and full of love – until they attack. Being bitten by a dog is a traumatic experience, often taking a physical, emotional, and financial toll for victims. There are over 4.7 million annual dog bites nationwide, with many more never reported. Many people need medical treatment for bite injuries, and they deserve compensation for their losses if someone else’s dog was to blame.
If a dog bites you, never wait to speak to an Orange County dog bite lawyer from Bentley & More LLP, to assess your injuries, file a claim and seek fair compensation.
California dog bite laws
Civil courts allow injury victims to file a lawsuit for a dog bite. To get compensation, you must show the defendant owned or managed the dog. The dog bit you while in a public place or legally on private property, you suffered harm, and the dog was a factor in causing you harm. California dog bite laws are strict liability, which means you do not need to prove that the owner acted negligently.
For strict liability, the dog owner becomes liable for dog bite injuries and harm when they take possession of the dog. Essentially, the owner is responsible if they own the dog and the dog bites someone. Whether the dog bit someone before or the owner took precautions are irrelevant in strict liability. There are a few exceptions to strict liability. You must work with a dog bite attorney in Orange County to determine how the laws apply to your case.
Children and dog bites
Children are particularly vulnerable to dog bites because they need guidance and protection from dangers. Not only will children suffer injuries more than adults, but they will also suffer permanent, massive, or disfiguring injuries. Dog owners should do everything they can to protect children from dog bites. Owners can say their dog is excellent with children, but all it takes is one incident to change that. For Kids’ Sake has compiled statistics regarding children and dog bites.
Dog owners should know the dangers dogs pose to children, even if they have none in the home. Children between five and nine face the highest incidence of dog attacks, and 79 percent of fatal dog attacks are children. The odds of a dog biting a child are three to one. Facial dog attacks account for 77 percent of attacks in children under 10.
Dog owners can minimize the risks
Before you get a dog, choose the breed wisely. Dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs and should take action to pick and train them appropriately. Dog owners should do some research and speak to a veterinarian or trainer about the work required to care for the dog. Socialization is vital from a young age because dogs should be familiar with being around other dogs and people. The dog should be separated or closely monitored when a child is around.
Ending interactions and correcting behaviors the first time they happen is another essential way to minimize risks. It is wise to have a designated space for the dog if they need to calm down, and never feed the dog in the presence of children. When in public, owners must keep the dog on a leash and ensure they go to all regular veterinary checkups for vaccinations. Ensure The dog gets enough exercise, especially before social events, so they release any energy they can overexert when playing.
Some authorities deem dogs dangerous, but what does that classification mean?
The dog will get legal status, which can involve:
- Potentially dangerous dogs: a dog that, within the previous 36 months, has behaved in a way that requires defensive actions to prevent bodily injury. There must be at least two occasions of these actions. The actions must also occur outside of the dog owner’s property. Dogs who have killed two domestic animals also fall into this classification.
- Vicious dog: any dog who attacks without provocation, causes severe injuries, or kills a human.
- Severe injury: any injury that results in disfiguring lacerations or muscle tears or requires cosmetic surgery or sutures.
- Enclosure: if a dog is deemed dangerous, the owners must have a structure that keeps children out of the area and prevents the dog from escaping.
- Keeping and controlling potentially dangerous dogs: potentially dangerous dogs must be held on the property or leashed when off the property. The owner can keep the dog inside or outside the home but not off the property without supervision.
The county can put down a vicious dog, but a potentially dangerous dog doesn’t have the same outcome. If they have a vicious dog, owners cannot own another dog within three years. Potential dangerous dogs can be removed from the list if they do not exhibit aggressive behaviors for 36 months. Vicious dogs do not have this option.
Dog bite injuries are often permanent and devastating for victims. A variety of injuries can happen from a dog attack, but since dogs use their teeth and often have specific targets, some injuries are more common than others. Dogs often target the head, hands, face, arms, and legs.
Facial injuries are the most common, but other injuries you may have suffered include:
- Nerve damage
- Head trauma
- Tendon damage
- Crush injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Infections to the wound
- Dislocation, fractures, or broken bones
- Severe emotional distress
- Loss of limb or eyes
- Permanent scarring
- Back injuries
- Amputation or avulsion
Many injuries are physical, but the psychological impact of a dog attack is often worse. Emotional and mental anguish will require psychological help like therapy. Post-traumatic stress alters a person’s lifestyle and leaves them with constant fear. Treatment for bodily injuries will vary and has exorbitant costs. Your life has changed, and you need an Orange County dog bite lawyer to pursue compensation.
Dog bites lead to extensive damage to the victim and their family. You have the right to seek compensation to help make you financially whole after the negligence of others. Economic damages are directly related to tangible losses like medical costs.
You can seek past and future losses. Medical expenses are the highest losses you will incur because injuries require extensive treatment. You must also account for future medical expenses. Lost income is also significant since you will miss work to get medical treatments.
The injury has impacted your quality of life, and as we mentioned, the psychological impacts of these attacks can alter your life at the same level or more than a physical injury. Emotional distress can manifest as a constant fear of dogs or social anxiety in public places.
Pain and suffering address the physical and psychological trauma of the injury. These are harder to treat, and you will need psychological help. Even with assistance, these mental injuries can stay with you forever, and you can put them as non-economic damages within your dog bite injury claim.
Responsible parties for dog bites
While strict liability means making the dog owner the primary person responsible for dog attacks, you can name other parties in your legal claim. A dog keeper or caretaker can be liable for the dog’s actions. However, they are not liable under strict liability but by common law. The caretaker must know about the dog’s aggression or if they are negligent in controlling or handling the dog.
Property owners can also be liable for your losses. A residential property owner is typically liable if the dog escapes from the property through a defect like a hole in the fence. Landlords are responsible when they know the tenant’s dog is dangerous and have the right to remove the dog from the premises. Commercial property owners have a duty to their visitors to keep the premises safe. That means they should prevent dogs from entering or staying on the property. Childcare centers and homeowner associations can also be responsible in some instances.
Evaluating your case
Evaluating your own dog bite cases is challenging because, as a victim, you are unsure if you have any legal rights. When you speak to an Orange County dog bite attorney, we will evaluate your case and find options. Every case is unique, and you need a legal opinion on your options.
The first aspect of assessing your case involves looking at the facts such as:
- Where did the attack occur, and if it was on public property
- If you knew the dog and what type it was
- What did you do during and after the attack
- Did you suffer injuries and receive medical attention
Your dog bite lawyer in Orange County will ask these and other questions when evaluating your case. Next, we will see if there are any witnesses to the incident and if they can corroborate your story. Liability and insurance are also vital to your injury claim. The payment you can seek will depend on the defendant’s liability and their available insurance.
A lack of an insurance policy doesn’t mean you cannot file a claim. It will affect how much you can seek. Lastly, we must calculate your losses generated from the injuries.
Work with our dog bite lawyers
Dog bite laws are in place to protect people who suffer injuries from dog bites. It should be straightforward to file an insurance claim and have your medical bills paid for, but that is rarely how the process works. The insurance company does not care about you, so work with our Orange County dog bite lawyers. No case is too small or too big. Your losses are real. Even if you believe it is a minor incident, discuss your options with a dog bite lawyer.
Your dog bite lawyer will handle the claim with the insurance company, not the dog owner. Some people will try to resolve the matter with the dog owner to realize later they are getting nowhere and have wasted so much time a claim seems impossible. Your dog bite attorney knows that insurance covers dog bites and attacks even when they try to pretend they don’t. You should also work with a dog bite lawyer to assess all applicable damages for your claim. You protect yourself and others when you take legal action.
Proving your claim
You will need various types of evidence to prove your injury case. Sometimes, you will require expert witnesses to testify and offer an unbiased opinion on your injuries and how the dog caused them. Bentley & More, LLP, has a vast network of medical experts, so you get the care and proof you need.
Call an Orange County dog bite lawyer today
If you or someone you care for has suffered a dog bite injury, reach out to the Bentley & More, LLP, team for a free consultation. Reach out to a Orange County personal injury lawyer. We have a team of dog-bite lawyers to protect your rights and ensure you know your legal options. If you are an attorney who has a case out of your practice area or needs a referral, Bentley & More, LLP, can help. Call our office at (949) 617-0938 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation.
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Bentley & More LLP – Orange County Office
Phone: (949) 617-0938