Atwater Dog Bite Lawyer

Atwater Dog BiteDogs are considered trusted friends and companions for many people. We know them as man’s best friend. However, well-mannered dogs still have the potential to injure people. When dogs feel angry or scared, they can exhibit some of their most instinctive traits and bite or attack people they come into contact with. While some dog bites or attacks may not be severe in nature, some can lead to catastrophic injuries or even wrongful death. Having an experienced Atwater dog bite attorney at your side in these situations can make the difference. An attorney understands the emotional, physical, and financial impact a dog bite wound can have and can pursue a maximum recovery on the injured person’s behalf.

Which Breed of Dog Bites the Most Often?

While every dog has the potential to attack or bite those they come into contact with, some dog breeds have a history of aggressive or vicious behaviors. These breeds include:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Bulldog
  • Bullmastiff
  • Bull Terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • German Shepherd
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Siberian Husky
How to Avoid a Dog Bite

Understanding how to behave around a dog can help reduce your risk of a serious injury. Following are some safety tips by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on what to do if you come across a stray dog:

  • Stay away from stray or unfamiliar dogs whenever possible
  • If approached by a dog you do not know, remain quiet, do not make eye contact, and avoid making any sudden movements
  • If you are knocked to the ground by a dog, curl into a ball and stay still
  • Do not attempt to break up a fight between two or more dogs
  • Avoid coming into contact with any dog who is nursing, eating or sleeping

For more details on what to do if you are attacked by a dog, watch the below video.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

Substantial evidence must be collected and presented to an insurance company to receive compensation for a dog bite injury. Although liability may be apparent in these cases, some may find themselves dealing with insurance carriers that often use tactics to minimize the value of the claim or deny it altogether. Consider the following steps to protect yourself from medical and legal complications after an animal attack:

  • Identify the dog’s owner and address
  • If you are not sure who owns the dog, try to find out where the pet lives
  • Contact the dog owner and verify whether the animal has a current rabies vaccination, if possible
  • Take pictures of the location where the incident occurred
  • Track down any witnesses
  • Wash the dog bite wound with soap and water to prevent the risk of infection
  • Seek medical attention promptly
  • Document the type and extent of your dog bite injury
  • Collect all medical bills and records associated with the treatment for your trauma
  • Report the animal bite to the Merced County Animal Services
  • Request copies of animal control documentation and police reports
  • Reach out to an experienced injury lawyer before you contact an insurance company to file a claim
Types of Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury

The California dog bite statute provides those who have been wrongfully injured with the opportunity to make themselves whole again after a dog attack. Financial compensation may be awarded to a person who has been injured in an animal attack for any type of trauma suffered, not only from being knocked to the ground but also from the bite itself. Compensation in a personal injury case will take into account economic and non-economic damages such as:

  • Disfigurement for any change of appearance and the cost of plastic surgery to revise the scarring
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Mental anguish and emotional suffering
  • Pain and suffering
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Permanent disability
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death
Who Pays for Dog Bite Claims?

Under California Civil Code Section 3342, the owner of a dog is responsible for any injuries or damages the dog causes. Even if the dog did not have a history of viciousness or aggression to other people and animals, the dog owner would still be responsible for damages incurred. This imposes strict liability on the part of the dog owner. An injured person may recover for their injuries so long as they were lawfully present at the time and place of the attack. The following are the potential areas of recovery in a dog bite case:

  • Homeowners Insurance: Dog bites sustained on the owner’s property will usually be covered by the homeowner’s insurance policy.
  • Renter’s Insurance: When a dog attack occurs at someone’s apartment, a claim can be made against the renter’s insurance policy carried by the tenant. If the tenant does not have such insurance or has insufficient coverage, a case may be made against the landlord. This is possible so long as he or she was aware that the tenant’s dog was dangerous and could have prevented the injury.
  • Car Insurance: If a dog attack occurs through an open vehicle window or near a car, the owner’s auto insurance company may cover the claim.
  • No Insurance: The dog owner will be held financially responsible for the incident if he or she has no insurance policy that covers damages for animal bites. However, this is not always possible unless the owner has independent wealth.
Do I Need Evidence for a Dog Attack Claim?

Compiling tangible evidence is necessary for recovering compensation after a dog attack. Otherwise, the insurer may find ways of devaluing your claim or denying it altogether. Evidence that should be gathered includes photographs of the incident scene and resulting injuries, medical records, incident reports, and eyewitness statements. After collecting evidence and establishing liability, an injured person should reach out to an experienced Atwater dog bite attorney for legal advice. An experienced attorney can discuss the best way on how to proceed with their particular case.

Defenses to a Dog Attack Claim

Not every dog attack or dog bite means that the owner is liable for subsequent losses. Some viable arguments raised by dog owners facing liability for a dog bite claim include:

  • Provocation: This refers to a situation where a dog is provoked, encouraged, or incited into biting or attacking a person. If evidence suggests that an injured person was violent or aggressive toward the dog first, then they cannot recover for their injuries.
  • Trespassing: Some households have dogs to guard their property against trespassers. If an injured person was trespassing on a private party when the dog attack or bite occurred, they might not be able to collect compensation.
California Dog Bite Law FAQ

I was bitten by a dog while I was working. Can I still bring a claim?

There is no way of telling when you may suffer a dog bite at work from an aggressive or scared dog. Workers such as landscapers, garbage collectors, mailmen, or any other person who works near homes face the risk of being attacked or bitten by a dog during their workday. In these cases, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim for a dog bite injury at work. Conversely, a workers’ compensation case cannot be made if the dog bite occurs before or after you are on the clock or on your day off.

How long do I have to file a dog bite claim?

The statute of limitations, or the time for which a person has to file a lawsuit, is two years for a dog bite injury case. This is by California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1. In the case of a child, the statute is tolled or suspended for a specific amount of time. In other words, a minor who turns 18 years old has two years from their birthday to file suit against the owner or keeper of the dog. If this deadline is not met, the injured person will lose the right to pursue a claim and will be left without recourse against the dog owner.

Can I afford an Atwater dog bite injury lawyer for my case?

Most injury attorneys handle personal injury claims on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney will handle the case without requesting any fees upfront. An attorney who works on contingency will be just as dedicated as you are to maximizing the amount of compensation awarded and winning your case. Keep in mind that an attorneys’ fee will only be due if a favorable outcome is obtained in the dog bite injury case.

Dog Bite Attorneys in Atwater

I’m Ed Smith, an Atwater dog bite lawyer. Dog bites can be devastating and often result in the most catastrophic types of injuries on the spectrum. If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, I am here to provide you free, friendly case advice on your situation. Please call me at (209) 227-1931 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400.

Learn more about our law office on Avvo, Google, and Yelp

The Million Dollar Advocates recognizes attorneys who have obtained $1 million or more for a client through a case verdict or settlement. I am a proud member of this forum. I am also honored to belong to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, which reserves membership to attorneys who are believed to exhibit legal excellence in their practice of law.

To learn more about our law firm and prior cases we have handled, go to our Verdicts and Settlements page.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 9.17.20]

Image Source: By "freegr," "claimaccident1," and "free-photos" via Pixabay

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