Fresno Dog Bite Lawyer
Dogs usually bite the extremities but can also bite the torso, neck, and face. Facial injuries from dog attacks are typically difficult for physicians to treat and can cause lasting scarring and emotional suffering as well. Some of the other serious injuries associated with a dog bite include:
- Bone Fractures
- Crush Injuries
- Cuts or Lacerations
- Emotional Distress
- Head Trauma
- Ligament or Tendon Damage
- Nerve Damage
- Puncture Wounds
- Scarring and Other Forms of Disfigurement
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Tissue Loss
Of the 60 different kinds of bacteria in a dog’s mouth, only a few are harmful to humans. Following are the types of medical conditions caused by infected dog bites:
- Capnocytophaga: This bacteria often causes infection after a dog bite in those with a weak immune system.
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA): A bacteria that causes infections in the skin, lungs, and urinary tract as well as other severe symptoms.
- Pasteurella: This is a bacteria that causes a red infection at the site of the injury. It is usually painful for those infected as it can also cause joints and glands to swell up.
- Rabies: This type of bacteria affects the brain and often proves fatal in some cases. After being bitten, it is crucial to verify whether a dog has been vaccinated or not.
- Clostridium Tetani: If an infected dog bite is not treated immediately, the bacteria from tetanus can result in fatal paralysis.
Every dog has the potential to attack or bite those they may know. However, dog breeds with a history of biting include the following:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Australian Shepherd
- Bull Terrier
- Chow Chow
- Cocker Spaniel
- Dogo Argentino
- German Shepherd
- Great Dane
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Lhaso Apso
- Siberian Husky
Knowing why dog bites happen is essential. Following are some common reasons why a dog bites:
- Ask for Permission to Pet a Dog: When encountering a new dog, be sure to ask the owners first if it is okay to approach the dog. If the answer is yes, let the dog approach you slowly and smell your hand before petting them. For small dogs, introduce yourself by holding your hand in a cup. Extend your hand in a relaxed manner when meeting large dogs. Do not touch a dog when they are not expecting it or reach over their head to pet them. They may perceive this as a threat.
- Learn the Warning Signs: Dogs can communicate with us in many ways. Learning their body language can help you understand the warning signs that may indicate whether they will attack or bite. Avoid making eye contact with a dog or approaching one that is outside of their comfort zone. When a dog is stressed out, they may flatten their ears back, bare their teeth, growl, stare, or tense their body up.
- Do Not Run from an Aggressive Dog: Do not make eye contact when approaching a dog that seems to be tense. Instead, slowly step back. If a dog attack happens, do not move. Try to stand very still. While doing so, lower your head, hold your hands in front of you, and look at your feet. Wait quietly until help arrives or until the dog goes away.
- Avoid the Bite: If a dog looks like it is going to attack you, place an object between you and the dog. This can create a new target for the attack and further protect you from harm's way.
There are specific actions one must take to protect both their legal rights and health after being bitten by a dog. These include:
- Seek medical attention. Regardless of how minor or severe your injuries seem to be, it is essential to receive medical treatment immediately. Puncture wounds from dog bites often result in scarring, laceration, and broken bones. Since they may also transmit disease and bacteria, seeking prompt medical treatment is essential.
- Identify the owner of the dog that injured you. This will be important later as these details will be needed to file a claim for damages.
- Report the incident to the Fresno County Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division. Include as much information about the incident as possible such as the breed and description of the dog that bit you and the date, time, and location where the attack occurred.
- Contact law enforcement as soon as possible. You will want to file a report with the police regarding the attack. When submitting a report, be sure to include identifying information about the dog as well as the names of all witnesses to the incident.
- Request a copy of the incident report from officials. After filing a report with the proper agency, inform authorities you would like a copy of the incident report upon completion. Make sure to take down the names and contact information of the responding officers.
- Contact an experienced attorney. Discussing the facts and details of your case with an experienced dog bite lawyer in Fresno is crucial. This is the best way to ensure that your best interests and rights are protected in a dog bite claim.
For useful tips on how to survive a dog attack, view the following video.Can I Claim Personal Injury Compensation for a Dog Bite?
There are two types of recoverable damages in a dog bite claim that are intended to make an injured person feel whole again. Those two types are economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are concrete expenses such as:
- Medical Expenses: The cost of past and future medical treatment that is necessary and reasonable may be recovered. All forms of medical care such as physical therapy, hospital stays, chiropractic care, diagnostic testing, and other medical expenses are recoverable.
- Wage Loss: A dog bite can result in physical and emotional trauma for an injured person. If the bite causes an infection, the injured party may need to miss time at work to recover. Conversely, if a dog bite causes a scar or disfigurement, cosmetic surgery may be necessary to improve the appearance of the scarring. This may also require time taken off from work since they can be extremely painful to recover from. When this happens, any earnings lost due to an injury including any commissions, bonuses, and other wages may be claimed.
- Loss of Earning Potential: If a dog bite results in permanent impairment or disability, the loss of future earning capacity may be recovered. An economist is often needed to calculate this type of damage as they vary from case to case.
- Property Damage: If the personal property was damaged in a dog attack such as clothes, watches, or glasses, the injured party may seek reimbursement for the replacement of those items.
Non-economic damages are those with intangible harms including:
- Disfigurement: A dog bite may result in permanent disfigurement or scarring. Placing a value on a scar from a dog bite can be difficult as it depends on various factors. These include the age and gender of the individual and the severity and location of the scar. For instance, if a dog bites a person in the face and leaves a scar, he or she may receive more in compensation than a scar that is in a covered area of the body like the ankle. Compensation for a disfigurement considers the costs of cosmetic surgery to minimize the appearance of the scarring as well as the emotional harm caused by the unsightly mark.
- Loss of Consortium: When a dog bite injury is so severe that it causes damage to the marital relationship, the injured party and/or their spouse may be able to seek compensation for the loss of society, conjugal fellowship, affection, sexual impairment or dysfunction. The inability to conceive children may also be considered. This type of loss can be quantified by an experienced Fresno dog bite attorney.
- Pain and Suffering: This type of damage is difficult to calculate as it depends on how the dog bite or attack affected the injured party. An experienced injury attorney can help show the physical and emotional impact of the injury by presenting medical expert witness testimonies. This can help prove the effects of pain and suffering to obtain a favorable outcome on your behalf.
Under California Civil Code 3342, a dog owner can be held financially responsible for any damages suffered if the bite occurred while the injured person was lawfully on private property or in a public place. The owner can be held liable regardless of whether the dog has or does not have a history of aggression under California law. This makes it easier for injured parties to seek compensation as they must prove the dog attacked or bit them without provocation.How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Case in California?
Under California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, an injured person has two years from the date of a dog bite or attack or file a claim for personal injury. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. For a minor, the statute is “tolled” or suspended for a period until he or she reaches 18 years of age. From that date, that person has two years to file a personal injury claim for a dog bite. Those with concerns or questions about filing a dog bite claim should reach out to an experienced dog bite attorney in Fresno to understand what legal options they have for recovery.Why Would You Need a Lawyer for a Dog Bite?
No matter how careful someone is around a dog, there is always the chance of a bite or attack. Anyone suffering an injury from a dog bite or attack should contact an experienced injury lawyer. An attorney can help an injured party obtain a fair recovery from insurance companies who often handle dog bite cases with contempt and scorn.Dog Bite Injury FAQ
Who pays for dog bites in a personal injury claim?
The homeowner’s or renter's insurance policy of the dog owner typically pays for subsequent damages in a dog bite case. Under certain circumstances, automobile insurance may apply if the dog bite occurs within close proximity of a car. However, liability coverage may be excluded by some insurance companies for specific dog breeds. If the dog owner does not have any of the above insurances, the injured person may seek compensation from the owner directly. This is not possible in all cases unless the dog owner has independent wealth.
How do I pay for an attorney in a dog bite case?
Most personal injury attorneys handle cases on a contingent fee basis. This means no fees are due upfront. An attorneys’ fee is only to be paid if the case is resolved in your favor.Dog Bite Lawyers in Fresno
I’m Ed Smith, a Fresno dog bite lawyer. Under California law, a dog owner can be held financially responsible for any injuries and damages resulting from a dog bite in a public or private place. If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog and suffered serious injuries as a result, please call me at (559) 377-7676 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 to receive my free, friendly case advice.
The National Association of Distinguished Counsel is an invitation-only organization that is limited to fewer than 1 percent of attorneys nationwide. The attorneys who are invited to join are deemed to uphold high standards of legal excellence. I also belong to the Million Dollar Advocates, a group for trial lawyers who have won $1 million or more for a client.
A list of some of the cases our law firm has handled is available for your review on our Verdicts and Settlements page.
Photo by Makarand Sawant from Pexels
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 5.8.20]