Sacramento Dog Bite Lawyer
Dogs are beloved by many people for a variety of reasons. They are loyal and affectionate and provide companionship and unconditional love. Dogs are known for their playful and friendly nature, and they can bring joy and laughter to their owners' lives. They are also excellent protectors and can provide a sense of security and safety in the home. Dogs are intelligent animals and can be trained to perform various tasks, from assisting people with disabilities to serving as police or military dogs. Additionally, owning a dog has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving cardiovascular health, and providing opportunities for exercise and socialization.
While dogs are generally known for their friendly and playful nature, some dogs can bite under certain circumstances. Dogs may bite when they feel threatened, scared, cornered or when protecting their territory or owner. Additionally, dogs may bite when they are in pain or sick. It's vital for dog owners to understand their dog's behavior and to properly socialize and train them to prevent aggressive tendencies. Similarly, people must know how to interact with dogs safely and respectfully to avoid provoking or threatening them. While not all dogs bite, taking precautions around unfamiliar dogs or dogs exhibiting signs of aggression is essential to prevent injury or harm.
Table of Content
- Handling Dog Bite Injury Cases
- How To Tell if a Dog Bite is Serious
- National Statistics on Dog Bite Injuries
- Common Types of Injuries from Dog Bites
- Average Hospital Cost of a Dog Bite Injury
- What To Do After a Dog Bite Incident
- Dog Breeds Most Likely to Bite
- Top Reasons Dogs Get Aggressive
- How to Prevent Dog Attacks
- California Law on Dog Bite Incidents
- Damages Recoverable in a Dog Bite Injury Case
No one expects to be bitten or attacked by a dog. However, if you were seriously injured in a dog bite incident in the Sacramento area, contact our law firm at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
Our Sacramento law firm has handled dog bite injury cases since 1982. We have the experience, resources, and skills to prove your compensation case. Our injury lawyers know how to overcome any challenges presented in your case by complex insurance companies and defense counsel. Contact us to speak to one of our attorneys regarding your potential personal injury case.How To Tell if a Dog Bite is Serious
Dog bites can cause serious injuries, including permanent scarring, disfigurement, psychological trauma, and death. While rabies is one of the most severe complications from animal attacks, skin infections are more common.
If you were attacked or bitten by a dog and have questions regarding your case, contact our Sacramento personal injury law office to schedule a free consultation. Our dog bite attorneys in Sacramento are available anytime to review your case and provide free, friendly advice on moving forward with a claim for financial compensation.National Statistics on Dog Bite Injuries
- Incidence of Dog Bites: About 4.7 million Americans a year are bitten by dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in five dog bites results in injuries serious enough for medical attention. More than 29,000 reconstructive surgeries related to dog bites are performed annually.
- Dog Attacks by Breed: According to a 2019 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) report, the most likely to bite were those weighing between 66 and 100 pounds and with broad, short heads. Across all studies, the breed responsible for the highest dog bite reports was Pit Bulls at 22.5 percent, mixed breeds at 21.2 percent, and German Shepherds at 17.8 percent. Breeds with a lower relative risk of attacking or biting were Akita and Great Dane.
- Liability Claims: The Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that homeowner's insurance liability claims related to dog-related injuries in 2020 cost insurers $854 million. California has the highest liability claims associated with dog bites in the United States, with 2,103 that year.
Dog bites sometimes result in disfigurement, infections, or scars. Dogs often target the face, an area susceptible to scarring and disfigurement. They also target the genital area of boys stooped low near or over the dog.
- Scarring - This is very common due to dog bites, especially if there are stitches. Bites and face scarring are common, and it's difficult to tell whether a scar will heal. Some bites look bad initially but improve after six months and may not need further treatment. On the other hand, severe bites and scarring may not improve much, especially if the bite is on the face or other prominent areas.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Someone bitten by a dog may suffer from PTSD. A person might feel agitated, anxious, nervous, withdrawn, depressed, fearful, and even have nightmares after a dog bite.
- Rabies Shots - If the dog cannot be identified and tested, the injured person must undergo a series of six rabies shots. Treatment must start soon to prevent rabies, or the disease can lead to death.
- Head or Brain Injuries - These injuries can occur if the dog bites the victim's head or if the victim hits their head on a hard object while trying to fend off the attack. Head injuries can be as simple as a bump or as severe as a fractured skull or brain injury causing permanent disability.
- Broken Bones and Crush Injuries - When a dog attacks, bone fractures may result if the victim is knocked to the ground or falls when fleeing the attacking dog. The powerful jaws of some dogs can cause bone-crushing injuries even when the skin is not broken because of clothing protection. Dog bites cause 18 deaths per year in the United States.
- Facial and Eye injuries - Children often have facial fractures, most commonly of the nasal bone. The larger the dog, the higher the risk of a facial fracture.
- Genital Injuries - Penis injuries are common for boys under 7 years old.
- Infections - Often, when children are bitten, the wounds become infected. The risks of infections increase when there is a delay in treatment.
A dog bite-related hospital stay costs $18,200, approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay. There were four times as many dog bite-related emergency room visits and three times as many hospitals in rural areas compared to urban areas. It's unusual, but most serious dog bites occur in rural areas rather than big cities.What To Do After a Dog Bite Incident
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, there are essential steps you must take to protect yourself:
- Get Medical Treatment: The first thing you should do after getting attacked by a dog is seek immediate medical care. The type of treatment you will receive varies depending on the severity of your injury. Most importantly, clean the wound out thoroughly to prevent infection.
- Identify the Owner of the Dog: Depending on the circumstances of the incident, it may be necessary to have law enforcement involved to seek the dog owner's identity. Taking this step is critical in the personal injury claims process. The owner generally has insurance that may cover damages incurred, such as a homeowner's or renter's policy.
- Report the Incident: File a dog bite report with the Sacramento County Department of Animal Care or another local animal control agency. Investigation of the incident does not necessarily mean the dog will be impounded by county officials. It may only mean that licenses and vaccinations for the dog must be verified by public health and safety agencies.
- Document Your Injuries: Take pictures of injuries, wounds, and bruises after a dog attack. Having medical records and photographs of dog bite injuries will document your medical history and prove the severity of the trauma. Photos are essential in a bodily injury claim as they help paint a picture of what happened.
- Contact a Personal Injury Attorney: California's rules and regulations regarding animal and dog owner liability are often challenging to navigate on your own. Dealing with the damages associated with your case and liability laws can get complex quickly, and working with an experienced injury lawyer can help simplify the process. Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys offer free case evaluations for animal bite claims.
While any dog can potentially bite if it feels threatened or frightened, some breeds are more likely to bite than others. Here are some of the dog breeds that are known to be more prone to biting:
- Pit Bulls - Pit bulls are known for their strong jaws and high energy and are responsible for a disproportionate number of reported dog bites.
- Rottweilers - Rottweilers are loyal and protective dogs, but they can be aggressive if they perceive a threat to their family or territory.
- German Shepherds - German Shepherds are intelligent and trainable dogs, but their protective instincts can lead them to be aggressive toward strangers.
- Chihuahuas - Although they are small, Chihuahuas can be very territorial and may nip or bite to protect their space.
- Jack Russell Terriers - Jack Russell Terriers are known for their high energy and can become aggressive if not properly trained and socialized.
- Siberian Huskies - Huskies were bred to be working dogs and can become bored and destructive if not given enough exercise, leading to aggression.
- Alaskan Malamutes - Like Huskies, Malamutes are strong-willed working dogs that require plenty of exercise and training to prevent aggressive behavior.
It's important to note that a dog's breed is not the only factor that determines its likelihood to bite. A dog's upbringing, socialization, and temperament also play a significant role. Owners should know their dog's behavior and take appropriate measures to prevent biting incidents.Top Reasons Dogs Get Aggressive
Understanding why dog bites occur can prevent them from happening at all. Some of the most common reasons a dog attacks include the following:
- Possessiveness - This aggression is directed towards people or other animals when a dog protects its property, whether its home, owner, bone, toy, or food.
- Fear - Dogs can bite when they are scared or have been startled. If approached too quickly by someone or a stranger, a dog can bite suddenly and without warning if it feels threatened.
- Pain - If a dog isn't feeling well or is in pain, it likely wants to be left alone. Pain can cause even the friendliest of dogs to become snippy or bite.
- Maternal Instincts - If a female dog has puppies, its maternal instinct will become apparent, and she will want to protect them.
- Prey-Driven Instincts - This is when a dog with a strong prey drive unacceptably acts on its urges. Prey dog behaviors are chasing, pouncing, pulling, shaking, and carrying. Typically, this type of aggression gets triggered when the dog sees someone jogging, cycling, or running.
Training is an essential duty for all dog owners. The process can be started at any age since dogs can always learn. It can help provide mental stimulation, build confidence, and strengthen animal-human relationships. All these aspects are essential for pet owners to prevent their dogs from attacking others.
Remember to teach your children these basic safety steps when meeting other dogs:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Always ask an adult before you pet a dog.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Remain still when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping or eating.
- Do not tease a dog.
- Do not run from a dog or scream.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog that is not on a leash.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
Dogs in California are required to be vaccinated, but many are not. A bite victim who has to submit to rabies treatment can base a cause of action on the fact that the attacking dog was over four months old when it bit the plaintiff and had not been vaccinated against rabies.
The primary statute specifying responsibility for dog bites in California is set out below:
- Civil Code section 3342 - The dog owner is responsible for injuries suffered by anyone who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private home, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. There are exceptions to California law regarding dog bites, such as trespassing or provoking the dog. However, the owner is usually responsible for all damages when a dog bites or attacks.
- Sacramento County Code - No California dog leash law applies statewide. The Sacramento County (and other County) Codes have additional requirements that bear the responsibility for dogs and dog bites. For example, in Sacramento County, dogs must always be on leashes. If a dog is not on a leash and bites someone, that is usually negligence per se under this code. In every case, the Sacramento dog bite attorney should check on the County Codes where the animal attack occurred because they may impose greater legal consequences than the California Civil Code.
- Landlord Liability - A landlord can be responsible if their tenant's dog bites someone. The landlord knew of the dog's aggressiveness before the attack and could have removed it before it bit someone. Note that just because a bite occurred by a dog in a rented property or apartment, there is no strict liability as in Civil Code Section 3342 above. The landlord must have had actual notice that the dog was vicious and failed to take action to hold him responsible. There must be knowledge and a time when the landlord could have removed the dog from the premises even if he needed to evict the tenant. For example, a commercial landlord, the landlord of a store owner, must inspect his property and remove dangerous conditions.
- Liability of Day Care Centers - Owners of daycare centers often tries to have the parents sign a release of liability if a dog bites a child in the daycare center. California law does not recognize such releases as valid.
- Liability for Injuries - If the owner has known a dog to jump on people or be overly playful, someone injured in this situation can usually recover from their injuries.
If the person was bitten because they provoked the dog, that might be a defense against a dog bite action. However, a child under five in California cannot be prevented from recovery because of provocation. If you have questions regarding your potential claim, contact an experienced dog bite lawyer in Sacramento for a free consultation.Damages Recoverable in a Dog Bite Injury Case
Homeowner's insurance is the most common policy to cover damages in a dog bite injury claim. Auto insurance may apply, mainly if the bite occurs near or around a motor vehicle. Sometimes renter's insurance may have a renter's policy.
Insurance coverage may apply if a commercial landlord or apartment complex is involved, but it depends on the factual situation. As discussed earlier in this article, a landlord might only be responsible if they knew the dog was vicious.
Many people are bitten by a dog belonging to someone they know, and it may be awkward to sue your friend or relative. Fortunately, most animal attack cases are filed with the dog owner's homeowner's or renter's insurance rather than against the pet owner. Some breeds, such as Pit Bull or Rottweiler, may be excluded from the policy.
If the dog owner does not have insurance, there is a slim chance of recovery for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An injured party may still take legal action against the pet owner without liability insurance. However, there is often no way to collect compensation unless the dog owner has independent wealth.
Many factors are involved in handling a dog bite claim in California. The video below explains why hiring an injury lawyer for your dog bite case is essential.Sacramento Dog Bite FAQ
Who is most at risk of a dog bite injury?
Everyone is at risk for a dog bite, but children are the most common victims of severe dog bites causing injury. The elderly population is also at risk of suffering damage from being attacked or bitten by a dog. Males are bitten much more than females, and people with dogs in their homes have a higher risk of a person getting bitten. Almost half of all dog bites involve a family or neighbor's dog.
Is there a time limit to file a suit on dog attack cases?
The time limit for the suit is two years in California, and this period is usually extended for a minor, known as tolling. However, the statute may not be tolled in some personal injury dog bite cases. So even if there is an injury to a child, it is best to consult with a top-rated dog bite attorney in Sacramento immediately.
Have you or a family member been injured by a dog? Dog bite injuries can cause severe infections, damage, and even death. At AutoAccident.com, our California personal injury attorneys understand how traumatic it can be to suffer from a dog bite. We believe those responsible for your injuries should be liable for their actions.
Our legal team has handled numerous animal attack cases in Sacramento County and throughout Northern California since 1982. We are available anytime to provide free, friendly advice on how to bring a personal injury claim for compensation.
Call us today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for a free and friendly consultation with one of our experienced Sacramento dog bite lawyers.
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Editor's Note: updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 5.3.23]
Photo by Yohan Cho on Unsplash [cs 2978]