Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4 million Americans are bitten or otherwise injured by dogs. If not treated properly and immediately, dog bites can result in nerve injuries, physical disfigurement, and a range of diseases. Trauma is also a frequent consequence. And sadly, children from the ages of five to nine are the most common victims of dog bites. If a dog bites you or a loved one or causes injury in some other way, can you recover damages from the dog’s owner? In California, generally the answer is yes.
When a dog bites a person in California, by law the dog’s owner is “strictly liable.” In other words, even if a dog has never been considered dangerous, courts may compel the dog’s owner to compensate a bite victim for medical expenses and more. In order to be awarded damages, a plaintiff must prove: a) that an injury was actually inflicted and suffered; b) that the defendant is legally the dog’s owner; and c) that the plaintiff was injured on publicly open property, or on private property with real or implied permission, and was not trespassing.
If a dog bite occurs, seek medical attention immediately. If the dog exhibits rabies symptoms, or if it can’t be located, your doctor may order a series of rabies vaccinations. Immediately after seeking and receiving medical attention, it’s imperative to contact a personal injury attorney. With an experienced personal injury lawyer working for you, you may be awarded compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and more. Always make and keep copies of any legal, medical, or insurance paperwork related to any dog bite case. Make sure to have photographs taken of your injuries. A personal injury attorney will assess your situation and advise you regarding how to proceed with your case.