Dog bite lawyer in Orange County, California
Bitten by a Dog? Speak to Our Dog Bite Injury Lawyers
Dog bite incidents are more common than most people think. They are painful and can cause lasting harm. Dog owners are responsible for the behavior of their pets. They must do everything in their power to prevent them from lashing out at people.
If you have suffered a dog bite injury, then you must take immediate and decisive action. You will probably need to involve a lawyer. A professional, qualified attorney will ensure that you get the money you need and deserve after the incident. Whether you are a proud dog owner, understanding state laws on ownership can be useful to you. Preventative measures should always be taken to prevent an accidental situation from happening.
California’s Stance on Dog Bites
California is one of many states that enforce a strict civil code regarding dog bites. If you were bitten, affected, or faced with a direct legal claim it is important to know how dog bites are legally classified.
- Breed (type of dog)
Dog bite rulings are determined by how severe the wound is – whether small, moderate to life-threatening. For example, if the dog’s teeth puncture or graze your skin without completely breaking through, it is considered as a “bite.” The second legal factor is the breed of the domesticated pet. Dogs breeds with a history of being vicious are susceptible to being categorized and cross referenced. Examples of dangerous dog breeds include:
- Pit bulls
- German Shepherd
- American Bulldog
- Siberian Husky
Dog bite lawyer Orange County, California
First Things First—What to do After a Dog Bite Incident
- Go to the hospital
You must go to the hospital or Urgent Care. You are not a doctor and are not qualified to assess the seriousness of a dog bite injury. You must put yourself into the care of those who can examine the wound, determine its severity, and provide the proper treatment. Even a minor bite can lead to an infection that spreads to other parts of your body. There is also the possibility of contracting rabies or tetanus.Tetanus is more uncommon, unless the bite involves bacteria from soil or other environmental elements. Rabies can appear with flu like symptoms, like:
If you have, or suspect you may have tetanus symptoms may be:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Pain in muscle movements
- Difficulties swallowing or breaching
- Lock jaw
- File a police and animal control report
You must report the incident to the police and animal control. Once you have done so, they will have to investigate. Reporting the incident will leave a documentary trail, which will make it much easier for you to hold the dog owner accountable.
- Photograph the wound
You should take pictures of the wound while it is fresh. If you were with friends and family when the incident occurred, have them do it. You may also be able to press the medical personnel to photograph the injury before they treat and bandage it.
- Speak with a lawyer
You will need to speak to a lawyer, preferably one that has dealt with dog bite cases before. You should do this before you talk to anyone else, including the dog owner’s insurance company.
The One-Bite Rule
The one-bite rule declares owners of domesticated animals are liable on public or private premises if the defendant knew of their pet’s dangerous past and tendencies to engage aggressively. In court, past actions exhibited will be reviewed. The one-bite rule can make filing a claim complicated. Not only does the injured person(s) have to show photographic or physical evidence of the wound, but also prove the owner had knowledge. While other states follow this policy, California does not enforce it.
Dog bite victims do not have to prove the owner was negligent of their pet’s aggressive behavior or had previous knowledge of behaving dangerously. That means owners are at risk of getting sued based on other factors like the type of attack, severity, if preventative measures were taken.
Dog Owners And Responsibility
All dog owners know that they are ultimately responsible for the behavior of their pets. Some act; accordingly, others do not. Each state has laws governing a pet owner’s responsibility.
Some states have leash laws. In such jurisdictions, a dog must be one a leash when it is not on the owner’s property.
Dog bites are not always reactionary. If they are uncertain, or sense danger they may respond by acting in self-defense. Not all dogs will bite – others may pounce on you, aggressively pull at your personal belongings, or scratch your exposed skin. You can still file a claim, classified under dog bites, for compensation. This is not a normal occurrence – so if this happens to you, it could be because of an owner’s carelessness.
Canines with wandering curiosity are prone to finding alternative ways to leave the house. Preventative measures that can be taken are as follows:
- Neuter your dog, as hormones can increase the need to roam
- Fix any holes or gaps in your fence to prevent your dog from escaping. Poor containment can be evidence against you if an accident takes place.
- Try to take your dog out periodically throughout the day, as he/she can exert pent up energy
- Set boundaries and rules for your furry companion to learn when outside
- Train your dog in an obedience class to ensure interactions with other people and animals are safe. It will improve communication.
- Make sure all domesticated animals you own are vaccinated and leashed when appropriate
- If your dog is mixed with a breed associated as “aggressive” or “dangerous” , display cautionary dog signs in front of your home.
Most states mandate that dogs receive vaccinations. A dog owner who does not have their pet immunized will be liable for all illnesses and diseases that result from a bite. There are also states that have strict laws on breeding. Pit bulls are the most regulated breed. Every dog owner should know the breed-specific laws in their state.
Establishing Liability in a Dog Bite Case
Determining who is liable for your injuries is one of the most important tasks of a personal injury lawyer. This can be done in several ways. Your lawyer can invoke strict liability, which will hold the dog owner liable for all damages caused by their dog as long as it was not provoked. There is also the one-bite rule in which dog owners are held liable for injuries caused by their animal if they have reason to believe it is dangerous.
Establishing liability is not always easy. The dog owner may refuse to acknowledge responsibility for the incident or the injury. If that is the case, your lawyer will need to investigate the matter to prove that the incident happened and that the owner you have identified is responsible.
The investigator will contact people who witnessed the incident to get their statements. It is also possible for your lawyer to get the court to order DNA samples from the dog. If they match the dog DNA in your wound, then you will have proved the veracity of your claim.
While helpful, the laws in place can also limit the success of your case. California laws regarding canine-related injuries are based on the location where it occurred.
If you were bitten on a public or “lawfully” private property your case will be handled differently. More specifically “lawfully private properties” are locations where a public or civil servant is at work.
An example of an attack on lawfully private property is an engagement between a mail carrier and domesticated animal. When the postal service worker is on your property, the risk associated with weakening your claim, as an owner, is high if your dog bites him/her. Though it can get complicated, your lawyer will guide you in the right legal direction.
Similarly, if you were injured by a vicious dog, you may be unable to sue if it was an official military or police dog. In this particular situation the dog must be assisting law enforcement work, such as protecting or defending. Assessment per case will vary. The legal proceeding can be complex and nuanced, subject to change at any time. At Accident Lawyers Firm, we provide a guide including civil codes, laws or policies that may be applicable toward your claim.
What Dog Owners Should Expect
As a dog owner, you will be responsible for answering questions pertaining to your role. Lawyers, insurance companies, legal enforcement must rule out that you do not engage in animal abuse, such as:
- Neglecting your pet by leaving him/her in the house for days on end
- Subjecting your dog to extremely hot or cold conditions
- Hitting, abusing harming
- Not providing food or water
Such actions can change a dog’s behavior, to match the living conditions. As the defendant you can negate accusations against you by proving your dog was acting in self-defense or your pet obtained training certifications.
In addition to reaching a settlement for the plaintiff, the court will adjudicate the dispute. The ruling will require the dog owner to take action that corrects their pet’s behavior. Almost like a warning sign – as the consequences become more severe if it happens again. It depends on the nature of the attack, and whether the victim was an innocent bystander or trespassing on your property. If the court deems your dog’s actions or behavior are irreversible, he/she will be relocated or euthanized by animal control. Extreme action is only taken when pets cause life-threatening injuries or death.
As the victim, it would not be wise to injure or kill someone else’s dog. A cat, dog, bird, or other domestic animal is considered personal property. Engaging in such actions may put you at risk of compensating the dog owner, although their pet put you in harm’s way. Animal cruelty is a serious offense that also results in jail time, but there are certain exceptions to the rule.
In California, Penal Code 597 PC makes it a crime for any person to kill with hateful intent, harm or torture an animal. It protects:
- Domesticated pets
- Stray animals
- Wild animals
- Farm animals
If charged as a misdemeanor or felony, said person would be required to carry a sentence of up to three years in jail or prison. Misdemeanor is a punishment for up to one year. Whereas a felony is the full three-year sentence.
Most animal cruelty laws make it a crime to inflict pain on any animal without reason or justification. While self-defense might seem like the right choice at the time of the accident, it is best to air on the side of caution. An example of injuring a domesticated pet without reason is, shooting canine’s due to frequent barking or strolling along your property. When you hire an attorney, you must answer questions to clarify if it was necessary to kill. Evidence should support each statement to prove immediate threat of serious injury had actions not been taken.
Paths to Justice For Injured Person(s)
The best dog bite injury lawyers know how to get money for their clients without dragging things out for too long. Your lawyer will seek to negotiate with the dog owner and their insurance company. They will primarily seek economic and non-economic damages.
The economic damages they will demand include money for:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
The non-economic damages they will demand include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Trauma and emotional distress
Dog bite injury lawyers will only push for a trial if the other side refuses to offer a reasonable settlement or acts in bad faith. If you need to go to trial, your lawyer will ensure that the facts and evidence are on your side. They will be able to make the case to the jury that the respondent was negligent and that this negligence did great harm to your health.