Dog Bite Lawyer in Los Angeles
According to the American Veterinary Association, dogs are a cherished part of approximately 38.4% of U.S. households. Every year, a small percentage of these pets bite and injure people: an estimated 800,000 dog bite victims require medical attention. At least half of those injured by dogs are children, who may face a lifelong fear of dogs.
When this occurs, the physical, emotional, and financial repercussions on the victim’s life can be dramatic, compelling them to hire a dog bite attorney in Los Angeles. An experienced attorney can help prepare injured individuals for what to expect at each stage of the legal process and ensure that they present the strongest possible claim for monetary compensation.
At Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP, we are committed to helping those who have been injured by dangerous dogs. In California, if you have sustained a serious dog bite injury, you may be entitled to compensation, so call our law office for a free initial consultation.
Dog Bite Liability in California
Unlike some other states, California does not observe the ‘one bite rule’ when it comes to dog bite cases. Under California Civil Code 3342, which is the ‘bite statute,’ a dog owner is strictly responsible for any injuries caused by their dog, even if the animal has never bitten anyone or shown a history of aggression and the owner took all necessary precautions to prevent an animal attack. This is known as strict liability.
This bite law applies to bites that occur in public or anywhere that the attack victim had a lawful right to be, such as a visitor on the owner’s property. It does not apply if:
- It is not the owner who is being sued
- The victim trespassed on the owner’s property
- The dog was a law enforcement animal on duty
- The victim was partially to blame for their injuries
- The victim assumed the risk of being bitten (e.g. a veterinarian)
If one of these exceptions applies, dog bite victims cannot hold the owner liable under the doctrine of strict liability. However, they may still be able to seek financial compensation for their emotional and physical injuries by proving the owner was negligent. This includes proving that the owner knew or should have known that their dog was dangerous due to a past bite.
Compensation in a Dog Bite Attack
When you file an animal bite lawsuit, you may recover maximum compensation for all of your losses. This includes economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages if you had to take time off of work, and non-economic damages, like emotional trauma and permanent disfigurement.
Among the types of compensation you can recover in a legal claim are:
- Medical treatment costs for broken bones, nerve damage, lacerations, and other injuries
- Future medical expenses
- Treatments like physical therapy and psychology visits for mental trauma
- Lost wages
- Loss of income if you are left disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
Under certain circumstances, California allows dog bite victims to recover punitive damages, which are intended to punish an especially negligent or malicious defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.
For example, if the owner unlawfully ordered the dog to attack you or was negligent in controlling a dog with known aggressive tendencies, you may be awarded punitive damages. Your Los Angeles personal injury lawyer may pursue this option if it applies to your dog bite case.
What Should I Do If I Have Suffered a Dog Bite?
When a dog attacks you, you’re likely to be frightened and possibly traumatized, but there are steps you can take to protect your right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Get the dog owner’s contact information, such as name, address, and phone number.
- Obtain the contact information of anyone who witnessed the dog bite or dog attack. When filing an insurance claim or lawsuit, witness accounts will help you build a clear picture of what happened.
- Contact law enforcement to file a dog bite report. Animal control could investigate the incident as well, providing you with additional documentation.
- See a doctor as soon as possible for medical care. Infections caused by dog bites can require antibiotic treatment. Those with liver disease, diabetes, and illnesses suppressing the immune system may be at greater risk for severe infections. A medical report is also an important piece of evidence in a dog bite claim.
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. At Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP, our legal team has handled many dog bite cases for clients and can help you build a strong case for maximum compensation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
Under California law, a dog bite or other canine-related injury is considered a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations for most claims in California is two years. A dog bite lawsuit must therefore be filed within two years of the date when the bite occurred, or you may lose your right to claim compensation.
This is why it’s so important to file an action in a timely manner. A Los Angeles dog bite attorney at our law firm will help you identify the at-fault party, collect the necessary evidence, and file a bite injury claim before the window of opportunity closes.
Is a Landlord Liable If a Tenant’s Dog Bites Me?
You’re visiting a friend in an apartment complex when another tenant’s dog attacks and leaves you with severe lacerations. Can you hold the landlord responsible?
California case law suggests that it’s possible under certain circumstances. In Uccello v. Laudenslayer (1975), the court found that a landlord could be held liable for a tenant’s dog if they knew about the animal and its dangerous propensities but did nothing to have it removed. In Donchin v. Guerrero (1995), the court found that if a dog escapes the landlord’s property due to defects like a broken fence, the landlord is liable for off-site injuries. Your Los Angeles dog bite attorney will advise you whether a landlord is a potential defendant in your case.
Why Should I Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer?
If the negligent dog owner has homeowners insurance or renters insurance, their insurer will investigate your bite claim. While some companies make a fair settlement offer, many do not, and without fully understanding the value of your damages, you may accept less than what you need and deserve, especially if you’re recovering from a severe injury.
Moreover, many homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies have a cap on dog bite coverage. Taking legal action against the dog’s owner may be necessary if your medical costs exceed this threshold. A dog bite attorney at Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP will negotiate with the insurance company for an amount that reflects your losses and pursue additional legal action against the liable party if necessary.
Speak to an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
When an aggressive dog leaves you with serious and even disfiguring physical injuries, you shouldn’t suffer alone. You deserve a compassionate advocate who will protect your interests and give you legal advice you can trust. To speak to an experienced attorney at Moaddel Kremer & Gerome LLP, contact our law firm today.
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