If you or someone you know has recently been bitten by a dog and plans to pursue a dog bite injury case, it is important to take into account these considerations:
- Under California Civil Code Section 3342, a dog owner is held in strict liability if their dog bites a person who is lawfully on public or private property. There is no one free-bite rule in California that lets the owner off with a warning if their dog bites a person.
- A dog owner can also be found to be negligent, and therefore liable, in many cases. Allowing a dog to roam free is in violation of local leash law and is considered to be negligence by the dog owner.
- Certain dog breeds have stricter laws when it comes to liability. Owners of dogs that are considered to be dangerous breeds such as Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Cane Corsos, or German Shepherds are often held at strict liability because the breed is considered dangerous.
- It is important to have a clear understanding of all of the facts of the case. It is useful to keep in mind the potential that the injured party could have been trespassing, provoking the dog, or in general could be found to be comparatively at fault
- It is important to take note of any economic losses that occurred. These economic damages could include medical bills and loss of earnings from having to take time off of work.
- One non-economic damage to consider is the physical scars sustained from the incident. Sometimes, plastic surgery might be needed in the future for scar revision surgery.
- Another economic damage to consider is overall emotional trauma. The incident could cause long-term mental and emotional problems due to PTSD. Psychologists, family, and friends are great witnesses to PTSD, the newly found fear of dogs, and other mental aspects that developed as a result of the incident.
Deep Pockets Consideration (aka who can pay?)
- Most homeowners have liability insurance in their homeowner's or renter's policy. However, dog owners that have what are considered to be dangerous dog breeds may be excluded from this coverage as their homeowner's or renter's insurance company might not offer it as they consider the dog too high of a liability.
- If the dog owner doesn't have insurance, are they able to pay? It is important to take into consideration the dog owner's current and future assets when asking this question. Recently, we settled a claim for a postal worker against an uninsured dog owner for some money paid up-front plus monthly payments over 5 years.
Taking into account these considerations is important when establishing your dog bite injury case. Dog bite claims involve many unique and sometimes complex issues. It is always a good idea to consult an attorney who is experienced in handling these claims. Kohn Law Office provides free initial consultation on injury and dog bite claims, and all cases are handled on a contingency basis where there is no fee unless there is a recovery. If you have questions, we would love to help, so please call us at 760-721-8182.