Your Rights When Bitten by a Dog in California
Under California state law, if you are in a public space or lawful private one when bitten by a dog, the canine’s owner is liable for your injuries. You are allowed on private property if you were invited by the property owner or were performing duties required by the laws of the state or federal government. It doesn’t matter if the owner was unaware that their dog could be aggressive or had bitten someone before. You may still pursue compensation for damages.
Your case is strengthened by the severity of the bite or if you have been bitten by the dog previously. Also, if bitten by certain aggressive dog breeds, such as rottweilers, pitbulls, huskies, and Akitas, you may have a stronger case. It’s important that you hire an attorney who knows the intricacies of dog bite lawsuits. Contact the California dog bite lawyers at Kalfayan Merjanian to get the best representation possible.
What To Do When Bitten by a Dog
There are steps you should take after you are bitten by a dog that can help you secure your well being and any financial damages later.
- Identify the breed of dog. Find out where the animal lives or who the owner is. If possible, take a picture of the dog or be able to describe it accurately.
- Get medical attention, especially if the bite has broken the skin. Take photos of your injuries.
- If you treat the wound at home, take pictures beforehand and be sure to wash it thoroughly.
- Report the bite to the local branch of the health department. They can help you determine if the dog is a stray and if you need rabies shots.
- Report the dog bite to the police and the animal control office.
- Try to obtain information about the dog’s license and rabies vaccinations.
- Talk to the experienced dog bite attorneys at CA Trial Attorneys to learn what steps you can take to receive compensation.
California’s Laws on Dangerous or Vicious Dogs
Under California law, dog owners are required to take reasonable steps to protect the public from their dog if it has bitten someone in the past. Likewise, when law enforcement or animal control officers deem a dog to be dangerous or vicious, there are laws in place to ensure that the owner controls the animal. Dogs fall under this category if they have done the following:
- Bitten someone without provocation
- Killed or injured another pet without provocation
- Forced people to defend themselves from aggressive behavior while away from the owner’s property
Owners of these dogs must keep them inside, in a securely fenced yard, or on a leash under the supervision of a responsible adult. Failure to observe or comply with any of these dangerous dog laws can result in fines or the destruction of the dog by animal control. If you have suffered a dog bite due to the failure of the owner to control a dangerous or vicious dog, hire California Trial Attorneys to pursue your claim.
You can seek both compensatory and punitive damages for dog bite injuries. Compensatory damages provide money to compensate the victim for pain, suffering, and economic losses. Compensatory damages are divided into two categories, special damages and general damages.
Also called economic damages, this category covers items such as medical costs due to the injury, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity.
Sometimes called non-economic damages, this category is for hardships that are related to pain and suffering such as mental anguish and emotional distress. It is more difficult to ascertain a dollar amount for these damages. Typically they are determined with the multiplier method. Depending upon the circumstances, the amount awarded for special damages is multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. For example, if you suffered a minor bite that resulted in a few days off work, the multiplier 1.5 may be used. If the dog bite was severe and resulted in a career-ending injury with months of rehabilitation, a multiplier of 4 might be used.
It is important to consult with experienced dog bite attorneys if you wish to pursue punitive damages. They are more involved and take more work to prove in court. In the state of California, punitive damages require proof that the defendant acted with oppression, fraud, or malice. In the case of a dog bite, this may come into play if the owner ordered the dog to attack or if the owner knew the dog was aggressive and took no steps to prevent an attack.
While California does not have a cap on punitive damages, you will not be awarded an amount that exceeds the harm and injury you experienced. A ratio of 10:1 is typically used to calculate punitive damages. If you receive $10,000 in compensatory damages, your punitive damages will likely be $100,000 or less.
What California Dog Bite Lawyers Can Do For You
The professionals at Kalfayan Merjanian can assist with the following:
- Assess the seriousness of your injuries and the validity of your claim
- Ascertain if the dog is considered dangerous or vicious
- Determine if the owner acted with negligence, oppression, fraud, or malice
- Represent you in court if the insurance company refuses your claim
Get in touch to learn more about how KM fights for your rights. Contact us today for the best representation.