Dog Bites

Dog Bite Lawsuits and Possible Damages

Our Fairfield Dog Bite Lawyers Explain Possible Legal Options

photo of a dog biting a man

Dogs are considered “man’s best friend” in California and across the country. We have a very “dog friendly” culture in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 36 percent of U.S. households own dogs.  While dogs are friendly in many cases, there are situations where they attack other people and cause significant damage. The CDC also estimates that one in five dog bite victims per year require medical attention.

When we think of dog bites and attacks, it is common to conjure an image of a minor injury that is treatable at home with over-the-counter medications. However, this is not always the case, and some dog bites and attacks leave victims with lasting injuries, permanent disfigurement and mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some animal attack victims require expensive reconstructive surgeries and mental health services.

California laws allow dog bite and dog attack victims to recover compensation for their damages, which may include pain and suffering as well as medical expenses. However, you would need to meet certain criteria to file a claim for damages or a lawsuit.

At Barnett, Bennett, & Scott LLP, we have a commitment to helping people who suffered harm due to the negligent actions of others. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to a dog bite or attack, then we encourage you to call us to explore your legal options. Depending on the circumstances, it could be possible to recover compensation that can pay for your damages through a settlement or verdict.

What Are the Consequences of a Dog Bite or Dog Attack?

Not all dog bites or attacks are serious. Some people do not require medical care in emergency rooms. However, as we stated, the CDC’s estimates suggest that one in five dog bite victims require medical care. Many of those victims are children and seniors. The possible consequences of a dog bite or dog attack include:

  • Infection. This is one of the most common health risks associated with dog bites. In the worst-case scenarios, infections can lead to other major health problems, such as organ failure, tissue death and amputation.
  • Disfigurement. Dog bite and attack victims can suffer soft tissue damage and disfigurement. This type of injury can also compound the mental health conditions that may occur after a dog bite or dog attack.
  • Mental health conditions. Dog bite victims, especially children, can suffer from mental health conditions for years after the attack. Post-traumatic stress disorder, also called PTSD, is a possible health outcome after a dog bite or attack.

The injuries listed above can cost a person millions of dollars in damages over the course of a lifetime. For instance, someone with a severe disfigurement is going to have a more difficult time finding and maintaining employment. Attack survivors may also suffer medical bills due to their injuries.

What Legal Options Are Available for Dog Bites in California? 

California has a “strict liability rule” for dog bites. What this means is that an owner may be responsible for damages caused by a dog bite if you were on public property or lawfully on private property. This is true even if the owner was not negligent.

There are exceptions to the rule when dogs are performing police or military work. Trespassers may also be unable to recover compensation for their damages. Provoking a dog could also bar you from being able to file a claim or lawsuit.

Furthermore, the strict liability rule only applies to dog bites, it does not cover injuries caused by dog behaviors. For instance, you may be unable to recover compensation if a dog jumps on you and knocks you down a flight of stairs. Your ability to file a claim would depend on whether the owner’s negligence caused your damages. For instance, California has rules for controlling dangerous dogs. An owner who violates these rules could be liable if the dog harms another person and causes damages.

To file a negligence or strict liability lawsuit, you must be within the statute of limitations. We encourage you to reach out to us if you have questions about how California’s statute of limitations could apply to a potential lawsuit.

Contact Our Fairfield Dog Bite Lawyers to Learn More

The Fairfield dog bite lawyers at Barnett, Bennett, & Scott LLP can help you determine your possible legal options after a dog bite or attack. We offer free consultations and take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not owe fees unless we recover compensation. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (707) 425-0671 or use our online case review form.