Glendale Dog Bite Attorneys
Being attacked by a dog is an incredibly frightening experience, especially for children who, unfortunately, are the most common victims of dog bites. Victims often suffer serious, even life-threatening injuries, as well as extensive emotional distress and lasting trauma.
At Aghabegian & Associates, PC, we believe that dog owners have a responsibility to make sure their pets do not harm others—and the law agrees. In California, negligent dog owners can be held accountable for their animals’ behavior. If you, your child, or your loved one was attacked or bitten by a dog, our firm can help you fight for justice and a fair recovery.
Call (818) 507-4311 to speak to one of our Glendale premises liability attorneys about your case today. We offer contingent fees, meaning there is no upfront cost for you and you only pay if we win.
California is known as a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bite cases. Simply put, this means that dog owners are almost always responsible for their pets’ behavior, regardless of whether or not the dog in question has ever shown aggressive behavior before. A dog owner in California cannot escape liability by claiming that he or she didn’t know that the dog would bite/attack. The only exceptions to this rule are if the victim was on private property unlawfully (trespassing) when the bite/attack occurred or if the dog in question is a military or police dog that was in the line of duty when it bit/attacked.
Here are some examples of when an individual can bring a claim against a dog owner:
- A woman is walking in a public park when an unleashed dog runs up to her and bites her leg. If the park is not a designated off-leash zone, the woman may bring a claim against the dog owner.
- A mail delivery person is bitten by a dog that was allowed to wander freely in the front yard of a home or on a property that does not have any fences to restrain the dog.
- Hikers walking with their leashed dog are attacked by an illegally unleashed dog on a local trail and suffer serious bite injuries as a result.
- A child is bitten by a dog in a friend’s home while the child and his parents are invited guests of the friend.
- A dog escapes its yard and bites a jogger who is running through the neighborhood. The injured jogger requires surgery to treat his bite injuries.
If a person is attacked, knocked down, or otherwise harmed by a dog but not bitten by the dog, he or she may still be able to bring a claim against the owner if he or she can show that the dog owner acted negligently. For example, if a dog is off leash in an on-leash only area, such as a public playground, and the dog jumps on a small child, scratching the child’s eye and causing serious eye injury, the owner of the dog can be held liable for failing to properly restrain the dog.
Violent dog attacks can go far beyond minor scrapes and bruises, often resulting in severe physical injuries and emotional trauma. Injuries can last for years to come and require a significant amount of physical therapy and multiple surgeries to recover from. These attacks can even be life-threatening if the victim is a child, elderly, or has a disability.
Because of California’s strict liability laws with regards to dog attacks, victims can pursue compensation for injuries like:
- Spinal cord injuries sustained in a fall or if a dog jumps atop you
- Traumatic brain injuries as a result of a fall
- Infections due to bacteria, parasites, or viruses, such as Rabies
- Amputations from infected wounds or severely injured limbs, including fingers, toes, and ears
- Severe eye injuries from a dog’s teeth or nails
- Broken bones and fractures
- Soft tissue damage
- Lacerations, scars, and disfigurements
Each of these injuries can result in costly medical bills that may take years to pay out of pocket, as well as weeks to months away from work as you receive treatment. In addition, these attacks can lead to a significant amount of mental anguish, especially in cases involving young children.
Young children are often not aware of the dangers posed by dogs. They may think that an animal is friendly or non-violent, leading to them trying to pet or play with it without first checking with the owner. However, even if an owner says a dog is safe or tries to discourage a child from going near a dog, they could still be found liable if the dog attacks the child.
Dog bite cases involving children require a thorough evaluation of what led to the attack. While there are cases where dogs may attack children unprovoked, such as if the child was trespassing on a neighbor’s property, it is possible that a child instigated the attack. A child may grab at a dog’s face, paws or tail; poke at it with a stick or toy; hit or strike it; yell at it for not obeying commands; or otherwise provoke the dog to defend itself. In these instances, if the dog had no prior history of violence and the child provoked the attack, it may be more difficult to receive compensation from the owner.
However, this may depend on the child’s age. California courts have determined that children younger than five cannot commit negligence, meaning they cannot be found liable for their own injuries. Thus, attacks involving dogs and infants may always lead to a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner.
After a dog attack, you may be wondering how to cover the costs of your medical bills, especially if you suffered a disability due to the incident. In addition to being particularly painful and violent, dog attacks can come with a high price tag depending on how extensive your wounds are. For example, a severe back injury that requires surgery or physical therapy will cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. Given that most people do not have a sizable savings account in California and health insurance only covers a fraction of your actual injuries, you will likely need to file a claim against the dog’s owner to contend with your medical bills.
But treatment costs are not the only thing you can receive compensation for after a dog attack. In the state of California, the victim of a dog attack can file a claim for:
- Medical bills, past and future
- Lost wages from time off work
- Reduced earning capacity
- Lost career opportunities if you could not continue working at your place of employment
- Adjustments to your home and vehicle if you are disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Property damage, including personal items
While these damages may appear extensive, you will need to thoroughly catalog the costs of the attack in order to receive proper compensation when filing a claim. Make sure to create a file that includes all medical bills, receipts, and invoices you have received from your physicians, as well as any old pay stubs or tax returns that can demonstrate how you have made less money at your job since the incident. With regards to damages like mental anguish or pain and suffering, a doctor or therapist can attest to the toll of your injuries, but you can also record any psychological issues have experienced since the attack in a journal. Your attorney can utilize these documents to demonstrate the total extent of your trauma and push an insurance adjuster to provide proper compensation for your injuries.
When you begin filing a claim for a dog attack, you will need to know the insurance information of the dog, which you can receive by talking to the dog’s owner. While you are legally allowed to seek damages from the owner themselves if they do not have insurance, this is often harder to do, as dog owners who do not have an applicable insurance policy cannot afford to pay out of pocket in a civil case.
Within the state of California, dog owners are not required to get general liability insurance for their dog; however, that does not mean they do not already have a policy that covers dog bites. Many homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover dog attacks and can provide a policy limit of between $100,000 to $300,000 to victims. Because of California’s strict dog liability laws, you may be able to file for damages under these policies, but you will want to have them reviewed by your attorney first. Insurance companies are notorious for devaluing or denying claims unless you have a strong legal basis for your claim and a significant amount of evidence. Anything you say to an insurance adjuster will likely also be used against you during the claims process, which is why you will want to have an attorney handle all communication.
While victims of dog bites and dog attacks in California are granted broad rights under state law, proving fault in dog bite cases is not always a simple matter. In many cases, victims find themselves in a he-said-she-said battle against the dog owner. For this reason, if you are bitten or injured by a dog, it is important that you take down any available witness statements and contact information (if possible). This can seriously help your case in the event that the dog owner denies culpability.
Regardless of your particular situation, it is in your best interest to discuss your situation with an experienced dog bite injury attorney. Our Glendale dog bite lawyers can answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you navigate each stage of the legal process with compassion, attentiveness, and dedicated advocacy. We proudly assist clients in Glendale, Los Angeles, and throughout the San Fernando Valley.
To request a free, confidential consultation, call our office at (818) 507-4311 or contact us online.
- Dog Bites: Who Is Liable?
- How Much Do Dog Bites Cost?
- California Civil Code 3342
- Reporting Animal Bites - LA County Department of Public Health
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