Dogs are usually lovable, loyal, affectionate animals with versatile roles in society today. They serve as law enforcement animals, military dogs, service animals for special needs individuals, therapy dogs, and of course home companions. Despite their generally pleasant temperament and their contributions to society, not all dogs always act in a loving, friendly manner. The United States has close to 4.8 million dog bites occur each year. Nearly 20 percent of those bites require medical attention. Though most bites aren’t fatal, victims often sustain serious injuries If you were bitten by a dog, contact a Hemet Dog Bite Attorney to learn if you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Dog Bite Statistics
The most dog bites in the United States happen in California – nearly 14 percent incidents of the country’s bites occur in a single state. Dog bites cost over 1 billion dollars annually. Almost a third of the country’s homeowner’s insurance liability claims are related to dog bites, and the average payment from an insurer for dog bites ranges from $32,000 to $40,000. These statistics mean that dog bites can be very costly and more common that many may think.
Hemet is a city of 84,000 and growing each year. The town boasts many dog-friendly hiking trails and parks, and its warm, dry climate encourages dog owners and non-dog owners alike to get outdoors. The climate, the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with a four-legged friend, and the growing numbers of neighborhoods with sidewalks and yards where individuals and dogs may interact only serve to increase the number of opportunities for people to be injured or even killed by a dog bite if the encounter turns unfriendly.
Is There a Rule Holding Hemet Dog Owners Liable for Bite Injuries?
Hemet, as in all of California, holds dog owners are usually strictly liable for a victim’s injuries if their dog bites and injuries or kills someone. This means that a dog’s owner may still be responsible for paying damages even if:
- They did not behave negligently;
- Their dog had not prior vicious behavior; and
- They dog had no demonstrated dangerous tendencies.
What Do I Do to Get Compensation for My Injuries?
Dog bite victims can sue the dog owner in court for injuries they suffered. Different arguments may be made to establish dog owner liability depending on the circumstances. Once a victim can prove the legal elements of their argument, a dog owner will be liable for the victim’s injuries unless the owner can raise a valid legal defense such as comparative negligence, assumption of the risk, or provocation of the dog by the victim. If they cannot, the owner is liable.
Strict liability is the most common theory dog bite victims use to recover compensation. If a victim established the elements of strict liability, the owner is liable for the victim’s damages unless they establish a valid legal defense. Strict liability only asks the victim to prove the owner actually owned the dog accused of biting and causing harm and that a bite occurred.
For a victim to argue strict liability applies, they must have been either on public property or else lawfully present on private property when the bite took place. Trespassers cannot employ strict liability. Also, strict liability is not available to a victim bitten by a police or military dog engaged in performing its official duties.
If circumstances prevent a victim from recovering under strict liability, Hemet dog bite victims may still seek recovery under the theory that the dog owner’s negligence caused them harm. Negligence requires establish several legal elements to attach and hold a defendant liable for a victim’s injuries. To show a defendant was negligent, the victim must prove:
- The defendant owed the victim a legal duty of care;
- Defendant breached that duty be either an affirmative act or an omission; and
- The defendant’s breach caused injury to the victim.
Once a victim proves these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, unless the dog owner can show a valid legal defense for their actions, they are presumed negligence and thus liable for the victim’s damages.
Negligence Per Se
If a victim cannot assert strict liability to recover, they may establish the dog owner’s negligent behavior a second way. Negligence per se means that is a victim can show the owner acted in a way that violated a rule, law, statute, or regulation at either the local, state, or federal level, it establishes the presumption the dog owner acted negligently. A dog that bites a victim because they were allowed to run off-leash in violation of a Hemet leash law would render its owner presumptively negligent.
The One Bite Rule
In California, victims also have the ability to argue for liability under a “one bite rule. This theory hold that a dog owner may be responsible for a victim’s injuries if they knew or should have known that their dog was aggressive or had aggressive or dangerous tendencies prior to the victim’s bite occurring.
How Much is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
A victim may recover for injuries they can prove in court once they establish a dog owner’s liability through strict liability, negligence per se, or negligence. A compensatory damage awards is supposed to make victims whole for their injuries. Some compensatory damages are economic and meant for concrete injuries including burial costs, property damage, medical expenses, and lost earned income potential. Others are designed for more abstract, noneconomic damages that involve mental, emotional, and psychological injuries such as mental anguish, scarring, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Certain circumstances may warrant additional damages to punish the dog owner, but these are best determined by an experienced Hemet Dog Bite Lawyer.
What Should I Do If a Dog Bites Me?
A dog bite and any resulting injury can be traumatic; being proactive may be the last thing you want to do. However, though it may feel overwhelming, taking a few simple steps can greatly help to fully recover from your injuries as well as strengthen any future claims you may bring.
- Get Medical Care Immediately – Your health is paramount, so get evaluated and treated for any injuries. You will also need a rabies test. Follow all medical provider recommendations and attend all follow-up appointments.
- Collect Information – If anyone witnessed the bite, get their contact information. Photograph the dog if possible and try to identify the dog and its owner if it is not a stray.
- Report the Bite – It’s important to report the incident to both your local law enforcement as well as animal control. Keep copies of any reports they produce for your records.
- Document Your Injuries – For the health of your claim, keep copies of all medical records, photograph your injuries if possible, and retain all expenses incurred that relate to your injuries (medical as well as non-medical, such as lost wages).
- Contact a Hemet Dog Bite Attorney – Speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights and the best course of action for you.
Speak to a Hemet Dog Bite Attorney
If you were the victim of a dog bite, contact the skilled Hemet Dog Bite Attorneys at Walton Law today. Our dedicated attorneys have years of experience delivering personal, aggressive representation for victims like you and recovering millions in compensation for our clients. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or use our online Contact Page to set up your no-risk initial case review today. The consultation is free, and do not pay until we win. Let our knowledgeable attorneys evaluate the unique facts of your case, answer your questions, and start you on the road to the maximum possible recovery today so you can get your life back on track.