Because of their loyalty, affection, general good nature, and capability of working with humans, dogs have a well-earned reputation for being man’s best friend. Unfortunately, sometimes dogs don’t live up to their reputation and can cause life-changing, catastrophic, and even fatal injuries in the blink of an eye from an unprovoked attack. The Centers for Disease control estimates more than 4.5 million bites occur annually and over 800,000 victims receive medical treatment for their injuries. Unfortunately, many of these bites result when a dog’s owner fails to take proper precautions with their dog – especially around children, who comprise at least half of all bite victims. If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, contact an experienced Moreno Valley dog bite attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Dog Bite Facts
Californians experience more dog bites than any state in the country; nearly one third of all homeowner’s liability insurance claims are related to dog bites. A grown city of over 209,000, Moreno Valley is home to a large number of dogs thanks to the large number of single-family residences with yards. Moreno Valley also has a population density of 3.491 residents per square mile, which makes its population density 1439% higher than California’s average and 4250% the national average. The closely packed city, pleasant year-round climate, and dog parks like Hound Town mean that dogs are everywhere and it’s likely to encounter them regularly – sometimes with disastrous consequences like dog bite injuries or worse. A woman in Moreno Valley was mauled to death by her neighbor’s dogs in her own backyard.
Is the Dog’s Owner Responsible?
With few exceptions, California dog owners are strictly liable if their dog bites and injures someone. This is a low liability bar. It means even Moreno Valley dog owners who didn’t act negligently or owned a dog who had never bitten before and showed no vicious tendencies may still be responsible for your injuries.
How do I win my Case?
Dog bite victims can pursue recovery in court using a variety of arguments. If they’re proven, the owner is liable for damages you suffered unless a defense exists. In some cases, defendants may present valid defenses to escape liability such as provoking the dog, comparative negligence, or assumption of risk.
In most cases, owners are strictly liable. This means, unlike in general negligence arguments where you must prove the owner breached a duty of care to you and caused injury, you must only show:
- Defendant owned the dog in question, and
- A bite actually occurred.
In a few cases, strict liability will not apply. A victim must either be on public property or lawfully present on private property when bitten. This means trespassers can’t recover under strict liability. A victim also can’t assert strict liability if bitten by a police or military dog during the performance of its official duties.
One Bite Rule
If strict liability doesn’t apply, California’s “one bite rule” may apply. An owner may be liable under the one bite rule for any dog bite injuries if they knew or had reason to know their dog was vicious or had dangerous tendencies before it bit the victim.
Another argument a victim may assert is the dog’s owner negligently caused their injuries. To establish negligence, you must prove in court that:
- The accused owed you a legal duty of care to act as a reasonably prudent person would in their situation,
- They breached the duty by an act or a failure to act, and
- The breached caused your harm.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a way to prove negligence without proving all the elements of general negligence. A presumption of negligence is created if you can prove that a law, rule, or regulation designed to protect people was violated and resulted in the bite and your injuries. For example, Moreno Valley has an animal control regulation known informally as a “leash law.” If you were bitten when the dog was loose and its owner in violation of the leash law, the owner is presumed negligence if you can prove the injury occurred during the violation.
What can I Recover for my Injuries?
Dog bites can cause enormous trauma – not to mention catastrophic injuries and expensive medical bills. If you can prove the owner is liable for the dog bite, you may be entitled to damages you prove in court. Compensatory damages are meant to make you whole for the harm you suffered, no matter whether the injuries are physical, mental, emotional, or financial. Victims can receive compensation for a variety of harms, including:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Lost future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering,
- Mental anguish,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Permanent disability, disfigurement, or scarring.
A skilled Moreno Valley dog bite attorney will be able to help determine while damages to pursue as well as help navigate the tricky legal waters of proving some of these subjective damages. They may also be able to prove circumstances exist that warrant an award of additional damage to punish extremely bad behavior.
What do I Need to do After a Dog Bite?
If you were bitten by a dog, the trauma of the experience and your injuries may make it seem overwhelming to think about taking important steps afterwards. However, a few simple actions will help you look after your health and the health of your legal claim for recovery.
- Seek immediate medical attention.
- Get checked for rabies.
- Identify the dog and its owner. If it’s a stray, try to get a picture for identification purposes.
- Get contact information from any eyewitnesses to the bite.
- Report the bite to local authorities and to animal control.
- Save all medical records and obtain reports created regarding the bite.
- Keep records of any damages incurred – including medical expenses and lost wages – from the bite.
- Contact a dog bite attorney.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, you know firsthand the painful, traumatic consequences that result. You have enough to worry about without the headaches of medical bills, insurance companies, and dealing with the dog’s owner! To make sure you protect your rights and put the best foot forward on a case to recover damages, contact the experienced Moreno Valley dog bite attorneys at Walton Law, APC as soon as possible. Our experienced team of attorneys has been providing dedicated, comprehensive representation for victims like you for years and delivering millions of dollars in results. Contact us 24/7 days at (866)-338-7079 or on our online Contact Page to schedule a no risk, no obligation initial case review today. The consultation is free and completely confidential, and you pay nothing until we win your case. Let our attorneys answer your questions and help you secure the best possible outcome from a bad situation.