Dogs are widely known as lovable, loyal members of the family in many American households. However, unlike the humans they interact with who can use common sense and decision-making skills, dogs rely almost solely on instinct. This means even the gentlest, most docile dog can bite if it feels threatened. Because of this, dog owners have a responsibility to keep them away from situations where they might end up biting a victim. If you were injured by a dog bite, contact a Riverside Dog Bite Attorney to see if you could be entitled to compensation.
Riverside Dog Bite Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports near 4.7 million Americans suffer dog bites annually. Nearly 800,000 of those bites end up requiring medical attention. The CDC also points out the children are most at risk for dog bite injuries and dogs kept indoors are more likely to bite when they cohabit with humans.
California holds the distinction of being the state with the most dog bites – 14 percent of the country’s bites occur here. Riverside, as a rapidly growing town of over 326,000, is no stranger to dog bite incidents. In late 2019, a dog at a rescue center in Riverside County bit and severely injured a 7-year-old girl in the face. The privately owned and operated kennel has had at least 5 other serious bites since 2013.
Are Owners Responsible When Their Dog Bites?
Usually, all California dog owners are strictly liable for a victim’s injuries in their dog bites and an injury or fatality results. This is a strict standard of liability and means the owner may still owe damages when:
- They themselves did not behave negligently
- Their dog has no history of bites
- Their dog has never demonstrated dangerous or aggressive tendencies
How Do I Win My Riverside Dog Bite Case?
Dog bite victims can sue the dog’s owner for their damages. Depending on the circumstances, victims may make several different arguments to establish liability. If a victim proves elements required by their argument, the owner is liable for their damages unless the owner has a valid legal defense like the victim’s provocation of the dog.
Most dog bite victims assert a strict liability argument to recover compensation. For strict liability, the victim must only prove the dog accused of the injuring bite was owned by the defendant and that a bite took place. The victim can only assert this argument if they were on public property or lawfully present on private property at the time of the bite – this means no trespassers. Also, strict liability is unavailable for someone bitten by a police or military dog during the performance of its official duties.
If strict liability does not apply, a dog bite victim can argue the dog’s owner is liable because of their negligent behavior. To establish negligence, a victim must show the defendant owed them a legal duty of care, breached their duty by acting or else failing to act when they should have, and the breach caused them injury. If the victim can establish these elements, the dog’s owner is liable for their damages unless they can raise a valid legal defense.
Negligence can also be established if the victim can show the dog owner’s actions violated a law, statute, or regulation at the local, state, or federal level. Known as negligence per se, the owner would be presumed negligent for breaking a law. For example, an owner allowing their dog to walk off-leash in a city with leash laws would be negligent per se if their dog bit and injured someone.
The One Bite Rule
Dog bite victims in Riverside can also argue the owner is liable under California’s “one bite rule.” Under this rule, a dog owner who knew or should have known their dog was aggressive or had dangerous tendencies before their dog bit the victim can be liable for their injuries.
How Much Can I Recover?
Once a dog owner is liable for a victim’s injuries under strict liability, negligence per se, or negligence, they are responsible for the damages a victim can prove in court. Common injuries meriting compensation include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Funeral costs
- Lost future earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent scarring, disability, or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
What Should I Do If I Was Bitten?
Being injured by a dog bite can be traumatic, so it’s understandable that acting immediately seems overwhelming and the last thing you’d want to do. However, the benefit that taking a few simple steps can have on your health and the strength of your claim for compensation are worth it. If possible, it’s important to:
- Seek immediate medical help
- Get a rabies test
- Collect information on the dog and the owner
- Report the bite to law enforcement and animal control
- Photograph the dog, the accident scene, and your injuries
- Keep records of all medical records and the expenses you incur from your injuries
- Contact an attorney with experience handling dog bite cases
Speak to a Riverside Dog Bite Attorney
If you were injured by a dog bite, contact the knowledgeable Riverside Dog Bite Attorneys at Walton Law, APC today. Our dedicated attorneys have spent years delivering tailored, skilled representation for dog bite victims in the Riverside area and recovering millions of dollars for our clients. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or complete our online Contact Page to schedule your free, no-risk initial case consultation today. You pay nothing until we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys evaluate your case, answer your questions, and work to get you the maximum possible recovery starting today.