Dogs are commonly known as man’s best friend, and it’s no wonder – they’re loyal and affectionate who serve as companions, therapy dogs, and perform services in a professional capacity with law enforcement, the military, and special needs individuals. However, not all dogs always behave lovingly. An estimated 4.8 million dog bites take place annually with medical care being required in close to 20 percent of the cases. Most bites are not fatal, but many victims do sustain serious injuries and suffer lifelong trauma. If you are a dog bite victim, talk to an experienced Wildomar dog bite attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation today.
Facts About Dog Bites
14 percent of dog bites in the United States take place in California – the highest rate nationwide. Nearly a third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims and subsequent payouts are related to dog bites. Wildomar is a rapidly growing town that has nearly tripled in size in the past 20 years to over 37,000 residents, which makes it more and more likely someone will have a vicious, traumatic encounter with a dog. Wildomar also has many hiking trails such as the Santa Rosa Plateau where hikers may encounter dogs as well as a dog park at Regency-Heritage Park. The number of outdoor activities for dog lovers and their pets only raises the risk level for people to be bitten, seriously hurt, or even killed by a vicious dog if an unfriendly interaction takes place.
Are Dog Owners in Wildomar Liable?
In Wildomar, along with the rest of California, dog owners are strictly liable in most circumstances when their dog’s bite injures or kills someone. Even without any negligence, any prior vicious behavior, or demonstrated dangerous tendencies, a dog’s owner may still be liable for a victim’s damages.
How Do I Recover If I Was Injured by a Dog Bite?
Victims can pursue recovery for their injury in the court system. Depending on the circumstances, several arguments may be asserted by victims seeking compensation – this can create numerous opportunities to establish a defendant’s liability for their dog bite injuries. If the victim establishes liability, a defendant can raise a valid legal defense to escape liability. The victim may also defeat a defendant’s legal defenses by showing provocation by the defendant, assumption of the risk, or comparative negligence.
Strict Liability Recovery
Most Wildomar dog bite victims assert strict liability of a dog owner to recover for their injuries. If this can be established, an owner will be liable for the victim’s harms absent raising a valid legal defense. Unlike negligence, strict liability only demands the bite victim demonstrate:
- The owner actually owned the dog accused of biting and rendering injury; and
- A bite occurred.
To be able to successfully assert strict liability, at the time of the bite the victim had to be lawfully present on private property or else on public property – therefore trespassers cannot assert the argument. Additionally, victims bitten by a military or police dog while it is engaged in performance of its official duties may not recover through strict liability arguments.
Negligence and Negligence Per Se
If strict liability cannot apply, Wildomar dog bite victims may alternately argue a defendant’s negligence resulted in their injuries. To establish negligence, a victim must prove more likely than not that the defendant owed a legal duty of care to the victim, they breached their duty to the victim by act or omission, and that breach resulted in actual injury to the victim. After establishing the elements of negligence, unless the dog’s owner can raise a valid legal defense, they will be presumed negligent and will be liable for the victim’s injuries.
Negligence per se a variation of a general negligence argument for recovery. With negligence per se, however, if the victim can establish defendant’s behavior violated a law, statute, or regulation and this action also caused the bite and injuries, it establishes the presumption that the dog owner was negligent. For example, violating a Wildomar leash ordinance could establish negligence per se.
California’s One Bite Rule
A victim may also assert a “one bite rule” in California to try and establish a defendant’s liability. Under this theory, if a dog owner new or should have known their dog had aggressive or dangerous tendencies before the bite, they may be liable for a victim’s damages.
What Damages Can I Recover?
If you can prove a dog owner was liable under negligence, negligence per se, or strict liability for the dog bites, it’s possible for a victim to recover for injuries they can prove in court. Compensatory damages are meant to make up for a victim’s damages and are awarded by either a judge or jury. Some damages are economic in nature and meant to make up for concrete harms such as hospital bills, property damage, lost wages, and funeral costs. Others are meant to make victims whole for mental, emotional, and psychological trauma that can include emotional distress, pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of consortium.
What Do I Do If I was Bitten by a Dog in Wildomar?
Even if it seems daunting, don’t delay in taking a few actions that will protect your health and can positively impact any claims you may bring in the future.
- Get immediate care and follow all treatment provider recommendations.
- Get tested for rabies.
- If possible, identify dog and dog owner.
- Collect witness information.
- Retain medical records, photograph the dog if possible, and document your injuries.
- Report the bite to the authorities and animal control.
- Speak to a Wildomar dog bite attorney.
Contact a Wildomar Dog Bite Attorney
If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, contact the experienced Wildomar dog bite attorneys at Walton Law without delay. Our skilled attorneys have spent years providing personalized representation for our clients and secured millions in damages for their injuries. Get in touch with us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or via through our online Contact Page for a risk free initial case review. The initial consultation is free, and you pay nothing until we win. Let our knowledgeable attorneys evaluate your unique situation and help recover the maximum compensation possible so you can focus on your recovery and move forward with your life.