Although most of the 74 million dogs in the U.S. are loving and loyal, some of them inflict serious wounds and even death by biting. The CDC has found that dogs bite nearly 2% of the population each year, and of these about 800,000 bites are so serious that they require medical care. A serious dog bite may immobilize a victim, resulting in job loss, lost income, permanent disability, or disfigurement, for which compensation may be sought with the assistance of an injury attorney. Even when dog bites are minor, it is emotionally and physically traumatic for a victim. Knowledgeable Folsom dog bite attorney Travis G. Black may be able to help you recover compensation if you have suffered from an animal attack.
Pursuing Compensation for Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
Under California Civil Code section 3342, a dog owner may be held strictly liable for a dog bite if it occurs in a public place, or the victim is lawfully in a private place, including the home of the dog owner. A victim is considered lawfully on the dog owner’s property if the victim is performing a duty imposed on them by the laws of California or the United States or by postal regulations, or if the victim is there at the express or implicit invitation of the owner.
Liability may be established regardless of whether the dog had shown signs of viciousness before or whether the owner knew about this viciousness. This means that, as a victim, you do not need to show that the dog owner was negligent or intended to cause your harm. Instead, you simply need to prove that your injury was caused by a dog bite, and you were either in a public place or lawfully somewhere private when the bite occurred.
However, there is an exception for dog bites that applies when the dog is a police dog or military dog performing that type of work. For example, if a police dog is sniffing for drugs, and you interrupt and are bitten, you may not be able to recover damages. Additionally, you will not be able to recover compensation under this code section for injuries caused by scratching or an attack not involving a bite. In these cases, you would need to rely on a theory of negligence and prove the dog owner’s duty of care, a breach of that duty, causation, and actual damages. California Civil Code section 3342.5 requires a dog owner who has a dog that has bitten someone to take reasonable steps to remove any danger presented by the possibility of a dog bite.
Assuming that you can prove the elements of a strict liability claim, the focus of the case is likely to be damages. These may include medical bills, the cost of rehabilitation, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of a job, loss of the ability to participate in your favorite activities, loss of career, lost income, and need for counseling based on trauma.