Building a Legal Claim for a Dog Attack
More than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year, 800,000 of which get medical treatment. At least half the people bitten by dogs are children. Any dog can bite under certain conditions, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Breeds found to be responsible for the highest numbers of reported bites were Pit bulls and mixed breeds in a study published in Science Direct.
What Types of Injuries Do Dog Attacks Cause?
Severity of dog attack injuries can vary depending on factors such as the breed of the dog and the age of the victim. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Fractured bones
- Eye injuries
- Nerve damage
- Tendon or ligament damage
- Facial injuries
What Rights Do You Have After a Dog Attack?
If you or your child has been attacked by a dog, you have a right to seek compensation from responsible parties. Dog owners are liable for damages their animals cause under California strict liability dog bite laws at Civil Code Section 3342. It does not matter whether the dog ever displayed any vicious tendencies in the past. Anyone who was bitten by a dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner, has a right to pursue damages.
What If the Dog Has Bitten Before?
California dog owners have additional responsibility for a dog that has attacked in the past, under Civil Code Section 3342.5. The owner of any dog that has bitten a human has a duty under the law to take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to remove any danger of the dog biting anyone else. After two separate incidents of the dog biting a person, the district attorney will investigate, and the dog may be removed from the home or euthanized.
What Should You Do After a Dog Attack?
If a dog attacks, take steps right away to secure evidence and support your claim. You may need to contact animal control or the police. Get a name and contact information for the dog owner, as well as any eyewitnesses to the attack. Get medical attention as soon as possible. Dog bites that puncture the skin carry a risk of serious infection. At your earliest opportunity, speak with a Santa Ana personal injury lawyer.
Why Is It Important to Get Medical Attention for Dog Bites?
Dog bites can introduce bacteria into the body that significantly increase the risk of infection. Your doctor will likely apply antibiotic ointment to the wounds and may prescribe oral antibiotics. Unvaccinated or feral dogs can potentially carry rabies. You may need tetanus booster if the wound is dirty, and it has been more than five years since your last tetanus shot. Depending on the location of the wounds, you may need sutures to help minimize scarring.
What Are the Elements of a California Dog Bite Claim?
Under state law, victims are not required to establish owner negligence to recover compensation for dog bite injuries. To prevail in a dog bite claim in civil court, you must prove that:
- The defendant owned the dog that bit the victim.
- The victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place when bitten by the dog.
- The victim suffered harm.
- The dog owned by the defendant was a substantial factor in causing that harm.
Dog bites can cause serious injuries requiring extensive medical treatment, particularly when victims are children. Contact HN Injury Lawyers at (657) 333-5726 for superior legal representation after a dog attack. Our Santa Ana personal injury attorneys have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue the compensation you deserve.