Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyer
At Compass Law Group, LLP, our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys are well-respected in California and throughout the U.S. One of the issues we deal with regularly is dog bites. If you have been bitten by a dog, you know all too well how painful, disabling, and disfiguring such injuries can be. And how high the cost of recovery can be — in terms of medical care, emotional trauma, lost income, and even damaged self-esteem. If you or a loved one is suffering the aftermath of a serious dog bite, let us fight for your right to just compensation.
Even though dogs are the most popular pets in this country and are typically friendly and affectionate, dog bites remain a medical and legal issue. You should be aware, though, that state laws regarding dog bites vary. We will be discussing California’s canine bite laws.
Although some states have “one bite” laws for dogs, not holding owners responsible until after their dog has bitten someone for the first time, demonstrating its tendency to attack, California, like 35 other states, adheres to a “strict liability” law. This law makes dog owners liable when their dogs bite anyone on public property or who is on private property legally (e.g. not trespassing or committing a crime). In other words, the owner of the dog can be held liable even if the dog has never bitten anyone previously.
A few exceptions to the strict liability law exist. The owner may not be liable if the dog was:
- Carrying out its duties as a law enforcement dog
- Protecting its owner, home, or another domestic animal
- Being tormented, abused, assaulted, or threatened
The law makes the reasonable assumption that if your occupation involves dealing with dogs daily — i.e. if you are a veterinarian, dog groomer, dog walker, or assistant in an animal shelter — you have voluntarily assumed the risk of being bitten. There are situations, however, where our dog bite attorneys may be able to win you damages even if you work closely with animals. In some cases, we may be able to prove that you were never informed of a particular dog’s history of vicious behavior.
Why are children so often victims of dog bites?
Every year millions of individuals are bitten by dogs in our nation, and, sadly, half of the victims are children. There is a reason for this. Although some dogs are innately vicious or have been trained to be aggressive, most will only attack under extreme provocation. Unfortunately, young children, lower to the ground and more vulnerable, are also less likely to be familiar with how to behave with dogs — i.e. not to bother them when they’re eating or tending their puppies, not to grab things from their mouths, pull their fur or otherwise injure, frighten or tease them.
Most children are also unfamiliar with the warning signals dogs provide — growling, raising their hackles, lowering their tails, baring their teeth. If children misbehave with adults, they get a sharp NO! If they misbehave with dogs, they risk being bitten.
All this leads up to the reality that a child or adult victim, whether acting out of ignorance, fear, or malice, may be considered by the court to be partially responsible for his or her own injury — a circumstance known as comparative negligence.
As you would expect, the court is most often sympathetic to a young child who does not yet understand the concept of trespassing or teasing. Nonetheless, the court is not likely to be so forgiving of an older child or an adult who behaves in a cruel or threatening manner to the dog in question and is then harmed.
California, like about one-third of the states, follows a principle of comparative negligence. This means that if you have suffered serious injury as a result of a dog bite, you will be entitled to collect damages even if you are deemed by the court to be partly responsible for the incident. Your award will, however, be decreased by your percentage of fault as determined by the court.
Unlike states with “modified comparative negligence” laws, in which you cannot collect damages if you’re found to be more than 50 or 51 percent at fault, in California, we follow the rule of “pure comparative negligence.” Therefore, it is possible here to be awarded damages even if you are found to be 99 percent at fault. Nonetheless, you will only win compensation for the part of the incident for which the other party is considered liable. Thus, if you are found to be 70 percent liable, you will only receive 30 percent of the amount the court awards.
Damages Our Dog Bite Attorneys Will Fight to Obtain for You
Dog bites can be very dangerous, even fatal. They may require several surgical procedures, including plastic reconstructive surgery. Once you are our client, we will work tirelessly to get you every dollar you’re entitled to for:
- Medical, surgical, and rehabilitative costs
- Lost wages, present, and future
- Permanent scarring or other disfigurements
- Permanent disability
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral expenses and loss of support and guidance (in cases of wrongful death)
In rare instances in which the dog owner intentionally bred the offending dog to be vicious, or deliberately instigated the dog’s attack, we may also be able to win you punitive damages.
We are well aware that you are going through a painful and challenging period. Besides the physical pain and mental anguish, you may be suffering financially during this time when you are unable to bring in income. Please get in touch with us now — that’s what we’re here for. We will take all legal matters off your shoulders, fight vigorously on your behalf, and give you the legal and moral support you need.
This list isn’t all-inclusive many personal injury suits have been raised based on different factors that aren’t included above. Our team of Los Angeles car accident attorneys can work on cases without anything out of pocket.
We’re old enough to have the necessary experience, yet young enough to use the most cutting-edge technology and tactics, and are determined enough to fight and outsmart the other side, every time.