What Should be Done After a Dog Bite or Attack?
There are certain steps to take after a dog bite or attack to protect the victim from further injuries and help them obtain compensation. First, seek medical attention, even if the bite doesn’t seem severe. Use pressure to minimize blood loss for a bite that breaks the skin and clean thoroughly with soap and water. If the wound requires emergency medical care, this should be done immediately to minimize long-term damages. It is important to seek medical attention for even small wounds if the rabies vaccination status of the dog is unknown, as dogs can pass rabies to humans.
Once the medical care is handled, take time to document the attack. Try to get as much information as possible from the other dog, such as information about the dog’s vaccination status and the owner’s insurance policy if applicable. It’s also a good idea to document the injuries with photographs and to take a photo of the dog, if possible. Next, contact the police or animal services. This can help create a record of the attack and will help if the owner is reluctant to provide information about their dog or insurance. Depending on the severity of the bite or attack, the dog may be taken by animal services to prevent future attacks.
As soon as possible, it is recommended to speak with a lawyer about the situation. The victim may be entitled to compensation for their injuries, which can help cover medical and other expenses resulting from the bite. It is important to do this as soon as possible, so the lawyer can start working on the case right away.
Types of Injuries Dogs Can Cause
Dog bites can be incredibly severe based on how the dog bites and how many times they bite. Injuries can include scarring, broken bones, infections, skin injuries, and more. On top of the physical injuries the victim can sustain, it’s possible to get diseases from the dog, including rabies, through any bites. If the vaccination status of the dog cannot be provided, it may be necessary to start the rabies treatment. If this is not started in time, rabies is fatal once symptoms show. It’s always better to err on the side of caution if there is a possibility of contracting rabies. Dog bites and attacks can also lead to psychological trauma for the injured party, which can mean therapy will be needed.
Determining Liability for Dog Bite Injuries
California has strict liability for dog bites. This means the owner or whoever is in control of the dog at the time of the bite is liable, regardless of the situation. Dog owners should always make sure the pet is under their control to prevent bites and if bites are a known risk, it is important to keep the dog away from others or otherwise secure the pet so they can’t bite anyone. Even if precautions are taken, however, the person in control of the dog at the time of the bite will be liable for any injuries. Depending on the situation, the liable party could be the owner, a dog walker, a pet sitter, a veterinarian, or anyone else who has the dog with them.
Are There Exceptions to Liability?
There are two primary exceptions for strict liability. If the dog is working and the bite occurs as a part of their official duties on the job, the owner or handler may not be liable. This comes into play when the dog is working for a government agency such as the police and is carrying out official duties. It does not come into play if the dog is not at work or there was no action to prompt the bite while working. The other exception is when the victim is trespassing. Property owners do not have to make sure the property is safe for trespassers. If someone enters a property without the owner’s consent and is bit by a dog, the owner may not be liable for any injuries sustained, as the trespasser was not supposed to be on the property.
Compensation After a Dog Bite or Attack
There are various types of compensation available after a dog bite and the amount can vary from case to case, so it is important for any victim to seek legal advice before accepting a settlement. Some of the common types of compensation include the following.
Medical Expenses – Medical expenses include any bills for emergency medical care as well as future expenses to continue caring for the injuries sustained during the attack. If someone is permanently injured, for instance, there may be many future medical bills to consider when determining compensation.
- Lost Wages – If someone misses work to recover from a dog bite or attack, they may be able to obtain compensation for the time they could not work.
- Diminished Earnings – If someone is permanently injured as a result of a dog bite and can no longer work in their industry, they may be able to receive compensation for not being able to earn as much money in the future as they did before the bite occurred.
- Pain and Suffering – Pain and suffering is a non-quantifiable type of compensation that can be requested on top of the quantifiable damages and is intended as a way to make up for the financial and other losses as a result of the injuries.
- Scar Treatments – Scars are common after dog bites, but there are treatments available to reduce the appearance of scars. This type of treatment can be included in the compensation for dog bite cases.
- Mental Trauma – Someone who has been bitten or attacked by a dog could end up having trauma as a result, and this can impact their daily life. Compensation for this includes payments to cover therapy and related expenses.
- Other Compensation – Depending on the case, there may be other types of compensation, as well. It is always a good idea to speak with a lawyer to determine if more compensation is possible.
Understanding the Laws and How They Can Impact a Case
There are laws for dog ownership within Los Angeles that all owners must follow. Dogs must be licensed, which requires showing the dog was spayed or neutered and that they have received a rabies vaccination. It is possible to avoid spaying or neutering the dog, but the exemption does cause the fee for the license to increase. The proof of vaccination can be crucial if a dog bite does occur, as it can provide relief to the victim that they do not have to worry about getting rabies. It is important to note that the rabies vaccination does need to be done regularly, with the amount of time between shots depending on the type of vaccine given.
The city also has leash laws. If the dog is not inside the home or a fenced-in yard, it must be on a leash and in the control of the owner or handler at all times. The exception to this is at dog parks, where the pets can be off-leash in a fenced-in area. The dog does still need to be under the control of the owner, as dog bites can occur in dog parts and related places. There are limitations on where a dog can be taken in public, but if the pet is in any store or restaurant, it must be on a leash at all times.
Dog bites can easily be very severe and can lead to lasting injuries as well as trauma. If you’ve been injured by a dog bite or attack, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. A lawyer can help you get the full amount of compensation you are owed, so you don’t have to pay medical expenses or other costs out of your pocket. Call us today to set up a consultation and talk about your case further, so we can start helping you get the compensation you need.
FAQs About Dog Bite Injuries
Since dog bites can be severe, there is the potential for victims to obtain compensation for any injuries. It is recommended you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after the attack to learn more about what can be done in your case. However, before your consultation, read through the following frequently asked questions and answers to learn a little more about what to expect.
Who Pays Compensation for a Dog Bite?
The person liable for the injuries pays the compensation. This is typically the dog’s owner but could be another party such as a dog walker who was in control of the dog at the time. In many cases, the liable party’s insurance company will cover the compensation, but there are instances where an insurance company may not be involved and the liable party will need to cover expenses out of pocket.
Do the Injuries Need to be Severe to Request Compensation?
No. Physical injuries do not have to be severe for the victim to obtain compensation. On top of physical injuries, victims can suffer emotional trauma that may require therapy. The victim can obtain compensation for these expenses, even if the injuries they sustained were not considered severe or did not require medical attention to treat.
Who is Liable for Any Injuries Sustained During a Dog Attack?
The person in control of the dog is liable for any injuries. California operates under strict liability for dog bites, so it is not necessary to prove the owner or handler was negligent, just that they were supposed to be in control of the dog when the bite occurred.
Do Dogs Need to be Kept on a Leash?
Yes. Local laws require dogs to be kept in a fenced-in yard or on a leash when they’re off the property. If the dog is in a dog park, they can be off the leash inside the fenced-in area of the park. Along with being on a leash, the dog needs to be under the control of the owner. They shouldn’t be able to pull the leash away from the owner and cause an attack.
Are There Limitations on Liability?
There are some exceptions to the strict liability, such as when the dog is working in an official capacity or when the victim is bit while trespassing. If the dog is working for a government agency and the bite occurred within the scope of their work, the owner may not be liable. If the dog is inside the owner’s home and under the control of the owner but bites someone who comes onto the property without permission, the owner may not be liable for any injuries.
What Evidence is Needed to Obtain Compensation?
Victims will want to gather any evidence that might be needed, but a lawyer can help with this, as well. Evidence can include photos of the dog, photos of the injuries, video footage of the attack, or anything else the victim has available to them. If the owner claims the victim was trespassing, it can be helpful to have proof this is not the case for the victim to obtain compensation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Victims of dog bites generally have two years to file a claim. It is crucial to file within this period as a failure to do so could mean the victim isn’t able to receive compensation for their injuries. A lawyer can help ensure the claim is filed on time to avoid potential problems.
Is It a Good Idea to Accept a Settlement?
It is not recommended for anyone to accept the first settlement offered by the owner’s insurance company. If the dog bite is covered by the insurance company, it is likely the first settlement offer will be the smallest amount the company thinks the victim will accept. If this amount is accepted and doesn’t cover all of the related expenses, the victim cannot request further compensation because the claim is already paid out.
How Long Will it Take to Receive Compensation?
The amount of time it takes to receive compensation can vary from case to case and depends on several factors. If there are no mitigating circumstances and the owner does not try to deny liability, it is possible negotiations can go quickly and the victim can receive compensation faster. This can take longer if the owner denies being liable, if it is necessary to negotiate with the insurance company more to get a higher settlement, or if it’s necessary to take the case to trial to gain compensation. A lawyer can provide victims with more information regarding how long it might take to receive the settlement amount.
Who Can Help With a Dog Bite Case?
After being bit by a dog, it’s a good idea for the victim to work with a lawyer. The lawyer can help prove liability, help show how much compensation is needed for the victim, and more. The attorney will also help make sure the claim is filed before the statute of limitations runs out, ensuring the victim doesn’t have to forgo the case simply because they waited too long to file. Lawyers can also handle any questions their clients may have, allowing the victim to get more information about their situation and potential outcomes.
How Do I Afford a Lawyer to Look at the Case?
Dog bite cases are generally handled on a contingency basis. This means the victim does not pay to hire a lawyer. Instead, the funds to cover legal expenses will come out of the settlement offer. The liable party will end up paying a higher settlement amount if a lawyer is involved because that is one of the expenses covered in the compensation. Dog bite victims do not have to worry about whether they can afford to hire a lawyer since they can work with one and the fees are paid by the liable party.
If you’ve suffered an injury or injuries after being bit by a dog, it’s time to seek legal help now. After getting medical attention for the injuries, work with a lawyer to learn more about your case and what to expect as everything moves forward. We can help you get more compensation and ensure everything is covered so you don’t have to worry about current or future expenses related to the incident. Call us now to set up a consultation and get answers to any other questions you might have.