DOG BITE LAWSUIT: WHAT TO DO AFTER BEING BITTEN BY A DOG
Dogs are commonly known as man’s best friend. Widely-regarded as a friendly and good-natured companion, it is estimated that over 36% of American households own at least one dog. What people tend to forget, however, is that as much as we love them like family – dogs are still animals. Unfortunately, a dog bite is a common fear with owning and interacting with dogs.
Dogs are animals with deeply ingrained instincts to protect themselves and those they are loyal to. Sometimes these instincts are misdirected, leading to dog bites, which are often severe. And dog bites are a serious issue. A dog bite can lead to injection, illness, or even death.
Canine Bites Are On The Rise
If you have been bitten by a dog, you are not alone. According to the CDC, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of those 4.5 million, more than 800,000 victims receive bites severe enough to warrant medical attention.
Statistics have shown that children are most likely to be bitten by dogs. Children make up at least half of all dog bite victims and are far more likely to suffer severe injuries than their adult counterparts. This is due to a number of reasons, including a child’s rough interactions with a dog and their inability to react appropriately to a canine’s warning signs.
Any dog can bite, regardless of breed and temperament. More than half of reported bites happen in the home with a familiar dog.
Dog Bite Injuries
Roughly 1 in 5 people bitten by a dog will require medical attention. As a result, injuries range from minor to severe. Common dog bite injuries include:
- Contusions or abrasions
- Puncture wounds
- Avulsion fracture
- Crushed bone
These injuries can have severe medical repercussions if left untreated. The CDC estimates that up to 18% of dog bites become infected with bacteria. Given that over 60 different kinds of bacteria live inside a dog’s mouth, it is in your best interest to seek treatment as soon as you are bitten. If left untreated, your injury can lead to diseases such as:
- Rabies – almost always fatal once symptoms appear, rabies is a virus that affects the brain and is spread through the bite or saliva of an infected animal. Though it is one of the most serious diseases a person can get from a dog bite, it is also very rare. A timely rabies vaccination eradicates the chances of suffering from this disease.
- Capnocytophaga bacteria – this is spread through bites, scratches, or close contact with a cat or dog. Those with a weakened immune system are at risk of illness when presented with this bacteria.
- Pasteurella External – found in over half of bite wounds, this causes a painful red infection, swollen glands, joint swelling, and difficulty moving.
- MRSA – a staph infection resistant to antibiotics, MRSA causes skin, lung, and urinary tract infections in people. When left untreated, MRSA is carried into the bloodstream, making it life-threatening.
- Tetanus – this toxin causes rigid paralysis in people who have suffered an infection of deep bite wounds.
Dog bite injuries have emotional, medical, legal, and financial ramifications. After seeking medical attention for your injury, it is important to contact an experienced dog bite attorney in order to fully recover from your injuries.
California Dog Bite Law
California is the number one state for dog bite injuries, according to a recent study conducted by insurance provider State Farm. In order to protect its citizens, California has enacted a “strict liability statute” for dog attacks. This statute holds dog owners accountable for the actions of their pet in all cases, the only exception being when the attack is provoked by animal abuse or a criminal act such as trespassing.
California Civil Code Section 3342 states that a dog owner is liable for damages incurred due to a dog bite injury if the bite occurs on public property or lawfully on private property. If the bite occurs because the victim is committing a crime – such as breaking and entering – the owner is not liable.
If you are unsure of liability, a leading California dog bite attorney like Sweet James can evaluate your case and advise on next steps.
Canine Bite Cases – Who’s To Blame?
As we know, the dog’s owner is liable for the actions of their pet unless there is an extenuating circumstance such as crime.
In some cases, property owners can be made liable for a dog bite if the owner is a renter. If you are bitten inside an apartment complex, you could have a claim against the property owner for allowing a dangerous dog to live on the premises.
Dog Bite Insurance
It is estimated that in 2014, the insurance industry paid out more that $530 million in damages in dog bite related claims. Typically, an owner’s homeowners’ insurance policy will cover dog attacks with between $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage. Dog bite cases without insurance coverage hold the dog owner independently liable.
It is not advisable to work with insurance companies without the advice and guidance of a dog bite lawyer. With Sweet James on your team, you can be sure that your lawsuit will be handled from start to finish.
What To Do After A Dog Bite
The steps you take after a dog bite will affect not only your physical and mental health, but your financial health as well. Injuries caused by dogs can be costly, leading to unexpected medical bills, sick leave, and possibly the loss of income. Given the physical and mental trauma associated with bites, it is important that act immediately in order to receive the compensation your are entitled to.
After being bitten by a dog, you should:
- Seek medical care
- Exchange information with the dog owner, including canine vaccination history and the owner’s phone number
- Gather witness information, as their statement will help to provide a more accurate picture of what happened
- Take photos of your injuries
- File a report with Animal Control
- Call Sweet James, one of California’s top dog bite attorneys at (800) 500-5200
If you or a loved one have suffered physical or mental trauma as the result of a dog bite, you may be entitled to monetary damages. In addition, you should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. As one of California’s top leading dog bite lawyers, Sweet James has worked on many canine bite cases, winning his clients the compensation needed to fully recover.
Filing a dog bite claim can be a sensitive decision, as the dog in question is often the pet of a family member, friend, or neighbor. Sweet James has experience in handling delicate matters and can help you win a successful recovery without damaging your relationships. As a victim and survivor, you are not to blame for your injuries and deserve the right to heal unfettered by financial constraints.