If you or your child sustained injuries in an animal attack in California, you could face a daunting, painful recovery. Many dog bites leave permanent scarring and even disability. Psychological trauma is also common, especially for young victims.

Fortunately, California dog bite law place liability for animal attack injuries on the shoulders of the owner. This means you could have the right to pursue legal action and recover compensation for your injuries.

An experienced California dog attack lawyer can help you fight for the justice and the compensation you deserve. At Silva Injury Law, Inc. our legal team help clients throughout California. Contact us online or call (209) 600-4389 now for help.

The Risks And Dangers Of Dog Bites In California

According to the Los Angeles Times, 48,596 Californians visited the emergency room in 2022 for injuries sustained in a dog bite. That works out to 125 visits per 100,000 residents. This figure represents a 70% increase in emergency room visits compared to 2005—the highest figure in 18+ years.

There’s conjecture that an increase in puppy adoptions during the pandemic may be to blame. As many of these dogs lack socialization skills due to being puppies during lockdowns, the fallout is adult dogs that are more inclined to bite.

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health states that animal bites pose a significant threat to public health. These injuries can lead to severe viral and bacterial infections, emotional trauma, and even death. Mild injuries may consist of abrasions, punctures, and scratches. More severe injuries can involve crushed bones and worse, especially in children.

No matter how careful you are, you cannot always protect yourself or your children from an unexpected animal attack. If you or a loved one is injured, however, you can pursue legal action against the animal’s owner.

What Constitutes a Dog Bite?

In California, a dog bite is legally defined as a dog using its teeth to grasp or wound a person, which may or may not break the skin. It’s important to understand that even if a bite does not penetrate the skin, it can still be considered a bite under the law.

This definition is crucial for legal proceedings, as it sets the groundwork for establishing the liability of dog owners. 

Dog bite law in California recognizes the potential for serious injuries from dog bites, ranging from nerve damage and severe bruising to more visible wounds requiring medical intervention. Victims should document any injury, no matter how minor it may seem, as this documentation can be vital in a personal injury claim.

At Silva Injury Law, we advise our clients to seek immediate medical attention for any injury resulting from a dog bite to ensure a thorough medical record is established from the outset.

How California Dog Bite Law Affects Victims

California dog bite law is clear on who has strict liability for any damages that result from an animal attack. California Civil Code 3342 reads, in part, as follows.

“The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place…regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

In some states, animal owners get a pass the first time a dog bites someone. This is known as the “one bite rule.” Fortunately, California law offers no such consideration.

How the Dog Bite Laws In California Affect An Injury Claim

If you suffer injuries from being bitten by a dog, you have the right to compensation. Exceptions to strict liability include cases where you were trespassing, provoking the dog, or committing a crime at the time of the incident. 

Additionally, if injuries were caused not by a bite but by other behaviors such as the dog’s jumping or scratching, you must prove negligence on the part of the dog owner to recover damages. In such cases, you need to show evidence that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to control their animal or prevent the incident, which directly led to the injury.

If your injuries did not directly involve a bite (i.e., you crashed your bicycle trying to flee an attacking dog) you may also have to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner.

After any type of animal attack or bite, contact an experienced injury attorney as quickly as possible. Do not speak to the insurance company or provide any statements until you talk to your lawyer. Otherwise, you could jeopardize your right to compensation.

California Laws on Dangerous Dogs

Specific statutes address the handling and liability associated with “dangerous” or “vicious” dogs. A dog may be classified as dangerous if it has behaved in a way that forced people to defend themselves against it on two separate occasions in a prior 36-month period, or if it has inflicted severe injury or death on a person or domestic animal without provocation. The classification of a dog as vicious can also occur if it has been involved in multiple attacks.

For owners of such dogs, California imposes stringent requirements to mitigate the risk these animals pose to the public. These requirements may include special confinement measures, mandatory use of a leash and muzzle, or even posting warning signs. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to increased legal liability for the owner should the dog cause harm.

In severe cases where a dog poses an imminent threat to safety, the law allows for the animal to be impounded and potentially euthanized. At Silva Injury Law, we are deeply familiar with these laws. We can help victims of attacks by dangerous dogs navigate the legal system to ensure appropriate measures are taken against the animal and its owner, protecting the community and providing relief to the victims.

Claims Involving Non-Biting Injuries

While California’s strict liability dog bite law applies directly to injuries caused by biting, dogs can cause harm in other ways that may also lead to legal claims. For instance, a dog knocks someone over, causing them to sustain injuries. This scenario typically requires the victim to prove that the dog owner was negligent. 

Examples of non-biting injuries could include a dog running into the road, causing a bicycle or car accident, or a dog jumping on a person, causing them to fall and suffer injuries like broken bones or concussions. In these cases, the victim must provide evidence that the owner’s failure to properly manage or secure the dog was the direct cause of their injuries.

At Silva Injury Law, our team helps clients gather the necessary evidence to establish negligence in non-biting injury cases. We work with victims to document their injuries, gather witness statements, and obtain surveillance footage if available. 

Identifying the Dog Owner

Identifying the dog’s owner is a critical component of pursuing a claim. Sometimes, it can be straightforward, such as when the attack occurs in a neighborhood and the dog is known. However, it can also be challenging, particularly if the incident happens in a public place or if the dog escapes from its home.

Silva Injury Law employs various strategies to assist in identifying dog owners:

  • Witness interviews. Information from people who witnessed the incident or are familiar with the dog can help identify the owner.
  • Surveillance footage. Checking for nearby security cameras that might have recorded the incident can provide visual evidence of the attack and help identify the dog and its owner.
  • Veterinarian records. If the dog has been taken to a veterinarian, these records can sometimes be used to trace the owner.
  • Microchip scanning. Scanning for a microchip can provide owner details directly if the dog is captured.
  • Local authorities. Reporting the incident to local animal control or law enforcement can help identify the owner. These agencies can also check if the dog has been involved in previous incidents.

In cases where the owner remains unidentified, Silva Injury Law explores alternative legal avenues to help victims secure compensation for your injuries. Potential claims might include property owners or landlords if negligence in securing the premises contributed to the attack. 

Elements of a Valid Dog Bite Claim

You must satisfy certain legal elements to establish a valid dog bite claim in California. Understanding these elements is crucial if you pursue compensation through a dog bite claim.

Some of the most important aspects of a successful claim include the following:  

  • You must demonstrate that the defendant owns the dog that caused the injury.
  • The dog bite must have occurred in a public place or while you were lawfully present on private property. That includes being on the property as an invited guest, working as a service person, or physically there under any other legal right.
  • You must prove a bite from the dog directly caused your injury. 
  • You must show a lack of provocation. Provocation can negate a claim, as it shifts some responsibility for the incident onto the victim.
  • You must have sustained actual damages from the bite, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering.

When you hire Silva Injury Law to represent you, we will carefully explain all elements of the California dog bite statute and help you gather evidence to build a solid case for damages. 

Types of Recoverable Compensation in a Dog Bite Claim

Victims of dog bites and dog-related injuries in California may be entitled to various types of compensation depending on the specifics of their case. Silva Injury Law assists clients in obtaining total and fair compensation for all damages incurred due to a dog attack.

Here are the primary categories of compensation that may be recoverable in a dog bite claim:

  • Medical expenses: Includes expenses for immediate medical treatment, such as emergency room visits as well as future or ongoing care like surgery, physical therapy, and any necessary medical equipment; 
  • Lost wages: Compensation for lost wages if the victim had to take time off work to recover from their injuries, including of earning capacity if the victim can no longer perform the same work as before the incident; 
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress caused by the attack, including compensation for fear, anxiety, and any psychological therapies required as a result of the trauma; 
  • Property damage: Reimbursement for personal property damaged during the incident, such as clothing or a cell phone; and
  • Punitive damages: In cases where the dog owner’s behavior was particularly reckless or malicious. 

Silva Injury Law is committed to fighting for comprehensive compensation to cover all facets of a victim’s recovery. Our legal team meticulously documents all losses to ensure the insurance company doesn’t overlook any aspect of harm suffered. We negotiate aggressively with insurers and, if necessary, litigate to secure the compensation our clients deserve.

Talk To A California Dog Attack Attorney Today For Help

The experienced California injury lawyers of Silva Injury Law, Inc. understand how devastating a bite injury can be. We offer compassionate, aggressive representation, and we fight to get you the justice you deserve. Even if you aren’t sure you have a valid claim, contact us.

We provide a free consultation to help you explore your options. Please call us or contact us online now to schedule a no-cost consultation and case review or to speak with one of our CA dog attack attorneys for help.

Find Out How We Can Help

At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look out for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances.

Contact us online or call (209) 600-4389 today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.