According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about four and a half million dog bites occur each year in the United States, with close to a million requiring medical attention. The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that close to $100,000,000 a year is paid out to dog bite injury victims. Most dog bites cause only minor injuries, but in some cases, they can cause disfigurement and long-term disability. That’s why it’s important to consult with an experienced California dog bite injury attorney that can help you determine what your case is worth.
Dog Owners Are “Strictly Liable” In California
California’s strict liability for dog bites law holds owners responsible for the damages caused by their dog’s bite as long as the victim was legally on the property where they were bitten. Unlike some states, it is not necessary to prove that the dog had vicious propensities or had ever bitten anybody else. The liability of the owner extends to anybody charged with the responsibility of caring for the dog such as a friend, neighbor or dog walker. The major exceptions are for dogs that were performing military or police duty when the accident occurred.
What About Support Dogs?
Emotional support animals are not required to undergo specific training in California, so it’s not uncommon for them to attack people. Despite the protections afforded people with disabilities that require the use of an emotional support animal, they can still be held liable when their dogs attack others. If the owner of an emotional support animal refuses to provide you with information, you may need to call 911 for assistance.
Medical Treatment After A Dog Bite
It’s important to seek treatment immediately after a dog bite due to the risk of infection. The saliva can contain bacteria that can multiply quickly and cause major complications and there is always the risk of rabies if you don’t know the owner. Some injuries from dog bites can cause life threatening loss of blood from deep wounds, fractures, dislocations, and cosmetically sensitive injuries that require immediate attention from a plastic surgeon. Follow up treatment for wound care and other injuries is usually required.
Assessing the Value of a Dog Bite Injury
Minor bites in areas that are not cosmetically sensitive usually resolve quickly and result in settlements of $50,000 or less. Victims that have been severely bitten on the face can receive very large amounts of compensation for the pain, suffering and humiliation they will face for the rest of their lives. Settlements and verdicts for facial disfigurement can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, even more if the victim is young, single and female. In between these two extremes there are many victims that have scars in less prominent areas and lost time from work as a result of their dog bite injury. It’s important to speak to an experienced California dog bite injury attorney about your particular case.