| Read Time: 3 minutes | Dog Bite

Dog Bite Law: California Punitive Damages

Although dogs are “man’s best friend,” dogs are just one small evolutionary step away from their wild counterparts: wolves. Wolves, of course, are apex predators in the wild. They can easily kill a human being. Because they are so closely related, dogs sometimes attack people. Dog attacks can happen for any number of reasons, including random attacks that appear out of nowhere.  Dog attacks can cause severe injuries and leave lasting emotional scars. If someone’s dog bites and injures you, you should do five things: Seek immediate medical care including a rabies screening; Get information about the dog and its owner; File a police report regarding the attack; Inform your local health department of the attack so they can screen the animal for rabies; and Contact an attorney so you can recover any damages you suffered. It is important to keep in mind that before anything else, you should always seek any necessary emergency medical care. When you get in touch with an attorney after the attack, you should always ask whether punitive damages are possible. Punitive damages often follow different rules than other types of damages, so it is important that you and your lawyer discuss them specifically. What Are Punitive Damages? Punitive damages are a unique form of damages. Most other damage types are compensatory. Their intent is to compensate you, the injured party, for whatever you suffered. Compensatory damages don’t just include medical bills and lost wages. They also include non-economic damages like emotional pain and anguish.  Punitive damages, on the other hand, are a form of non-compensatory damages. The intent behind them is to punish the offending party for acting in a particularly unsavory or dangerous way. In California, as in most other states, the requirements for claiming punitive damages are different from compensatory damages. Often, punitive damages require a claimant to show malice, intent, fraud, or some form of gross negligence on the part of the offending party. When Can I Make a Claim for Punitive Damages After a Dog Attack? In California, you can absolutely make a claim for punitive damages after suffering from a dog attack. To do so, you will need to show clear and convincing evidence of some form of intent, malice, or gross negligence on the part of the dog’s owner. For example, if the dog’s owner orders the attack, you can claim punitive damages. The same applies if the owner does nothing to prevent the attack, if the dog has bitten others in the past, or if the dog has shown repeated signs of overt aggression in the past. If any of those apply to your case, you should include punitive damages in your claim.  Does California Law Limit Punitive Damages? California law does not specifically cap punitive damages, but the amount of punitive damages you can claim is not without limits. Generally, California law limits punitive damages in a given case by saying that they must have a reasonable relationship to the other damages in the case. Thus, if you claim a combined $15,000 worth of compensatory damages, a court will not award you $1 million. Instead, the amount of punitive damages in such a case probably would not exceed $150,000. This 10 to 1 ratio is not steadfast, but you should always take it into account. If You Were Bit by a Dog If a dog bit you in California, call our lawyers today at Silva Injury Law, Inc. We will closely review your case with you to see what sort of damages are applicable. We will always address punitive damages specifically. If your dog attack case meets the standards to include punitive damages, we will include them in your claim. At Silva Injury Law, Inc., we want our clients to feel like family. By ensuring our clients are treated with respect and compassion, we deliver better results. That’s because our clients know they can contact us at any time no matter what question they have. We work throughout the state of California, so no matter where you are in the state, you can give us a call. Get in touch with us today for a consultation on your California dog attack case.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Dog Bite

Dog Bite Law in California

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’s dog bite laws 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. A California dog attack lawyer can help you get justice and the compensation you deserve. At Silva Injury Law, Inc. our attorneys help clients in Monterey, Modesto, and throughout California. Contact us now for help. The Risks and Dangers of Dog Bites in California State Farm Insurance previously reported that California leads the nation in the number of annual dog bites. In 2017 alone, State Farm paid out almost $19 million in claims to animal attack victims in California. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one in five bite victims requires medical treatment for their injuries. 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. 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. The law 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—with few exceptions, i.e., you were trespassing on the owner’s property or otherwise breaking the law. If your injuries did not directly involve a bite (i.e., you crashed your bicycle trying to flee an attacking dog) you may have to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner. This might involve demonstrating how an owner failed to act reasonably to control the dog. A dog attack lawyer can assist you in this pursuit. 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. 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.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Dog Bite

How to Report a Dog Bite in California

Dogs are humankind’s best friend, but they are still animals that can cause serious damage if not kept under control. Suffering from a dog attack is a very traumatizing experience. Aside from the physical pain and healing you have to go through, dog attacks can cost a lot of money. Even worse, once your physical injuries heal, you might still have psychological trauma that can last a lifetime.  Dog attacks are fatal in some instances, so it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible after suffering a bite. After seeking immediate medical treatment, one of the most important things that you should do after a dog attacks you is report the dog attack to the proper authorities.  Why Is Reporting a Dog Attack so Important? Reporting dog attacks is very important because it helps the government hold dog owners accountable for their animals’ actions. Reporting dog attacks helps ensure that others don’t have to go through the same trauma you did. Thanks to people reporting bites, authorities can keep track of dangerous animals who show a pattern of aggression and protect public safety by dealing with them accordingly. Furthermore, if you plan to file a claim for damages against the dog’s owner, you will want to have an official record of the bite. To top things off, if you are bitten by a dog in California, you have a legal obligation to report the bite to the proper authorities. In this piece, we will discuss reporting dog attacks in California so you can do the right thing if a dog attacks you. Reporting a Dog Attack in California In California, you should report any dog attack to two different authorities. First, you should call the police after you are bitten by a dog. When you call the police, you should file a police report including the name of the dog’s owner, their contact information, any information you have about the dog, and a description of what happened. Ideally, you should include photographs of your injuries and a medical record of those injuries in your police report. Including any and all relevant information in your report will help ensure that you can recover compensation for all the damages you suffer as a result of the bite. Second, and equally important, you should notify your local health department of the dog attack. Both you, as the victim, and the owner of the dog have a legal obligation to report the bite to your local health department. If you aren’t sure what number to call, you can find a directory of all local California health departments here. Once you report the attack, the local health department will conduct its own investigation to verify what happened, evaluate the consequence of the attack, point you in the right direction to seek proper medical care, and impose any relevant consequences on the dog owner and their animal. At the very least, dog owners whose animals attack others are required to quarantine the animal for at least 10 days to ensure the animal is not rabid. Get the Justice You Deserve If someone else’s dog attacks you and you suffer injury, the dog’s owner must compensate you for any damages you suffer. The best way to make sure that you recover all the damages you suffer is to retain the services of a personal injury attorney with specific experience with dog attacks. Our team of attorneys at Silva Injury Law, Inc. has considerable experience helping clients recover from dog attacks. Not only will we help you recover the damages you are owed, we will connect you with the right medical providers, including mental health professionals, so that you can fully recover from your injuries. Our founding attorney, Michael Joe Silva, has the experience necessary to help you with all stages of your case. Michael Joe has sat on both sides of civil litigation and has served as a district attorney, so he has an extensive base of courtroom knowledge to draw upon. Our primary goal is compassionate advocacy. We want you to know that we are always here to help our clients, no matter what you need. Let us help you recover from the vicious attack you suffered; contact us today for a free consultation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Dog Bite

Dog Bite Statute of Limitations in California

If you’ve suffered injuries after a dog attack, you have the right to seek compensation. However, you will not have forever to file your claim. After a dog attack, be sure to consult with a California dog attack attorney right away. Silva Injury Law, Inc. is ready to help you. What Is a Statute of Limitations? A statute of limitations is a law restricting the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. The length of time provided by the statute of limitations will depend on the type of case and jurisdiction in which you wish to file your claim. Statutes of limitations typically range from two to four years.  The Statute of Limitations for Dog Attack Cases in California In California, the statute of limitations for dog attack cases is two years. Therefore, you have two years from the date of the incident to file your claim. However, if the victim is not aware of their injuries, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the victim discovers or should have reasonably discovered their injuries. When Does Tolling Occur? When a statute of limitations is “tolled,” it is legally suspended for some valid reason. Tolling for dog attack cases typically occurs for one of the following reasons: The dog attack victim is under 18 at the time of the incident; The victim suffers from a mental incapacity; or The dog owner or party responsible for the dog has left the state.  Once the situation has been resolved, the statute of limitations will begin running. For example, if the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations will begin running once they turn 18. What Happens If You Fail to File Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out? Your best course of action includes filing your lawsuit well before the statute of limitations expires. This limits the risk of losing your opportunity to file your claim. If you fail to file your claim within the specified time, you will forfeit your right to seek compensation. While you are still allowed to file your lawsuit, a judge will more than likely throw out your case. Don’t give up your chance to get financial recovery for your dog attack injuries. Consult with a California dog attack lawyer right away to begin working on your case as soon as possible. Let a California Dog Attack Attorney Help You The best way to ensure you get your fair shot at financial compensation for your injuries is to contact a dog attack lawyer to discuss your case. Your legal practitioner will work with you every step of the way, providing fierce legal representation in an effort to reach a fair settlement. Silva Injury Law, Inc. is ready to help you fight for the recovery you need and deserve. Our firm takes on even the most challenging cases, working diligently to get the fairest possible outcome. We’re proud to serve multiple California communities and protect the rights of injured parties. Contact us today, and let’s discuss your case.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Dog Bite

Dog Bite Settlement Amounts in California

After a dog attack, you may be entitled to compensation. However, you might be unfamiliar with settlements and how they work in dog attack cases. Silva Injury Law, Inc. is here to answer any questions you may have and help you fight for a fair settlement in your case. What Is a Settlement in a Lawsuit? In a lawsuit, your case may not have to go all the way to court to reach a resolution. Many times, your case may settle and you will receive an agreed-upon amount of compensation. A settlement is reached when both parties negotiate and come to an agreement.  Your dog attack attorney will work diligently to try to reach the fairest possible settlement. If both sides cannot agree, your case may need to go to trial. If that is the case, your lawyer will continue to represent you until the very end, in hopes of a fair resolution.  Compensation for Dog Attack Cases Damages after a dog attack serve to compensate victims after suffering injuries and incurring expenses. Depending on the circumstances of your case, damages may include: Medical expenses, Lost wages, Lost earning potential, Pain and suffering, Mental and emotional anguish, and Disfigurement. Your dog attack lawyer will gather the relevant documentation and evidence to determine how much you are entitled to. You can expect your lawyer to fight for your rights to just compensation.  Is There an Average Dog Attack Settlement? No two dog attacks are the same, and every case is unique. Therefore, there is no “average” settlement for dog attack cases. The value of your case will depend on certain factors, the greatest one being your injuries and medical expenses. Typically, the more severe your injuries, the higher the medical bills, and the more compensation you may be entitled to recover. How to Determine the Value of a Dog Attack Case Many factors play a role in determining how much your dog attack case is worth. Some of the most common factors that could affect dog attack settlements include: The age of the victim; The severity of the injuries; The amount of expenses incurred; Permanent disabilities or disfigurement; and Long-term effects of the incident. Your dog attack attorney will carefully examine the details of your case to assign a value to your case. They will determine the exact amount of damages that is fair for your particular situation. Do You Need to Prove Anything in a Dog AttackCase? California Civil Code Section 3342 imposes strict liability for dog attack cases. This means victims of dog attacks do not have to prove negligence to seek compensation. The only thing you must show is that the dog attacked you, either in a public location or while you were lawfully on someone’s property, regardless of the dog’s viciousness or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.  Let a California Dog Attack Attorney Help You Silva Injury Law, Inc. has had the privilege of representing countless injured victims in California. We understand the frustrations and financial stresses that a dog attack can bring, and we’re ready to help you get on the road to recovery. Contact our firm today to begin working on your case.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Dog Bite

Defenses to Dog Bite Claims in California

When someone is bitten by a dog in California, it is common that the dog’s owners will be held strictly liable for any injuries which result from the bite. There are, however, a number of exceptions which exist that may decrease the liability of the owner.   If you have been involved in a dog bite accident, reach out to an attorney at Silva Injury Law who can help ensure you are fairly and adequately represented.   UNDERSTANDING STRICT LIABILITY   In California, the statute relevant to dog bites makes clear that a dog owner can be held strictly liable when their dog causes any injury. This requires the owner to be responsible for compensation for injuries if the dog was owned by the defendant, the victim was on public property or on private property with permission or invitation, the victim was actually bitten by the defendant’s dog and the victim sustained an injury from the bite.   There is not a “one free bite” rule in California, so even if a dog has not bitten anyone before or shown any vicious tendencies, the owner cannot avoid liability. There are, however, a number of defenses which may reduce or rid the owner of liability.   POTENTIAL DEFENSES   The Bite The statute refers very specifically to dog bites, so it is necessary that the injury sustained was from an actual bite. If the victim was knocked over or jumped on by the dog, then the statute does not apply. Even if a dog’s action of jumping or knocking over a victim, and this causes an injury, the victim may not be able to recover under strict liability.   It is not necessary for the dog bite to break the skin to qualify under the statute. If, because of the bite, a victim experiences nerve damage or bruising rather than broken skin, this is sufficient to satisfy the statute.   Trespass In order to recover for the dog bite under strict liability, it is necessary that the victim was either on public property or lawfully on private property when the attack took place. If the victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the accident, the trespass will constitute a defense for a claim of strict liability.   Assuming the Risk If the victim of the dog bite assumed the risk then this will bar their recovery under the strict liability statute. To assume the risk essentially means that the victim consented to participate in an activity wherein they knew of the dangerous nature and potential outcome. As this relates to dog bites, if a victim interacts with a dog despite being informed by an owner of its potential to bite, or if the victim ignores a “beware of dog” sign, these will prevent a victim from recovering under strict liability. This defense is also applicable to those who work with an assume control of the dog, such as groomers, trainers, veterinarian, etc.   Provocation If the victim provokes the dog attack by teasing, hitting, abusing, tormenting, or chasing the animal, they may not sue under strict liability. Even when the provocation is unintentional, such as disturbing a dog’s food, invading its space, or stepping on it or its tail may be a sufficient defense.   This does not apply to children under the age of 5, however, as they are not old enough to know to avoid provoking an animal.   CONTACT AN ATTORNEY   If you have been injured in a dog bite accident, reach out today to the attorneys at Silva Injury Law, who can assess your case and help you receive the compensation you are entitled to.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Dog Bite

California Dog Bite Law: When Bite Occurs on Private vs. Public Property

According to the California Department of Public Health, there are around five million people who suffer a dog bite injury every single year in the United States. While some dog bites are minor, some bites are serious and can require treatment. When children are involved in a dog bite incident it may become fatal.   If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dog bite, reach out to an attorney at Silva Injury Law who can ensure that you are fairly compensated for any pain, suffering, and damages that resulted from the dog bite.   CALIFORNIA LAWS RELATED TO DOG BITES   California law has addressed the issue of liability in dog bite cases. The law is clear that the owner of the dog is liable for injuries from a dog bite when 1) their dog was the cause of the injuries, and 2) the person who was injured was in a public place, or was legally in a private place when the bite took place.   It is important to note that the law only covers injuries that are a result of a dog bite. These laws do not apply the same in situations of a dog jumping, running into people, or scratching.   THE LOCATION THE BITE OCCURRED   The location that the bite takes place, whether on private or public property, can impact whether or not an owner is liable for the injuries resulting from the dog bite. In order for the dog owner to be held liable for the various damages resulting from a dog bite, it must occur on either public property, or on private property where the victim was permitted to be. Therefore, if you were walking on a public sidewalk, or in a public park, you can seek compensation for any injuries resulting from the dog bite. Additionally, if you were lawfully on another person’s property for any reason, and you were attacked and bitten by a dog, you can obtain compensation for the injuries obtained.   Therefore, when a person who was injured by the dog bite was illegally on the property, either by trespassing or entertaining private property without permission, they may not have a claim for the injury at all.   HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED BY A DOG BITE   If you have been injured in a dog bite attack, an attorney can help you obtain the financial reimbursement to cover the necessary medical and psychological treatment to heal from the attack. The law in California allows that victims of a dog bite attack are able to seek compensation for their injuries. Compensation can include reimbursement for the following:   Past, present, and future medical expenses Lost wages for time missed due to the attack and necessary requirement Pain and suffering, both physical and emotional Loss of earning potential Property damage.   If you or your child were injured by a dog bite, reach out to an attorney at Silva Injury Law who is experienced representing victim of dog bites and can ensure you are adequately compensated for your pain and suffering.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Dog Bite

California Dog Bite Injury – What’s my Case Potentially Worth?

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.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Dog Bite

How Can I Collect Compensation for A Dog Bite In California?

  If you’ve been seriously injured by a dog attack in California, you can collect compensation from the owner of the dog, or anybody else that had custody or control of the animal at the time of the attack. As long as you were lawfully on the property, you can make a claim under California’s “strict liability” code for pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost earnings, and other damages. If you’ve been a victim of a dog bite in California, it’s important that you speak to an experienced California dog bite attorney, as soon as possible, to discuss your claim.   California Holds Dog Owners Strictly Liable California Civil Code  §3342 imposes strict liability for dog bites in California. This means that a dog owner is responsible for injuries caused by their dog, even if the dog has no history of being aggressive and has never bit anybody before. This applies not just to the dog owner, but to any person that’s in charge of the dog at the time of the attack. If the attacks take place at somebody’s home, the homeowner or renter’s insurance policy will cover the loss, and a business’s insurance will similarly provide coverage. Trespassers are excluded from collecting under strict liability, but can make a claim if an owner intentionally prompted his dog to attack you, even though you posed no imminent risk.   When Would I Be Barred From Suing? California’s strict liability applies only when an innocent person is attacked by a dog. If the owner can show that your injury was a result of your teasing or abuse of their dog, your claim will be barred. The best way to assess the strength of your claim is to speak to a California dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after a dog attack. If you or a family member have recently been bitten by a dog and are wondering what your options are, give us a call at (209) 600-4389 to set-up a free consultation. At Silva Injury Law Inc., our philosophy of legal practice is one of individual attention to each client. We focus on promoting healing through compassionate advocacy.  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Dog Bite

Beware of Dog…

I love dogs as much as the next person. As a matter of fact, I love all animals. Growing up, I was very fascinated with animals, a love I have to this day. I still look forward to watching Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin sharing their animal adventures every Saturday morning while jogging on a treadmill at my local Planet Fitness club. However, the reality is, dogs can behave in a dangerous manner, even when they’re unprovoked. If you own a dog, live near someone who owns a dog, or interact with any dogs no matter how remote the circumstances present themselves, this blog post is for you!   Dogs can bite! When they do, it can be devastating. When was the last time you read or saw in the news, “Child mauled to death by dog”. Probably not that long ago. I’ve represented several people who have been mauled by a dog or had a child mauled by a dog. The injuries are often times devastating. Physical scars remain for years as a constant reminder of the traumatic event suffered by the victim. A common response by the dog owner is, “My dog has never ever behaved in that manner. He/She is a very nice pooch.” This fact does not get a dog owner off the hook when it comes to their legal responsibility for their dog.   California is a statutory strict liability state. California’s dog bite law makes the owner of a dog strictly liable for any dog bite from the moment the person owns the dog, provided that the victim was not trespassing, provoking the dog, injured by his employer’s dog while on the job, or performing a paid service involving the dog. The victim is not required to prove negligence or anything else.   If you own a dog, it is imperative that you have some type of insurance to cover you in the event your dog attacks another person. Oftentimes, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, you should be covered. Make sure to check your policy to ensure that you are protected. If you or a family member have been attacked by a dog, contact a personal injury lawyer today. CALL SILVA INJURY LAW TO DISCUSS YOUR CASE IF YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER HAVE BEEN ATTACKED BY A DOG. ALL LEGAL CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE!

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