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Modesto Dog Bite Lawyers

Experienced Modesto Dog Bite Attorney Ready To Serve You

Being the victim of a dog attack or bite can be very traumatic. These dog attacks can often involve children.

You or your loved one may have large medical bills, pain, and emotional trauma. If you or a loved one suffered injuries after being attacked by a dog or another animal, you may be able to make a claim against the pet owner and their insurance company.

Silva Injury Law, Inc. has experience handling dog attacks and dog bite cases in Modesto, CA. Typically, these cases are covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Our firm is skilled at getting the facts and holding the responsible party and their insurance company accountable for your damages. Contact one of our Modesto dog bite attorneys today to get started on your case.

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California Dog Bite Laws

California subscribes to a theory of strict liability in dog bite cases. In other words, California law holds an owner liable for the actions of their pet, even if the pet has never previously shown aggressive behavior. Other states implement a “one bite rule.” This rule states that owners can only be liable for injuries when they know that their dog has a history of biting.

The California dog bite law states that dog owners are responsible for the harms and losses of a person bitten by their dog when:

  • The dog’s actions caused the injury; and
  • The victim was in a public area or lawfully in a private area.

Therefore, pet owners can defeat strict liability if their dog bit a victim who had no legal right to be in the area. Otherwise, trespassers suffering injuries from overly protective pets could hold pet owners liable for their injuries.

A Modesto dog bite lawyer can explain the possible defenses available to pet owners in a dog bite claim.

What if the Victim Provoked My Dog?

Provocation operates as a defense to liability under California’s dog bite statute. Things qualifying as provocation include when the victim:

  • Hits your dog;
  • Teases your dog with food; and
  • Uses their own pet to instigate a confrontation with your dog.

Likewise, the law bars recovery of damages if a dog bites you because you provoked it.

What if Another Dog Bit My Dog?

California’s strict liability statute applies specifically to dogs biting people. The American judicial system considers pets to be the personal property of their owner. Thus, if your pet suffered injuries caused by another person’s pet, a civil claim for trespass to chattels may apply.

California Rules for Dogs After Attacks

California law requires animals who have bitten a person to be quarantined, typically for a period of ten days. The county monitors the pet during the quarantine period for signs of rabies. Following the quarantine period, pets return to their owner’s property if they are considered healthy.

California permits euthanization of biting animals only in situations when:

  • The animal has bitten someone on at least two separate occasions; and
  • The animal was trained to fight, attack, or kill and then bit someone who sustained substantial physical injury.

The law does not require euthanasia in these circumstances. Instead, euthanasia is a last resort used only when the pet owner cannot remove the danger posed by the animal. If your dog injured someone, a Modesto dog injury attorney can explain how to get your pet back home, and how to defend against any dog bit claims.

Recovery In A Dog Bite Injury In California:

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a dog attack caused by someone else’s negligence, available damages include:

  • Past and future medical bills;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future earning capacity; and
  • Pain and suffering.

While no amount of money will ever make up for the traumatic experience after a serious dog bite or animal attack injury, filing a claim for damages can help ease some of the worry and stress.

What Injuries Commonly Occur in Dog Bite Cases?

Dog bites inflict significant injuries on people. This is especially true for children who are less likely to know how to behave around dogs, making them more prone to dog bites. Common injuries caused by dog bites include:

  • Puncture wounds;
  • Lacerations;
  • Broken bones;
  • Loss of limb;
  • Infections;
  • Disfigurement; or
  • Torn ligaments.

Dog owners are liable for injuries caused by the dog bite itself, as well as injuries suffered in an attempt to prevent a dog bite.

What Should I Do After a Dog Bite?

Dog attacks and bites occur in many situations and are often over in the blink of an eye. The stress and trauma of the situation limit a victim’s ability to collect information at the scene. If possible, take the following steps in the wake of a dog attack to prepare your case for court.

Seek Medical Attention

Dog attacks result in devastating injuries, particularly when the victim is a child. Any injuries suffered due to a dog attack should be treated immediately to prevent the spread of bacteria. Medical records detailing the treatment you received after the attack provide critical evidence that the dog did, in fact, bite you or your loved one.

Contact Authorities

After suffering injuries in a dog attack, contact your local police department or animal control authorities. Police officers can gather a good bit of information when completing an incident report. Your Modesto dog bite lawyer can obtain the police report to establish the facts of the incident. These facts can include:

  • The location where the dog bite occurred;
  • Whether the victim provoked the attack;
  • Names and contact information of the parties involved;
  • The circumstances as interpreted by the officer completing the report; or
  • Contact information for witnesses to the attack.

A police report alleviates your burden of seeking this information on your own.

Gather Evidence

If possible, collect evidence at the scene of the attack. Take pictures of the area where the dog bite occurred and of the bite itself. If witnesses observed the attack, request statements detailing what they saw and get their contact information.

Do I Need to File a Police Report to Sue?

After a dog bite, there’s no California law requiring you to file a police report. But it may help your case if you file a lawsuit. If the dog has a history of dangerous behavior with your local animal control agency, this fact may support your claim for damages. For example, if an animal control officer notified an owner that their dog is dangerous, the dog owner must take additional precautions in containing their pet. If they fail to take any action, this may also open the door for you to file punitive damages for your injuries.

Does California’s Homeowners Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Although some homeowners insurance policies cover dog bites, review your homeowners insurance policy carefully to determine coverage. For example, some insurance companies may require you to affirmatively opt into dog bite coverage, resulting in an increase in your premium. Additionally, some homeowners insurance policies implement breed restrictions. If an insurance company concludes certain breeds of dog hold a dangerous reputation or exhibit a pattern of violence, the policy coverage may exclude these breeds.

Liability insurance may also cover dog bites. Liability insurance provides third-party coverage to a person harmed or injured on your premises. However, determine the extent of your coverage by speaking with an insurance agent and carefully reviewing your policy.

How Long Do I Have to Sue for a Dog Bite in California?

California law provides a statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit. A statute of limitations is the timeframe permitted for someone to file a lawsuit against another. If you fail to take action within these time limits, the law bars you from filing a lawsuit. California law provides for a two-year statute of limitations for dog bite lawsuits. Therefore, you must file your lawsuit within two years from the date of your dog bite.

Despite this seemingly long period of time, it’s recommended to promptly file a lawsuit against a dog owner. Quickly gathering crucial evidence supporting your claim and obtaining witness statements while memories are fresh assist in creating a stronger claim.

In some situations, the statute of limitations may toll, or pause, for a period of time. For example, the statute of limitations does not begin running for a child bit by a dog until the child reaches the age of 18.

What If I Was Attacked by a Dog but Not Bitten?

Have you had an experience where a dog attacked you but didn’t bite you? For example, what if a dog runs into the street and chases you as you ride by on your bicycle? While the dog didn’t bite you, the fear of a dog chasing you caused you to lose control of your bicycle and suffer injuries. Technically, this is not a dog bite. However, you may recover compensation if you prove the dog owner’s negligence caused your injuries—in this example, if a dog owner failed to use reasonable care in containing their dog on their property.

Contact a Modesto Dog Bite Attorney

In extreme cases, dog bites result in lifelong disabilities and heaps of medical debt. Victims of dog bites often suffer serious harm and emotional trauma that can last years. Our Modesto dog injury lawyers have handled multiple California dog bite cases and we know how to vigorously defend your claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Our experienced legal team also handles other types of injury cases, including:

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Promoting Healing Through Compassionate Advocacy

We believe that our duty goes beyond achieving large monetary awards for our clients. We strive first to be decent human beings who seek not to stir up fights, but to solve problems.

As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be enough business.

- Abraham Lincoln