Dog bites can cause serious injuries; besides lacerations, victims can experience disfigurement, scarring, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. Studies have revealed that 4.7 million Americans a year are bitten by dogs. One-fifth of these dog bites result in injuries serious enough for medical attention and more than 29,000 reconstructive surgeries related to dog bites are performed annually. Such injuries can have a crippling effect on an injured victim’s life; therefore, he or she is justified in seeking compensation from the responsible party.
Navigating the legal maze to get your medical bills paid and obtain a fair recovery for your injuries can be complicated. Having an experienced Sacramento Dog Bite Injury Attorney by your side can ease the process. If you, or someone you love has suffered serious injuries from a dog bite call John M. O’Brien & Associates at 916-714-8200 for legal help.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
One of the first things a victim may question is why the injury occurred. The reality is that dog bites can happen at any time and, regardless of the of breed, dogs are not always predictable. Animal specialists and pet behavioralists have studied domesticated dogs to see what induces a dog to bite; we have summarized the top 5 reasons here:
Protection of its “property” is a common reason for a dog to bite. Its “property” can range from the home, yard, furniture, toy, food, or even a human being.
Dogs can bite when they have been startled or are scared. Fear is usually directed towards strangers and can overcome the animal when it is placed in an unfamiliar situation. Never approach an unfamiliar dog and teach children to do the same.
Even a friendly dog can accidentally bite due to pain. Caution should be taken around older dogs who may be experiencing more pain as they age.
4. Maternal Instincts
A female dog that has had puppies will be protective and bite if she feels they are threatened. It is important to be aware of these maternal instincts and be respectful of them.
5. Prey Driven Instincts
All dogs have within them the instinct to run after prey. This can be triggered when they encounter joggers, cyclists, or children at play.
What Should be Done After A Dog Bite?
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, there are important steps to take to protect yourself and your legal rights:
- Obtain Medical Attention.
- Identify who the owner of the dog is.
- Report the dog bite to the local animal control (City of Sacramento Animal Care Services).
- Take pictures of your injuries.
Please note: an essential factor in proving a dog attack case is to swiftly gather any evidence and seek out an experienced dog bite injury attorney as soon as possible. Our Sacramento personal injury attorneys have decades of experience in thoroughly investigating the details of cases like these.
What Types of Injuries Can a Victim Suffer?
- Facial Contusions
- Eye injuries
- Head abrasions
- Head contusions
- Broken Bones
- Crushed Bones
- Contusions to limbs or body
- Brain Injury
- PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Emotional Injury: How Does a Dog Bite Victim Suffer PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
A victim of a dog bite injury can suffer post traumatic stress for months or years after the attack. Reports indicate that children are particularly susceptible to post traumatic stress disorder. Many children, depending on their age, find it difficult to articulate how they feel so it is important that guardians stay vigilant to any changes that may occur in a child after suffering such a traumatic experience. Signs and symptoms of PTSD include:
- Excessive anxiety
- Decreased school performance
- Sleep disturbances
- Reduced creativity
- Behavior problems/changes
Treatment from a professional psychologist can assist the victim by providing therapy or solutions for overcoming this type of emotional injury.
Understanding California Laws that Apply to Dog Bite Liability
In Sacramento, unless in designated zones, owners are required to always have their dogs leashed. Such laws are part of the county codes and can vary depending on which county you live in.
California has created specific laws to help determine liability in dog bite injuries regardless of where one lives within the state. Such laws are warranted when one considers that the average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay is $18,200; this is approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay. Therefore, when someone is seriously injured by a dog, it is only just that the victim has a means to seek compensation for their injuries.
Owner of Dog Liability
California Civil Code Section 3342(a) states the following: 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, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
Although there are some exceptions to this law, such as if someone provoked the dog or trespassed on the owners land, in the majority of the cases, if a dog bites a person, the owner is responsible for all damages.
Responsibility for a dog bite can include a landlord. For example, if the landlord, or any representatives of the landlord, possess knowledge of a vicious dog living on the property owned and had the opportunity to have the dog removed prior to an attack that injured a victim. This type of liability can only be proved when factual evidence is obtained which requires a thorough investigation.
Liability is not always clear-cut when it comes to a dog bite injury. There are additional factors that come into play and need to be considered. For example, what if a child was bitten at a daycare or perhaps injured at school by a dog that was brought onto the grounds by another child? What if serious injury was caused by a dog being overly playful or excited? How is liability determined if someone was severely injured by a dog in an animal shelter? How should someone react if an injury occurred in a family member’s home by a dog well known? With such a variety of circumstances that can surround this type of injury, if you have been injured from a dog bite it is best to call an experienced attorney that has the knowledge and skill to help you determine if you have a case.
How Can Damages Be Recovered?
The first thing a knowledgeable personal injury attorney needs to do is to find out if there is insurance that can be used to compensate the injured victim. Victims need to be aware that if the dog owner, or person(s) responsible for your injuries, has no insurance there is little hope of obtaining compensation for your damages. However, depending on the circumstances, an attorney would find out if homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance can be applied to your case. If there is a commercial entity, an apartment, or perhaps a landlord then an investigation can be made to see if they have coverage that can be applied.
Choosing a Sacramento Dog Bite Attorney
If you need help with your dog bite injury case in Sacramento or surrounding counties, contact John M. O'Brien & Associates today. The sooner you call, the easier it is for us to work together to identify and preserve the evidence in your favor. We prepare every case as if it's going to go to trial, which leads to both better and quicker settlements and better verdicts if a settlement isn't possible.
Our firm is large enough to stand up to the tactics of the defendants and small enough to treat you and your family with the respect and concern you deserve. Simply put: we get results.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT THEIR CASES
After being inefficiently represented, we were relieved to find a professional, versed, and friendly attorney. John O'Brien made sure that in our settlement we obtained the money deserved.
Exercising my legal rights to sue, I didn't know what to expect. I am grateful to Mr. O'Brien for always being available and making it an easy process. I will definitely choose him again.
Mr. O'Brien treated my case better than I imagined it was possible. Owing to his diligence and professionalism we settled rapidly. Also, the compensation received was more than I expected. Thank you!
No other lawyer returned my calls before. Mr. O'Brien was always available, that is why I felt he cares about me and my case. Also, it was obvious that he has plenty of experience.
Just a note to say "thank you," you made us (finally) feel like we were important! Thanks again for all of your time and efforts. Please tell Kathy and Brenda the same!
Joan & Bob
You and your staff made this process go very smoothly. Also you went above and beyond and exceeded all expectations. I will definitely contact you for any future mishaps.
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