Dog Bite Injuries in California
Dog Bites Overview
Dog bite attacks are a far more serious and widespread problem than most people realize. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 4.7 million people a year are injured by dog bites. Approximately 800,000 people a year seek medical care for dog bite injuries, and children are the most frequent victims.
Dog Bite Law
Dog bite laws vary from state to state. In some states, dog bite liability is still based primarily on common law theory, under which a dog owner is only liable if he had prior knowledge of his dog’s dangerous propensities. Most states, however, including California, have enacted dog bite statutes under which a dog owner can be found strictly liable for injuries caused by his dog.
Other Theories of Dog Bite Liability
California’s Dog Bite Statute may not apply to your dog bite case. The statute may not be available because the person responsible for your dog bite injuries is not the dog’s owner. Or, possibly, the dog’s owner may have a valid defense under the Dog Bite Statute. In both of these instances, your dog bite lawyer may be able to seek compensation on your behalf under one or more other theories of liability. These other liability theories are also useful when the victim’s injuries are not the result of an actual dog bite, as required under the Dog Bite Statute.
Liability in Dog Bite Cases – Persons Other than the Dog Owner
In order to increase your chances for full compensation, your dog bite lawyer will seek to identify all persons or entities which may be financially liable for your dog bite injury. Persons other than the dog owner may be liable either because the dog was under their control at the time of the injury or because the dog was on their premises at the time of the injury. A person or entity, in its role as transferor, may also be subject to dog bite liability as a result of a misrepresentation or failure to disclose information to a new owner.
Defenses in Dog Bite Cases
A dog owner may seek to avoid liability in a dog bite case by raising one or more defenses. In such circumstances, representation by a skilled dog bite lawyer able to identify a defendant’s potential defenses and to plan accordingly is essential.
Damages in Dog Bite Cases
Dog bite injuries can have a devastating physical and emotional effect on the victim and can take a huge financial toll on the victim’s entire family.
While the types and amount of damages to which you may be entitled will depend on both the theory upon which liability is established and the particular facts of your case, the types of compensation generally available in a dog bite liability case include both (a) economic losses and (b) non-economic losses. Economic losses are objective, measurable losses, while non-economic losses refer to intangible losses. Under certain circumstances, a victim’s family members may also be entitled to recover damages. If you have been the victim of a dog bite attack, you should consult a dog bite lawyer (or attorney) who will be able to advise you regarding the damages that may potentially be available to you.
Dog Bite Prevention
There are currently nearly 75 million dogs in the United States. Each year, approximately 4.7 million people in the United States are the victims of dog bites. Over half of all dog bite victims are children. And of even greater concern, children are more than three times as likely as adults to suffer a serious injury. Eighty percent of dog bite fatalities are children.
While even the most gentle dog may bite if provoked, most dog bites are preventable. Both the Center for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association believe public education is the best way to prevent dog bite injuries.