San Francisco Dog Bite Attorneys
Many dog breeds are capable of causing serious injuries and permanent scarring when they attack. Some of the worst of these attacks occur without any provocation whatsoever. Our dog bite attorneys in San Francisco know how traumatic such an experience can be, and we are ready to help you bring a claim against the dog owner and/or any other parties who might be liable for damages.
In the state of California, dog bite victims may have the right to seek compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages in addition to medical bills and lost wages. The insurance company, however, is unlikely to offer a fair settlement without putting up a fight. Our skilled trial lawyers can level the playing field and use their vast resources to pursue the compensation that you and your loved ones deserve. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 1-800-GO-HARRIS.
What If the Defendant Argues That I Provoked the Attack?
Depending on the circumstances, a dog owner might not be liable for damages if it can be shown that the victim provoked the attack; however, just because the defendant uses this defense doesn’t mean it has merit. If the attack was not provoked, your San Francisco dog bite lawyer might be able to prove as much by searching for surveillance footage of the incident, or by bringing in eyewitnesses for deposition.
Because strict liability usually applies to dog bite cases, a dog owner can be held liable for the damages resulting from a dog bite even if there is no finding of negligence. If the dog owner doesn’t have evidence that the attack was provoked, it is unlikely that such a defense would work.
Even if the attack was in fact provoked, the victim may still be entitled to damages; however, his or her financial award may be reduced by his or her own percentage of fault, pursuant to California’s pure comparative negligence law. For instance, if a jury finds that the victim was 20 percent at fault for the bite and the total damages incurred are $100,000, the verdict may be reduced to $80,000.
It is important to note that due to California’s strict liability laws, using the provocation defense effectively can be challenging. For such a defense to work, it must be established that the victim’s behavior did, in fact, constitute “provocation.” Depending on the facts surrounding the attack, your dog bite attorney might bring in an animal behavioral specialist to provide deposition regarding whether your behavior provoked the bite. Such deposition might be sufficient to overcome the provocation defense.
What If the Defendant Ordered the Dog to Attack Me?
While it is rare for people to order their dog to attack someone, it does happen. Depending on the circumstances, this may constitute malice. If it is found that the defendant acted with malice, you may be able to obtain punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages (economic and non-economic damages).
Punitive damages might also be awarded if the dog owner was aware that the animal had displayed vicious tendencies in the past—for example, by attacking another person—but failed to take reasonable steps to protect other people from being bitten. For instance, if you were lawfully on a commercial property and you were bitten by the property owner’s dog, and your San Francisco dog bite attorney uncovers evidence that the dog had seriously injured someone else in the past, this might constitute malice and warrant an award of punitive damages.
How Soon Should I Hire a Dog Bite Attorney?
If you intend to bring a dog bite claim, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, we offer free case evaluations and accept personal injury claims on contingency fee contracts. That means you won’t have to pay anything upfront to hire us for representation. You have nothing to lose by speaking to one of our lawyers.
The best time to call our office is after your first doctor’s visit, which should take place immediately after the bite, or at least within 24 hours of the bite. A member of our team not only can answer your questions and determine if your case has merit but can also explain what you can do to give your case the best possible chance of resulting in a fair settlement or verdict. You will also learn how to avoid the most common mistakes that dog bite claimants make that lead to disputes, delays, and unnecessary complications. Our attorneys will take over the logistics of your claim so you can focus on recovering.