Getting bitten by a dog is a frightening experience that can cause long-term physical and emotional trauma. If you or your child was attacked, you might have grounds for a claim against the dog’s owner or another party. Our Temecula dog bite lawyers can review your case for free and help you determine the most strategic way to proceed.
There are nuances to these claims that don’t apply to other personal injury cases, so it’s important that you hire an attorney with the knowledge and resources to provide effective representation. At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, we have many years of experience helping dog bite victims fight for the compensation they deserve.
To discuss your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation, contact us today at 1-800-GO-HARRIS. Our phone line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Damages in California Dog Bite Cases
The psychological and emotional impacts of a serious injury can be just as devastating as the financial cost. It’s not uncommon for dog bite victims to suffer permanent scarring, and many are forced to cope with tremendous emotional distress and loss of enjoyment in life.
Fortunately, California law allows personal injury claimants to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, which together are called “compensatory damages.” In some cases, it’s also possible to win an award of punitive damages.
The following compensatory damages might be available in a California dog bite claim:
- Medical bills;
- Lost income;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Property damage;
- Home care and other reasonable and necessary costs related to your injury;
- Emotional distress;
- Lost enjoyment in life; and
- Pain and suffering.
As previously mentioned, dog bite victims are sometimes awarded punitive damages. Although most cases do not warrant a punitive award, your Temecula dog bite attorney might advise you to seek punitive damages if the dog had a history of vicious behavior yet the owner failed to take reasonable steps to protect others from injury. For example, if you were a patron at a bar or a customer at a grocery store and you were bitten by a dog that had previously bitten someone else, it may be possible to recover punitive damages. These damages might also be available if the owner ordered the dog to attack you.
Strict Liability Applies to Dog Bite Cases in California
In most personal injury cases, the claimant must prove negligence in order to recover an award of damages. But if you were attacked by a dog, a finding of fault isn’t necessary to win a settlement or verdict. In other words, dog owners can be held liable for any injuries their animals cause even if the owners weren’t negligent. And unlike other states that have the “one-bite” rule, a dog owner in California can be held liable for the victim’s damages even if the dog had not attacked anyone in the past.
Important Elements to Prove in a Dog Bite Case
To win a settlement or verdict, your Temecula dog bite lawyer must be able to prove the following:
- When the attack occurred, the defendant owned the dog;
- When the attack occurred, the victim was lawfully on private property or was on public property; and
- The bite caused an injury.
The above elements will establish liability and causation. Important evidence may include:
- The police and/or incident report;
- Eyewitness testimony;
- Video footage of the attack;
- Photos of injuries;
- Records that show the defendant owned the dog at the time of the attack; and
- If you were on private property, your attorney may need to present evidence to demonstrate that you were lawfully on the property.
You’ll also have to prove the types of damages you’ve incurred and their value. We’ve already discussed the kinds of damages that might be available in a dog bite case.
The evidence your attorney will use to prove damages depends on the circumstances but may include:
- Diagnostic imaging and other medical records;
- Receipts and invoices for healthcare costs and other expenses related to the injury;
- Financial documentation to prove lost income;
- Photos of scarring and disfigurement;
- Your personal injury journal; and
- Expert witness testimony.
Who Might Be Liable for a Dog Bite?
In most cases, the owner of the dog is liable for the victim’s damages. But under some circumstances, the following parties might also be held financially responsible:
- The landlord of the property where you were bitten;
- The owner of the property where you were bitten; or
- The dog’s caretaker.
Speak with Our Temecula Dog Bite Attorneys Today
At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, we know how traumatic a serious dog bite can be. Our attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you need to cover medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the attack. Call 1-800-GO-HARRIS or send us a message to arrange a free initial consultation.
Price range: Free Consultations & No Fees
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