Personal Injury Claims for Dog Bites & Animal Attacks
California applies “strict liability” for injuries caused by dog bites or attacks. This means that a dog owner is strictly liable for the injuries caused by their dog. California law does not allow for a dog owner to dispute who was at fault. The dog owner is automatically responsible to pay for your injuries. Although we only take serious dog bite cases, we welcome you to contact us for a consultation. If we do not take your case, we can help you to determine the best path to obtain legal help if needed.
Some of the most common physical injuries caused by dog bites are:
- Puncture Wounds
- Skin Tears
- Nerve Damage
- Bone Fractures
If you, your child, or another loved one of yours has been injured by a dog owned by another person, your family may be eligible for compensation to cover medical bills and possibly more. With our understanding of California law pertaining to animal attacks, our Santa Barbara injury lawyers can take the necessary steps to protect your right to maximum compensation. Andrade Law Offices can help you obtain the insurance settlement you deserve after a dog attack.
Dog Bites by the Numbers
Many dog bites are serious. According to the American Veterinary Association (AVA) approximately:
- 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year
- 900,000 of these dog bite victims require medical attention for their injuries
- 27,000 dog bite victims sustain serious enough injuries to require reconstructive surgery.
- Half of the victims of dog bites are children.
California is one of the most likely places in the U.S. to be attacked by a dog. The Insurance Information Institute says California had the most dog bite claims of any U.S. state in 2013, with 1,919 claims worth a total of $64.7 million. DogsBite.org, a nonprofit public education website about dangerous dogs, says California was home to the most fatal dog attacks of any state, with five deaths in 2013, all attributed to pit bulls.
Dog Bite Cases in California
A 32-year survey of dog attack injuries and deaths in the U.S. and Canada found that certain breeds, including pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, Shar-Peis, Boxers, and their mixes were responsible for:
- 81% of attacks on children
- 89% of attacks on adults
- 86% of attacks causing bodily harm
- 86% of attacks resulting in maiming
- 76% of attacks resulting in fatalities
A 2014 report by the California Department of Public Health said that among towns and cities in California that track dog bites, the breeds most commonly involved in dog bite incidents were:
- Pitbull terriers (29%)
- German shepherds or shepherd mixes (15%)
- Chihuahuas (11%)
In California, the incidence of animal bites is higher among children aged 1 to 6 years old based on emergency room visits, according to the report. Dogs may misinterpret the sudden movements or the shrill squealing of children and respond aggressively or defensively. For their safety, parents and adults should always caution young children about approaching a strange dog too quickly, running, jumping, shrilling, screaming, or flailing objects. Young boys under the age of 12 are the most common dog, bite victims.
Other groups vulnerable to dog attacks are elderly people 70 years old or older, who, like young children, are less able to escape or fend off an attacking dog. Outdoor service workers, postal workers, and other delivery people, utility workers, landscapers, and public services personnel are also vulnerable.
Liability in a Santa Barbara Dog Bite Claim
The Santa Barbara County Health Department classifies any dog that has bitten, caused serious injury, or attempted to attack a person without provocation as a dangerous dog.
In California, state law makes a dog owner strictly responsible for any harm inflicted by their dog, labeled “dangerous” or not. This means any person who has been injured by a dog, or the parents/guardians representing a minor, may seek compensation for the injury without being required to prove negligence on the dog owner's part, as long as the victim was not:
- Provoking the dog;
- Injured by their employer's dog while on the job; or
- Performing a paid service involving the dog (i.e., grooming, training, etc.).
Note that young children, depending on their age and maturity, may not be held responsible for trespassing or “provoking” a dog, and a worker injured by their employer's dog while on the job would be eligible for workers' compensation in most cases.
In some cases, a local ordinance, which might employ a higher duty of care to a dog owner, may apply to a dog bite or dog attack claim.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Have you or a family member required medical care after a dog bite or attack? If so, the Andrade Law Office can review the incident to help you obtain compensation from the dog's owner through an insurance settlement. California law is on the side of dog bite victims, and our experienced Santa Barbara personal injury attorneys fight to ensure that our client's rights are protected and fully exercised. If bitten at home, the homeowner may have medical pay on their insurance policy to immediately begin covering needed medical expenses, including therapy. However, that medical payment will be required to be paid back to the insurance company out of any settlement obtained for damages. This is called subrogation.
The amount of financial compensation is dependent on the extent of your injuries, including medical bills, loss of income during recovery, and pain and suffering. If you are married, your spouse may also have a claim of loss of consortium. The first step toward compensation is calling our Santa Barbara law offices. Your initial consultation is always free, and you pay nothing unless we secure a settlement or win a jury award for your dog bite claim.
Call our firm at (805) 962.4944 to get started.