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Who Is Responsible for My Injury Caused by a Dog Bite? A Legal Guide

Americans love their dogs, but sometimes dogs can be unpredictable and dangerous. Whether it’s due to bad training, a nervous reaction or feeling threatened, dog bites do occur. In fact, an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the US each year.

After suffering from a dog bite injury, the first thing someone should do is seek medical attention. If they want to file an insurance claim, the second thing they’ll need to do is hire the best dog bite injury attorney available.

However, dog bite victims may have some questions about dog bite laws that will inform their next steps.

Read on to find out who is responsible for a dog bite injury, common dog bite injuries, and more.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bites can cause serious injuries and dogs of all sizes and breeds are capable of inflicting these serious injuries. What are some of the most serious injuries that victims often sustain after getting bitten by a dog? Common dog bite injuries include:

Some of these injuries have long-term impacts. Spinal injuries, for example, can lead to permanent disabilities and require lifelong physical therapy. For many dog bite victims, the medical bills that accompany their injury are more than they can afford.

Physical injuries aren’t the only concern when a dog bites a human. Emotional damages often occur in the form of increased anxiety, fear, and even PTSD.

Can a Person Get Rabies From a Dog Bite?

Surface injuries are frightening enough when a dog attacks. The question of whether or not that dog has rabies is even more concerning. The question is, how likely is it that a dog has rabies–and can humans contract rabies from them?

In the United States, most dogs that have lawful owners are vaccinated against rabies. According to the CDC, only 63 dogs were reported to have rabies in the US in 2018. In other words, it’s unlikely to encounter a dog with rabies.

However, it is not unreasonable to ask the dog’s owner for proof of a negative rabies test or vaccination against rabies. Unfortunately, humans can contract rabies from the bite of a dog.

If a person was or may have been bitten by a dog with rabies, it is important to seek medical attention right away. A medical professional can advise them on the next best steps.

Who Is Liable For a Dog Bite?

The state of California exercises “strict liability” laws when it comes to dog bites. What that means is that in almost every scenario, the owner of a dog that has bitten another person is going to be held responsible. However, there are a number of important considerations to make when determining liability in a dog bite claim.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions top dog bite injury attorneys answer on a regular basis.

What If a Person Was Petting the Dog When It Bit Them?

What if someone was petting a dog when it bit them? Does that mean that they provoked the dog in some way? The answer is no.

The owner is still liable for a dog bite, even if someone was petting their dog when it bit them.

What If the Dog Has Never Bitten Anyone Before?

In some states, an owner can fight a dog bite claim by stating that their dog never bit anyone before and therefore, they didn’t know to expect it. This is not the case in California.

The owner is liable for that first bite. The only real difference that a first (versus second or third) bite will make applies to what happens to the dog in question.

What If the Injured Party Was Trespassing?

Strict liability is not without limits. A dog bite victim can file a claim if a dog bit them in a public space. They can also file a claim if they were private property with permission.

If a person was trespassing on the dog owner’s private property when they were bitten, the owner will most likely not be held liable.

(Note that mail carriers and other similar professionals enter private property with permission when they are on the job.)

What If the Dog Caused Harm But Did Not Bite?

What if a dog knocked someone over and caused a head injury? What if a dog caused harm but did not bite the victim?

Dog bite law applies only when a dog bites a victim. If an injury was sustained from other forms of behavior, the victim will want to file a personal injury claim. This will require the assistance of a top injury attorney.

What If the Dog Did Bite But Serious Injuries Were Not Sustained?

Can a dog bite victim file a claim if the dog bite didn’t cause serious injuries? It isn’t advisable.

Dog bite claims can take months to settle. If the victim doesn’t have substantial or damages to recover, the claim may not be worth the effort. It is possible that such a claim wouldn’t make it very far before getting dismissed by a judge.

What If the Dog Was a Police or Military Dog?

Some people wonder if strict liability laws apply if the dog in question was an active police or military dog. The answer is that it depends on the situation.

An injured party cannot file a claim if the dog was doing law enforcement work when it bit them. This may also apply if the dog was defending someone from the injured party.

However, if the injured party was not a suspect in the police or military case, strict liability does apply. In other words, innocent bystanders or victims of a crime may file a claim if they were bitten by a police or military dog.

What Damages Can a Dog Bite Victim Recover?

The top dog bite lawyers can help victims recover the damages they are owed. What kinds of damages can someone file for in a dog bite claim?

Medical Bills

First and foremost, dog bite victims will want to recover the money spent on medical bills. This includes all medical bills related to the dog bite, including past, present, and future. For that reason, it is advisable for victims to wait until medical professionals can provide an assessment of future medical care needs.

Medical bills also include any bills related to mental health. For example, if a dog bite victim needed cognitive therapy to cope with related trauma, those bills would be included in the dog bite claim.

In order to establish related medical expenses, the victim’s attorney will need certain paperwork from their client. This includes related medical records, and all related medical bills, as well as projections of future medical care.

Lost Income

Lost income is another important component of dog bite claims. Some victims may sustain injuries that impact their ability to work. Any income they would receive if they hadn’t been bitten by a dog can come into play.

What are some examples of lost income?

Someone may have to take time off from work while they recover from their injuries. They may also have their responsibilities reduced due to a new disability. Both of these things may result in lost income and will come up in a dog bite claim.

In order to establish related lost income, the victim’s attorney will need additional paperwork. This includes current and previous paystubs. It also includes any written documentation of a change in status, a change in work duties, or missed workdays.

Additional Damages

Some damages are harder to quantify, which is why victims of dog bites will want to hire the best dog bite injury attorney near them. Suffering, pain, and disfigurement can come into play in a dog bite claim, as any of these factors can impact a person’s overall quality of life. However, these factors must be significant in order to lead to additional compensation.

Work With the Best Dog Bite Injury Attorney in California and Las Vegas

Are you looking for the best dog bite injury attorney in Las Vegas, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Irvine, or the surrounding areas? Heidari Law Group is here to help you win your case and receive the compensation you deserve.

We want to hear the details of your case. Contact us today to get a free consultation. We’ll let you know what we think your odds are of winning your claim before you make any final decisions and we won’t charge any fees until you win.

Sam Heidari

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Sam Heidari

Sam Ryan Heidari

Sam Heidari is the founding principal of Heidari Law Group, a law firm specializing in personal injury, wrongful death, and employment law with offices in California and Nevada. Sam Heidari has been practicing law for over 11 years and handles a wide range of cases including car accidents, wrongful death, employment discrimination, and product liability. The Heidari Law Group legal firm is known for its comprehensive approach, handling cases from initial consultation through to final judgment. Sam Heidari is dedicated to community involvement and advocacy for civil liberties.

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