If you are a victim of a dog attack, take actions to protect yourself. Put a bag or jacket between you and the dog or curl into a ball while protecting your ears and neck to avoid further serious injury. Give any wounds immediate medical attention, either by self-care for minor wounds or professional medical care for deep wounds. Major loss of blood, extreme pain, loss of function, and infection are all reasons to seek medical care.
Next, report the dog bite to either the local police department or animal control office. California dog owners are strictly responsible for dog bites that occur due to their negligence or on their property. You will need to prove the injuries were strictly from the dog bite. You will also need to prove you were in public or lawfully on the dog owner’s property for your claim to be valid.
The law automatically considers public officials acting on their duties, such as postmen, as lawfully being on someone else’s property. If you are visiting someone else’s property, keep evidence of your planned visit. A text message or email is valid evidence in proving you were on the property legally. This is important, as some dog owners may claim you were unlawfully on their property to avoid liability.
California law allows for up to two years from the time of the incident for you to file a dog bite injury claim. If you are ever uncertain if your situation qualifies for compensation, talk to an experienced San Jose dog bite attorney about your dog-related injuries. In San Jose, call Henshaw & Henry, PC at (408) 533-1075 or go online.
Dog bite injuries can result in both physical harm and mental trauma, and recovery can be difficult. As you consider your potential for a claim, know that you can receive compensation for cases of:
To allow you to focus on your recovery, a San Jose dog bite lawyer can help you determine which damages you have suffered to help you build your claim. Your attorney can also fight to ensure you receive rightful compensation to cover any costs associated with your recovery.
Each state abides by its own dog bite laws and statutes. When a dog causes bodily injury or property damage, California Civil Code Section 3342 states if and when the dog’s owner is liable. The law states that the dog’s owner will be liable if the dog bite caused the damages and if the bite happened while the victim was in a public place or lawfully in a private place. Dogs carrying out military or police work are exempt from this law. California’s dog bite law does not apply to cases involving behaviors other than biting on the part of the dog, such as jumping or scratching. However, negligence laws may apply in these cases.
California is a strict liability dog bite state. This means that the law will hold the dog’s owner liable for damages relating to a dog bite regardless of whether or not the owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog was dangerous. Other states obey a “one bite rule,” meaning the owner will only be liable if the dog has bitten someone in the past. No such rule exists in California. If the dog bites someone, the owner will be strictly liable for injuries, unless an exception applies.
Dog bite victims do not have the burden of proof to show that the dog’s owner was negligent in any way to qualify for compensation. The victim must only show that the dog bite occurred, and that he or she was in a public place or lawfully in a private place at the time of the attack. It does not matter whether or not the owner was negligent in holding or controlling the dog. Keep in mind that if your injuries resulted from behavior other than a bite, you will have to prove negligence to be eligible for damage recovery.
It may be easier to prove your case against a dog’s owner if the State of California has declared the dog in question “dangerous.” Although San Jose does not have any breed-specific laws, state laws do make it an owner’s responsibility to take “reasonable steps to remove any danger of future attacks” when the dog bites someone. There is a separate legal process for controlling “dangerous dogs.” A dangerous dog is one that law enforcement or animal control believes is potentially vicious. If the court rules in agreement, the owner may have to keep the dog indoors or properly secured.
Dogs the courts might deem “dangerous” are those that have exhibited aggressive behavior that forced people to defend themselves on two or more occasions in the past three years; dogs that have bitten someone without provocation; and dogs that have killed or injured domestic animals at least twice in the last three years. You do not have to prove that a dog was dangerous or that the owner was negligent to receive compensation.
In the U.S., 4.7 million dog bites occur each year. Almost 800,000 of these bites require medical care, and insurance companies pay over $1 billion for dog bite claims yearly. After a dog bite injury in the Bay Area, talk to one of our San Jose injury attorneys.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, owning a dog increases the chances of suffering a dog bite. Adults without dogs in the home have a much lower risk of dog bites; those with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to experience a dog bite.
Children are at a disproportionately higher risk for dog bites than adults. 82% of dog bites treated in an emergency department being on children under fifteen years old. Due to their smaller stature, children are more likely to receive dog bites to the face.
Local health departments and animal control agencies received reports of over 50,000 animal bites in California during 2011. Between 2006 and 2010, domesticated dogs accounted for 77% of reported animal bites. The number of emergency department visits for dog bites increased from almost 35,000 in 2010 to over 38,000 in 2015.
The number of fatal dog injuries per year has increased from 17 on average between 1980 and 1990 to 35 per year between 2006 and 2015.