Contact a Lawyer for Dog Bite Attacks
Dogs can snap or bite to express boundaries, show dominance, and protect themselves, their puppies, or their food. While many domesticated and trained dogs know not to show aggression to humans, 4.5 million dogs still bite people in the United States each year. Shockingly, 1 out of 5 dog bites requires professional medical attention.
Dogs have sharp teeth, and they often shake their heads and tear once they get a good grip, often resulting in serious flesh wounds. It’s difficult to deescalate a dog attack when you’re scared; your first thought may be to run or scream, but these two actions can actually activate the animal’s predatory instincts, as they may mistake you for a prey animal. The best way to avoid a dog biting you once it starts to show signs of aggression is to avoid eye contact and to get away from the dog slowly.
Riding a bike past a dog can cause it to chase you, and you shouldn’t slow down if you find yourself in this situation. If you are on the owner’s property, then your injury attorney may have a premises liability lawsuit on their hands. If you were working, for example, as a delivery driver, when the dog bit you, the case is complicated even further.
Hopefully it’s just one dog biting you, as they have a pack mentality, and other dogs can join in if they see their alpha attacking you. Regardless, you need to apply pressure to the wound immediately while you or someone else calls 911.
When you get to the hospital, a medical assessment will give you a first look at the severity of your injuries. They will be able to administer life-saving or life-changing aid to your wounds. In addition to emergency room bills, you may need follow-up visits with a specialist in order to fully treat you for your injuries.
Contacting the Owner
You should reach out to the owner of the animal once you feel stronger after some rest and recovery. Most dog bite-related disputes never go to court since they are settled through negotiations with the owner and their insurance company or injury attorney in Sherman Oaks. California dog bite lawsuits can be time consuming and expensive, so many defendants in these cases are eager to settle them outside of court.
Contacting the owner is important, as they can let you know if the animal was properly vaccinated. It’s also necessary for your case. When you reach out to them, give them an itemized list of your expenses so they know how you are suffering. You should also let them know about any dog-bite laws in your area.
A deadline for paying your expenses is always helpful, and you can give this in a friendly, ballpark range before being more stern the second time reaching out, if they don’t pay after the first time you ask. If they are still being stubborn about compensating you, you should bring up the idea of small claims court or regular judicial court if your expenses are heavy enough.
Taking Legal Action
You can sue for up to $10,000 in small claims court. If your losses add up to less than that amount, then you can stick to small claims court, where you generally represent yourself instead of hiring a personal injury lawyer in Sherman Oaks.
If your losses add up to more than $10,000, then you need to hire a bodily injury lawyer in Sherman Oaks to help your case. When you first call the office of Okhovat Law, we will ask you a few preliminary questions before scheduling your initial consultation. Our consultations are free, and we will go over the California laws surrounding dog bites, as well as any other personal injury or premises liability matters that may be relevant to your case.
Making a Claim
Each civil case in California has a statute of limitations, meaning that your lawsuit becomes moot and you are ineligible for compensation after a certain period of time has passed. In California, you have 2 years to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. This means that dog bite victims have 2 years from the time of the injury to file their claim for compensation.
California law holds dog owners accountable for any damage their pets may cause. It states “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place … regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
In order to make a strong dog bite injury case, you and your dog attack lawyer in Sherman Oaks must prove to the courts that:
- The defendant in your lawsuit owned the dog
- The dog bit you
- You were in a public place when it bit you
- You suffered economic and/or non-economic damages as a result of the attack
Preparing for Court
The attorneys of Okhovat Law will work around the clock to build your case. This includes gathering evidence. Any lawyer for dog bite attacks will ask for photo evidence to aid in the testimony to the severity of your injuries. Photo evidence of the wound immediately after the attack and photos showing the healing process are best.
You should also gather all your emergency room, doctor, and pharmacy bills.
If there were any witnesses to the attack, ask them to testify. If they have a relationship with the dog owner, ask them to write a note confirming that you did not provoke the animal to bite you to use in place of their court appearance. This is usually only admissible in small claims court.
You can also get coworkers, friends, and family to testify to your suffering if they saw you in the days following your accident. Any accounts of you showing pain and discomfort will be a testament to your pain and suffering damages.
Your Sherman Oaks personal injury lawyer will make sure that you have a strong claim before taking the case to court. California follows the doctrine of strict liability, meaning dog owners are liable for all attacks committed by their pets, even if they had no idea they were aggressive. It doesn’t matter if you are the fourth person to have been bitten by the animal or the first; the owner is responsible for all damages resulting from the bite.
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