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Dog Bites

For the past several years California has had a significantly higher number of dog bite deaths than other parts of the country. Most of the individuals killed by a dog are young children. But some dog bites and dog attacks do not end in death: instead, the victim is left with serious injuries and a long road to recovery.

A dog bite lawsuit can be filed when the dog belonging to another has caused you or a loved one injury or death. Like other personal injury lawsuits, you have two years from the date of the dog attack to file your lawsuit for damages.

National Dog Bite Statistics collects statistics regarding dog bite incidents throughout the United States. According to the site’s research, in 2012:

  • There were 38 U.S. dog bite fatalities, 61 percent of which were caused by pit bulls;
  • Pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 68 percent of all dog bite fatalities in 2012 and for 73 percent of all dog bite fatalities between 2005 and 2012; and
  • Males are more likely to be bit than females, and the majority of male victims are children under the age of 8 years of age.

While most individuals picture a “dog bite” attack involving a strange or unfamiliar dog, the truth is that any dog is capable of biting and attacking you or a loved one. The fact that you may know the dog and see the dog frequently is no guarantee that the dog won’t bite you. The majority of bites occur the extremities and face, which can result in loss of limbs and/or disfiguring injuries. Other dog bite injuries can include:

  • Deep cuts and lacerations or “puncture”-type wounds;
  • Crushing injuries;
  • Scarring and/or disfigurement; and/or
  • Transmission of infectious diseases like rabies.

Securing compensation through a dog bite lawsuit can help alleviate the financial burden that these injuries can impose on a victim and his or her family.

California’s Dog Bite Law

Those who own dogs in California are legally responsible for the injuries that their dogs cause to other individuals. California’s dog bite statute imposes strict liability on dog owners for the actions of their animals. This means that someone who is injured by a dog belonging to another does not need to prove that the owner of the dog acted carelessly or had a reason to know his or her dog might attack a human: the fact that the victim was injured by the dog of another is enough to establish the dog owner’s liability.

Note that there are some exceptions to the “strict liability” nature of the dog bite statute. If the dog owner shows that the victim was trespassing on private property when he or she was bit, or if the owner shows that the victim was taunting, teasing, or otherwise provoking the dog just before the attack, the victim may be denied compensation.

Problems With Dog Bite Cases

Victims of dog bites should seek out legal counsel as dog bite cases can present some unique challenges. For example, if the dog has no owner or the owner is not able to be identified, you may not be able to recover any compensation. Additionally, if the owner is located and he or she claims you were trespassing or taunting the dog, additional investigation may need to be completed in order to locate witnesses and evidence to disprove these allegations. Finally, it is important to request an appropriate amount of compensation to cover not only your past expenses but also any future expenses you may incur.

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