Dog bites can have devastating physical and emotional consequences, leaving people with lasting injuries and long-term consequences. Our experienced dog bite attorneys at Steinberg Injury Lawyers understand the urgent need for reliable legal representation for dog bite victims. Since 1982, our firm has been at the forefront of providing compassionate and thoughtful support to dog bite injury victims in California.

Our skilled team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to navigating the complexities of dog bite cases, working tirelessly to secure the financial compensation necessary for recovery. We acknowledge the unique challenges faced by victims and prioritize their well-being. With five conveniently located law offices throughout the Los Angeles area, we ensure accessibility and can even arrange meetings at your home or hospital, recognizing the potential difficulties our clients may encounter.

At Steinberg Injury Lawyers, we are committed to delivering quality, attentive service, ensuring that all your questions are promptly answered and that you are kept informed of any case developments. Operating on a contingency basis reflects our confidence in our ability to bring justice to our clients—our fees are only collected upon the successful resolution of your case. During these challenging times, Steinberg Injury Lawyers stands ready to provide you with the advocate you need.

Dog Bite Liability Laws in California

California requires its citizens to pay for damages caused by their unruly or dangerous canines. In fact, California Civil Code section 3342, the state's strict liability statute for dog bites, allows dog owners to be held legally liable when their dog bites someone—whether the dog bite occurs in a public place, like on a city sidewalk or in a public park, or in a private residence where the victim was lawfully allowed at the time of the attack. Additionally, the law does not require dog owners to have had prior knowledge that the dog was aggressive or dangerous, so the owner can be held liable even if it was the first time the dog bit someone. California's strict liability statute for canine bites is so straightforward that victims only need to prove that they were bitten and attacked by the dog belonging to the owner named in the personal injury lawsuit.

As simple and straightforward as the statute is, there are still some notable exceptions that victims of dog bites should know before attempting to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit in Low Angles to pursue compensation for their injuries.

Notable Exceptions To The Dog Bite Statute

  • The strict liability for dog bites statute does not protect trespassers. The statute only applies to victims who were lawfully present at the time of the attack, so if you were trespassing on private property, such as a private residence, the dog's owner may have a solid defense against liability.
  • The statute may not protect victims who willfully ignored a clearly posted “Beware of Dog” sign. Victims who ignore posted warnings may be determined to have assumed risk or contributed to the negligence that caused the injuries.
  • California's strict liability law does not protect victims who provoked the attacking canine. Victims who provoked a dog, creating a dangerous situation, are assumed to be responsible for their own injuries.
  • Strict liability only applies to dog attacks that include bites. The statute does not cover other injuries caused by dogs. For example, if a large dog jumped on a victim and caused a sprain or broke a bone, the victim would not be able to seek compensation under the strict liability statute.
  • Victims cannot use California's strict liability statute against military or police dogs who bit them while performing their military or law enforcement duties.

Why Do Dogs Bite? Reasons Canines May Attack

Dogs may have a reputation for being “man's best friend,” but the reality is that they attack more than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), canines bite approximately 4.5 million people each year and, unfortunately, there are almost as many reasons for these attacks as there are the attacks themselves.

Dog bites and attacks may occur for several common reasons, including:

Worn Beware of the Dog Sign - los angeles dog bite attorneys

  • Medical problems, including pain. Canines who are ill may not have the coping skills of their healthy counterparts.
  • Genetic predisposition to aggression. Some dog breeds—such as Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and others bred for their protective or fighting skills—may be more likely to attack than others.
  • Fear. Dogs who are afraid or feel threatened may react aggressively.
  • Learned aggression or abuse by its owner. In addition to a dog's nature (genetic predisposition), nurture also plays a role in determining a canine's temperament. Owners who constantly keep their dogs chained up, fail to properly socialize them, or otherwise mistreat them may be encouraging unwanted aggression.

What to Do After a Dog Bites in Los Angeles

Of the 4.5 million people who have suffered from dog bites each year, 885,000 will require medical treatment for dog bite injuries, such as:

  • Lacerations
  • Puncture Wounds
  • Infections
  • Nerve damage
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Face and throat injuries
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Cellulitis
  • Amputations
  • Long-lasting emotional disturbances, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome

Seeking medical treatment for your dog bite injuries as soon as possible may minimize potential long-term damage; it also provides an excellent opportunity to document your injuries in case you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit with Los Angeles dog bite attorneys to pursue compensation for damages.

In addition to seeking medical treatment for your dog bite injuries, there are steps you can take after you have been injured by a dog that may help strengthen a potential personal injury case:

  • Gather photographic evidence. If able, use a digital camera or the camera on your cell phone to take photos of the dog, the scene of the attack, and your injuries.
  • Identify the dog and its owner. Once you've identified the dog's owner, trade contact information with the owner, as well as with anyone who may have witnessed the attack.
  • Report the attack to the relevant authorities. Call and report the attack to the law enforcement agency that handles animal control. Depending on your area, this may be the regular police department or a dedicated unit.
  • Avoid accepting or placing blame and discussing money or financial settlements. While apologizing or placing blame may feel right, doing so—as well as asking for money or discussing financial settlements—can harm a future personal injury case.

What to Expect When You Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer in California

When you've experienced a dog bite in California, teaming up with a dog bite lawyer involves a series of essential steps. Initially, there's a crucial consultation where you get to share the nitty-gritty details of your case. This allows the attorney to gauge the situation, clarify your legal rights, and chat about potential paths forward. Following this, a thorough case evaluation kicks in, where evidence is gathered, and a personalized legal strategy takes shape.

Throughout the process, open and regular communication is key. You can expect updates on negotiations, settlements, or court proceedings. This ongoing dialogue ensures you're in the loop, easing any uncertainties you might have. The next phase usually involves negotiations aimed at securing a fair settlement, covering medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages incurred due to the dog bite.

If negotiations don't quite cut it, your attorney is ready to take things to court. Be it through settlement or a court verdict, the end goal is a just and fair financial award for your injuries. Your dog bite lawyer in California is there as your knowledgeable ally, guiding you and championing your rights at every step in a way that feels natural and supportive.

Hiring a Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney for Your Dog Attack Injuries

In California, a statute of limitations determines how long a victim has to file a lawsuit before forfeiting their right to pursue a legal remedy. In personal injury cases, this time period is two years. Victims of dog bites must file their personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date they were attacked if they wish to pursue compensation for their injuries.

Dog bite injury cases in Los Angeles can be tricky, as the attacking dog and its owner are often known to the victim, which can create some tense social situations. Working with seasoned dog bite attorneys can help keep the situation from becoming personal between the victim and the dog owner and can help increase the likelihood that you'll be able to secure a financial award that's just and fair. Contact a Steinberg Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982