Mesriani Law Group’s experienced dog bite lawyers help bring justice to victims of dog attacks. We fight to recover damages for the pain and suffering you experienced in addition to any medical expenses and missed pay caused by the dog bite. California has strict dog bite liability laws that protect victims and hold owners responsible for any attacks, regardless of if the dog has a violent history or not. Mesriani La Group has a successful track record of winning dog bite cases, and our team is focused on getting you the settlement you need so you can fully recover.
Here are shortcuts to the specific topics:
- 1. Dog Bite Lawyers in Los Angeles
- 2. What a Dog Bite Lawyer Can Do for Dog Bite Victims
- 3. Why Choose Mesriani Law Group
- 4. What To Do After a Dog Bite?
- 5. Why Do Dogs Attack?
- 6. Common Dog Bite Injuries
- 7. Liability Statute in California for Dog Bites
- 8. Damages That Can Be Recovered from a Dog Bite Claim
William J. Kropach, Esq.
What Mesriani Law Group Can Do for Dog Bite Victims
If you or a loved one suffered dog bite injuries, you should reach out and get legal help from our experienced dog bite attorneys. Dog bites can cause serious damages, and even wrongful death. Even small dogs have sharp enough teeth and enough strength to cause severe damage to skin, muscle, and nerves. This damage can require a hospital visit, very expensive treatment and even surgery. Under no circumstances, should you be held responsible for any expenses that need to be paid during recovery. Any money spent during recovery is eligible for reimbursement including medical bills, medication costs, out of pocket expenses, wages lost from being unable to work, and even compensation for pain, trauma, and suffering. Our attorneys will build a strong case and negotiate with insurance companies to get you the compensation you need. If a settlement can’t be reached, our team will take the insurance company to court and fight for the full compensation you deserve.
Why Choose Mesriani Law Group
What To Do After a Dog Bite?
Dog bite attacks are extremely traumatic, and it will be difficult to focus on anything in the spur of the moment other than your injuries.
With that in mind, here are the things you need to do immediately after a dog bite attack:
- Remove yourself from danger: Your safety and well being is of the utmost importance. Dog bites can be vicious so separating yourself from the attacking dog is the top priority.
- Seek medical assistance immediately: Getting someone that knows how to evaluate the injury is critical to ensuring you are taken care of because dog bites can transmit diseases and cause infection in addition to the physical trauma that is inflicted. The wound will need to be cleaned and treated and depending on how severe the damage is, surgery may be needed.
- Collect evidence: Be sure to document the time and place of the incident as well as get any police reports, doctor’s evaluations, insurance information, etc.
- Speak to witnesses: Speak with any potential witnesses to see if they are willing to speak on your behalf.
- Take photos: Any images of injuries, locations, or attacking dog would help support your case.
- Get help building a dog bite case: Call an experienced dog bite attorney to ensure that you are building the best case possible.
- Call animal control to report the incident and dog.
Why Do Dogs Attack?
Dogs will sometimes attack when they feel threatened but there are other reasons that are less common that could prompt an attack:
- Illness: Dogs can get defensive if they are in pain from being sick. There may be parts of their body that are tender that they will defend someone from touching. There are also diseases like rabies that increase a dog’s aggressiveness.
- Fear: If a dog has been mistreated and does not know how to react to certain movements, they may act aggressively as a defense mechanism. Even if you meant no harm, the dog may not understand that and react as if you were a threat.
- Play: Dogs sometimes don’t realize their strength and aggressiveness so things may escalate when 2 dogs are playing and one of the dogs gets too excited.
- Territory: Dogs can be possessive of their perceived territory, possessions, or food. This can often lead to altercations as one dog accidentally triggers a fight.
- Maternal instinct: Females will protect their litters if she perceives you as a threat. If you attempt to approach the puppies, there is a chance you will face off with a defensive mother.
- Reaction to stress: Dogs can react poorly to new environments, stressful situations, and loud noises.
- Protecting owners: Dogs are extremely protective of their family and any perceived attack on a family member will be met with aggression.
Regardless of the reason, you should be able to make a claim to recover any expenses that were incurred as a result of a dog bite.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can result in some serious injuries and even death. In addition to the trauma and pain caused by the dog bite attack, there is always the chance of infection, disease, or other complications. Depending on the severity of the attack, cosmetic reconstructive surgery and trauma surgery may be needed. The level of damage done can even extend to nerve and muscle damage which could require on going treatment, physical therapy, and medication to help manage pain and improve mobility.
The following are the most common dog bite injuries:
- Fascial disfigurement
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Torn soft tissue & muscle
- Lacerations & open wounds
- Internal organ damage
- Blood loss
There are some serious complications that may arise from a dog bite.
Rabies – A viral infection that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected dog. Symptoms include:
Tetanus – Bacterial infection spread via open wound which causes symptoms like:
- Muscle stiffness
MRSA – Staphylococcus Aureus is a dangerous bacterial infection that is extremely difficult to treat. Symptoms include:
Sepsis – Happens when your body overreacts to an infection causing the following symptoms:
- Low blood oxygen levels
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure
- Blood clotting
Pasteurella – Bacteria found in animal saliva that causes symptoms like:
In addition to the diseases that can result from a dog bite, there is also the possibility of even more extreme outcomes like amputations, permanent disfigurement, permanent loss of mobility, on going psychological damage, and even death. The severity of the injury can be classified into one of 6 grades:
- Grade 1: minor scratching or bruising
- Grade 2: superficial bite marks but no puncture wounds
- Grade 3: puncture wounds
- Grade 4: deep wounds with ripped soft tissue
- Grade 5: multiple severe bite wounds
- Grade 6: dog bite fatality
The grade assigned to the dog bite will help determine the level of medical treatment required with grade 4-6 level wounds requiring serious medical treatment. These medical costs will be exorbitant and will require an experienced dog bite lawyer to help recover.
Liability Statute in California for Dog Bites
California has a strict liability statute for dog attacks that result in a dog bite injury.
According to California Civil Code Section 3342, the owner of a dog is responsible for the damages sustained by the victim of the dog bite or attack in a public or private place, including the dog owner’s property. This also applies regardless of the dog’s past viciousness of its owner’s awareness of its viciousness.
It is important to note, that California does not recognize a “one-bite rule” like other states. This rule is a loophole that forgives dogs for any aggression if it is their first offense. Strict liability on the other hand, holds owners accountable for any damages incurred if the dog acted in a public place or if the victim was attacked while acting lawfully on private property.
This places the liability of a pet’s actions on the owner. Owners will take full responsibility for any outcome that results from their dog attacking someone. The only exceptions to this rule are if the dog in question is:
- Defending against someone trespassing, breaking into, or burglarizing your home
- Defending against someone who is committing assault, battery, rape, or murder
- Defending against someone who is committing abuse or torture towards the dog
Liability in the state of California has even extended as far as landlords who have allowed tenants to have dangerous dog breeds on their premises. These cases have been rewarded to the victims which sets a precedent that landlords in California have a duty of care to protect against “dangerous” dog breeds when vetting tenants.
Damages That Can Be Recovered from a Dog Bite Claim
Victims of dog bite injuries can seek compensation for their damages. This compensation can include recovery for:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Lost income
- Emotional trauma
- Physical disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
In the event of wrongful death prompted by gross negligence or ill intent, punitive charges can sometimes be added on in the form of additional monetary compensation. These damages may prove difficult to win which is why having an experience dog bite attorney on your side is critical to maximizing your settlement.
Suing for Dog Bite Injuries
You should have a strong case as long as you were not provoking the dog or participating in trespassing or other illegal activities in a private household. Keep in mind, that you can only hold an owner responsible for dog attacks so the strict liability statute does not apply to anyone who may be temporarily watching the dog. To successfully file a claim for dog bite damages, you will need enough evidence that you were injured, and you will need to file a claim within the statute of limitations.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Cases
California statute of limitations for dog bite injuries is limited to 2 years. This is to ensure that cases are filed promptly while evidence is fresh but to also provide enough time for the victim to collect evidence and build a strong case. In some rare circumstances, the 2-year statute of limitations can be extended:
- When the victim is under 18; minors cannot sue so claims can be delayed until the victim is an adult
- When the victim is mentally or physically unable due to injuries sustained
- If the defendant flees the state
What You Need to Show to Have a Solid Legal Case in a Dog Bite Case
To pursue action for dog bite injuries, you must prove:
- The dog bit the victim
- The dog bite caused damage
- The victim was acting lawfully when the bite occurred
- The defendant owns the dog
If these things can be proven, the liability statute in California ensures that the victim has a strong case. A Mesriani dog bite lawyer will be able to collect evidence and build a case that will reward you with the compensation you deserve.
Collecting Evidence That Will Support Your Dog Bite Claim in California
The most important part of any legal battle is proving your claim. This requires securing as much evidence as possible as fast as possible. Evidence that will benefit your claim are:
- Photos of injuries sustained before and after treatment
- Receipts of all medical expenses and procedures done
- Photos of the dog and property with particular attention on warning signs, fences, open doors, etc.
- Eyewitness testimony
- Video / surveillance footage
- A copy of the police report
- Previous incident reports involving the aggressive dog
- Insurance information of dog owner
If you call Mesriani Law Group right after your dog bite incident, we can help with evidence collection and witness statements. We have an excellent understanding of the type of evidence used in court and will be looking to gather as much detail as possible to help support your dog bite case.
Who Is Ineligible to Sue for Dog Bites in California?
In addition to those that are exempted from the California liability statute, there are a few instances where there is little recourse for dog bite injuries:
- Victims of dog bites that were the result of law enforcement canines acting within the scope of their duties
- People who work professionally with canines who operate under the “Assumption of Risk Law” which states that individuals accept that there is a level of risk associated with their jobs; this includes vets, groomers, trainers, etc.
California Ranks High in Canine Attacks
According to statefarm.com, California has historically ranked the highest in number of dog attack related claims annually out of all states. This has stayed consistent with both 2019 and 2020 breaking new records for dog bite attacks in a year. In 2020, California qualified as top 3 states for dog bite fatalities even with fatal dog bite injuries being underreported. Based on prior years’ reported averages from 2015 – 2019, the 2020 average would have made California the #1 state for dog bite fatalities.
Dog Bite Fatalities
Over 4 million dog bites were reported in 2020 which resulted in 46 dog bite attack fatalities. The data indicates:
- 8 (17%) were infants <1 year old
- 7 (15%) were children under the age of 10
- 3 (7%) were between the ages of 10 and 18
- 28 (61%) were adults 18+
Dangerous Dog Breeds
A 16-year study tracking back to 2005 reported 568 dog attack fatalities in America by the end of 2021. Of that study, the breeds identified as most deadly were:
- Pitbulls: 380 (~67%)
- Rottweilers: 51 (9%)
- German Shepherds: 24 (4.2%)
- Mastiffs: 20 (3.5%)
- American Bulldog: 18 (3.2%)
- Huskies: 14 (2.5%)
In addition to the above, there are several other breeds that have been deemed “dangerous” by insurance companies and property managers:
- Doberman Pinschers: These dogs were often used as guard dogs and police dogs for their loyalty.
- Chow Chows: These dogs are prolific hunters and have been known to react extremely aggressive to perceived threats.
- Akitas: These large dogs are dominant and would have no problem with a small child or older individual.
Dog Bite Prevention
Understanding which dog breeds are dangerous and some reasons a dog might attack should help you prevent being attacked by a dog. Here are some additional tips that will help prevent dog bite attacks:
- Don’t approach stray or unknown dogs
- Never run away or scream when facing an approaching dog
- Remain calm and don’t make sudden movements around unknown dogs
- Avoid making eye contact with an aggressive or unknown dog
- Always ask owner to pet their dog
- Don’t disturb dogs when they are eating, sleeping, or nursing pups
- Allow a dog to get to know you by smell before petting
Owners can help take steps to reduce dog aggression by:
- Spaying or neutering dogs
- Socializing dogs around other dogs, animals, and children so the dogs know how to behave
- Minimizing stressful situations for your dog
Dog Attacks and Home-Owners Insurance
Even if prevention strategies fail and you become a victim of a dog attack, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance may cover damages. Homeowners insurance policies usually have liability coverage that covers dog bite injuries. That being said, there are several insurance companies that won’t insure “dangerous” breeds as the data supports that they come with more risk and cost more to settle.
Who to Contact If You Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?
Call Mesriani Law Group and speak to any of our experienced Dog Bite Lawyers if you or a love one has been the victim of a dog bite attack. There are things that our team can do immediately to start helping you build a successful case. Submit your information now to schedule a free consultation to go over what your options are and how we can secure you the compensation you deserve.
Dog Bite Lawyer FAQ’s
How much is a dog bite lawsuit worth?
- Dog bite lawsuits rewarded $122,000,000 to California victims in 2019. The average settlement was just over $50,000.
Can I sue for getting bit by a dog?
- Most instances of dog bites don’t result in serious injury. That being said, when a grade 4 or worse injury is incurred, surgery and medical treatment will likely be necessary. These costs should be recovered by the victim from the dog owner through a dog bite lawsuit.
Can you sue for a minor dog bite?
- Minor dog bites can still result in emotional trauma and PTSD. If there is significant psychological damage, then a lawsuit may be necessary to recoup the cost of expenses like therapy bills.