Sacramento Dog Bite Lawyer
Dogs are some of the most popular pets in the United States, and when trained and handled properly they can be incredible companions and protectors. Unfortunately, however, dog attacks occur with relative frequency, and many people throughout the United States have suffered severe and even fatal injuries from unprovoked dog attacks. When you suffer injuries from a dog attack, it is crucial to build knowledge about your legal rights as well as explore your legal options to recover compensation for your damages.
At the Ward Firm, our team provides skilled legal representation for a wide range of personal injury cases. If you have been injured by a dog in the Sacramento area and believe the attack occurred due to the dog owner’s negligence, we can aid you in holding them accountable and securing compensation for your losses, including medical bills, lost income, and more.
What Happens If I Was Bit by a Dog?
If you are bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog your first concern should be your personal safety and wellbeing. Remove yourself from immediate danger, then call 911 for help and to report the incident. If someone is with you when the attack occurs, stabilize your injuries as much as possible while they call for help. A severe dog attack may require ambulance transportation to the nearest hospital and emergency medical treatment.
It is best to try and secure as much evidence as possible from the scene as soon as possible after the attack. However, this may not be possible in some situations. Seek medical treatment immediately if you or a loved one are injured by a dog in any way.
California upholds a strict liability law when it comes to dog attacks. This means if someone’s dog injures another person while the individual is lawfully at the location where the attack occurred (i.e., the person is not trespassing or otherwise present illegally), the dog’s owner is strictly liable for any and all damages resulting from the incident. Other states uphold “one bite” laws and similar statutes that provide some measure of legal protection for dog owners. However, if your dog attack occurred in the Sacramento, CA area, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner regardless of whether the owner knew the dog could be dangerous.
What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog With Rabies
Rabies is a contagious disease only carried by mammals. While many wild animals can carry rabies—including raccoons, foxes, squirrels, and bats—almost all cases of human rabies infection originate from dogs. Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any infectious disease, so if rabies infection remains untreated, the victim has a high likelihood of experiencing a painful death. Rabies attacks the central nervous system and has a one to three-month incubation period before noticeable symptoms appear. These symptoms can include fever, confusion, hallucinations, paralysis, and others, eventually escalating to coma, organ failure, and death.
If you are bitten by a dog that you think may have been rabid, it is crucial to seek medical treatment immediately. In the interim between the attack and your receiving medical treatment, wash the wound as thoroughly as possible with a disinfectant; this can potentially prevent infection. Physicians can successfully treat rabies with a postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) injection that has a 100% cure rate if administered soon enough after a bite. This treatment includes a fast-acting initial shot followed by four subsequent injections administered over two weeks.
Can a Vet Sue If Your Dog Bites?
California’s strict liability statute concerning dog owners’ liability for injuries their pets cause upholds that the individual with direct supervision and responsibility over a dog is responsible for any injuries that the dog inflicts on others. This means that when you leave your dog at the vet for treatment, the veterinarian becomes the primary custodian of your dog while it is in their care. If the dog attacks the vet, the vet does not have the right to file a lawsuit against you, as they were acting as the dog’s primary custodian at the time the attack occurred.
Does a Dog Have to Be Put Down If It Bites Someone in California?
The California strict liability law pertaining to dog attacks holds a dog’s owner liable for a bite, not the dog itself. This means that if a dog bites someone, it will not need to be put down. The only time a dog attack may lead to the euthanasia of the dog would be if the dog is proven to be incurably rabid or excessively dangerous and hostile. In most cases, a dog that attacks a person must be quarantined by the owner for a specified period before the owner can take the dog out in public again.
Should I Get a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Dog Bite?
If you suffered injuries in a dog attack, it is a good idea to consult with a Sacramento dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your potential recovery options. California’s strict liability statute states that the dog’s owner is liable for any and all injuries and economic damages their pet causes. An experienced attorney can review the details of the incident and assess your damages. They can also help you establish the owner’s liability for your losses.
Technically, you do not need to hire an attorney to file a personal injury claim for a dog attack injury. However, it would be exceedingly difficult to manage the administrative side of your case while also managing your recovery. Hiring legal counsel can streamline the process and increase your chances of securing a reasonable amount of compensation for your losses. An experienced attorney can handle the procedural requirements of your case so you can focus on recovery.
How Much Money Can You Get From a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
In the state of California, personal injury statutes outline a dog bite victim’s rights to pursue compensation for the damages they experienced due to the defendant’s negligence. A dog bite lawsuit can potentially yield significant compensation for the victim, including:
- Coverage for medical expenses. The plaintiff can claim both immediate and future medical costs in their personal injury suit. “Medical expenses” can include hospital bills, ambulance fees, surgery costs, and long-term care required after the incident.
- Property damage. In the event a dog attack results in damage to the victim’s personal property, they can claim repair or replacement costs in their lawsuit.
- Lost income. A dog attack can result in severe injuries that leave the victim unable to work. The plaintiff can claim wages lost during their recovery period. If they are left permanently disabled and cannot return to work at all, their attorney can help them claim their lost future earning capacity as well.
- Pain and suffering. Experiencing a dog attack can be a frightening, traumatic, and painful experience. California law allows a personal injury plaintiff to claim compensation for noneconomic damages including physical pain as well as the psychological effects that resulted from a dog bite. The amount the plaintiff can receive typically hinges on the severity of their injuries and the likelihood of the incident resulting in permanent damage.
Depending on the details of the case, a plaintiff may also receive punitive damages if the judge overseeing the case believes the defendant was egregiously negligent in their handling of the dog or intentionally allowed their dog to attack the plaintiff. The amount paid to the plaintiff in punitive damages will depend on the financial status of the defendant.
Proving Fault for a Dog Bite
When you are injured by someone else’s dog, your attorney must establish a few key elements to succeed with a dog bite lawsuit. First, your attorney must prove that you were legally present at the location where the accident occurred. For example, if you break into someone else’s home and their dog injures you, you cannot sue the dog owner since you were breaking the law and did not have the owner’s permission to enter their property. A dog owner is not liable for injuries their dog inflicts on invaders or trespassers.
If you intend to file a personal injury claim against the dog’s owner, your attorney must prove the full extent of your damages and provide clear evidence that your damages were the direct results of the dog attack and not some other cause. Your Sacramento dog bite lawyer will review the medical report from the doctor who treated your injuries. This document will outline the full extent of your injuries as well as your prognosis for any foreseen complications resulting from the incident in the future. This medical report will be one of the most crucial components of your case.
Potential Injuries From a Dog Attack
When most people think of “dog attacks,” they imagine biting injuries. The reality is that when a dog attacks a person, bites may be just one type of injury sustained by the victim. A large or even medium-sized dog can easily knock an adult to the ground, potentially causing secondary injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, broken bones, and internal organ damage. Depending on the strength of the dog’s jaws, the victim can suffer deep puncture wounds, lacerations, and even crushing injuries.
If a dog attack victim files a lawsuit against the owner of the dog that injured them, the victim will likely list more than just biting wounds in their claim. These lawsuits tend to include broken bones, facial injuries, wounds from biting and clawing, and psychological trauma. Dog attacks, especially those involving child victims, can also be fatal.
What to Expect in a Dog Attack Case
After you and your Sacramento dog bite attorney have fully assessed the scope of your damages and identified the party responsible for your injuries, you can begin the process of filing your personal injury claim. A personal injury case begins when the plaintiff files a Complaint with the local civil court, prompting the court to serve formal notice of the Complaint to the defendant named by the plaintiff. It is important to note that most personal injury claims are settled outside of court. External negotiations provide the most expedient resolution to a personal injury case for both plaintiff and defendant.
During settlement negotiations, the plaintiff will provide a complete breakdown of their damages. The defendant has the right to negotiate a settlement, or they may contest their liability and demand a trial. It is also possible for a defendant to accept liability but argue that the plaintiff is claiming excessive compensation. When settlement negotiations fail, the personal injury case proceeds to litigation. Unfortunately, the litigation process is often lengthier and more expensive for both parties.
What to Expect from Your Attorney
When you hire a Sacramento dog bite lawyer to represent you in a personal injury claim, you should expect close, personal attention and a thorough review of all the pertinent details of your case. Your attorney’s job is to maximize your recovery by exploring every potential avenue of compensation and helping you gather the evidence you need to prove the full extent of your damages. Personal injury attorneys encourage their clients to consider settlement negotiations first, but while negotiations can provide financial relief from your losses more quickly, there is no guarantee that settlement will prove fruitful. Thus, you should choose an experienced Sacramento dog bite lawyer who can guide you to a swift and satisfactory outcome through settlement but is not afraid of intense litigation should you need to take the case to court.
At the Ward Firm, we believe in client-focused personal injury representation, meaning we take the time to get to know you and how your dog attack experience has affected your life. Our team includes a wide network of experts and other legal professionals who can support your case and increase the likelihood of succeeding with your personal injury claim. We know that your dog attack experience was traumatic and damaging, and we will do everything in our power to ensure a fair and reasonable result in your case.
If you would like to discuss your options for legal recourse with an experienced Sacramento dog bite attorney, contact the Ward Firm today to schedule a consultation.