Bitten by someone else's dog and missing work or racking up medical bills as a result? You may be entitled to compensation. While some states only allow bite victims to pursue a recovery if the owner knew (or should have known) that the dog was dangerous, California follows strict liability standards. This means that you may be able to collect a personal injury settlement or financial recovery, even if the dog in question hadn't previously displayed aggressive tendencies or bit anyone.
However, what you can actually recover in a dog bite case depends on a wide range of factors, including the availability of evidence, available insurance coverage and the skill of your selected legal counsel. Considering filing a lawsuit to hold the owner of the dog that bit you accountable for your injuries and losses? We may be able to help. Here's what you should know.
Understanding Dog Bite Case Damages
The law lets you pursue a recovery for both economic and non-economic damages in the wake of an animal attack. Depending on the facts of your case, the exceptional legal team with the Inland Empire Law Group may be able to help you collect compensation for:
- Medical expenses associated with the attack (including ambulance transportation, emergency medical care, doctor's visits, hospitalizations, surgical procedures, prescription drugs, medically necessary travel costs, etc.)
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And other losses
What You Have to Prove After a Dog Bite
Recovering monetary damages in a California dog bite case requires more than just claiming you've suffered losses. In order to secure a fair financial recovery, you and your attorney have to prove the following points, which are known as the “elements” of a personal injury case:
- The defendant owned or had control over the dog that bit you.
- The dog bit you when you were in a public place or lawfully visiting private property.
- You suffered harm.
- The defendant's dog's actions were the proximate cause of that harm.
Factors That Could Affect Your Recovery After a Dog Bite
How much you can recover varies dramatically from case to case. Some factors that could affect your settlement or monetary award include:
- Available evidence. The more evidence to support your claim, the better. Attack-related medical records, witness statements, photos of your injuries, wage statements, and medical bills and receipts are just a few examples of items that could serve as essential evidence.
- Nature and severity of injuries. The more serious your injuries and the more they impact your life, the greater is the potential financial recovery. For example, the award in a case involving a disabling traumatic brain injury (TBI) that requires substantial long-term medical care would likely be larger than a case where the plaintiff suffered relatively minor lacerations and contusions.
- Available Insurance Coverage or Assets of the Defendant. You must be aware that many dog bite injuries result in no financial recovery because there is no insurance coverage available nor assets to compensate the bite victim. Most homeowner's insurance policies will provide some insurance coverage for a dog bite injury, however, many insurance carriers are excluding dog bite injuries from their insurance policies. Many other people do not have insurance or assets which can be used to compensate an injury vicitm. If there is no insurance or assets available to pay for the damages, then any judgment is an empty victory.
- Potential recovery at trial. If the defense is concerned about the amount a judge or jury could award you, they may opt to offer you a settlement to avoid going to trial. Our attorneys can help you fight for fair compensation.
- Available defenses. The strength of the defense's case—and whether they feel they could win at trial—can also influence your recovery.
- Skill of counsel. The knowledge and experience of your attorney—as well as the knowledge and experience of the opposing lawyer—can significantly affect the outcome of your case.
What to Do After a Dog Bite Attack
- Write down all contact information for people who witnessed the attack.
- Take photos of your injuries and the dog that bit you.
- Seek immediate medical attention and follow up with your doctor.
- Locate the dog's owner (we may be able to help).
- Consult an experienced California dog bite lawyer. (The Inland Empire Law Group is the right place to call for a Southern California dog bite claim.)
Request a Complimentary Case Review from our Experienced Dog Bite Attorney
California dog bite laws can be complicated and there's far too much at stake to go it alone. Fortunately, you don't have to. At the Inland Empire Law Group, we help dog bite victims just like you recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to find out how we can protect your rights throughout the civil litigation process. Complete the contact form to request a free initial consultation with a member of our accomplished legal team.