Canine attacks are often sudden and unexpected, but can result in serious injuries. Depending upon the circumstances, California law allows dog owners to be held both civilly and criminally liable for dog bite injuries. However, you'll want to consult an experienced Rancho Cucamonga dog bite lawyer to help maximize your chance of receiving the accident-related compensation you deserve.
Common Dog Bite Injuries Suffered in Rancho Cucamonga
- Puncture Wounds and Lacerations. Almost all dog bite attacks involve puncture wounds and lacerations. The severity of the injury and its location on a person's body, will be a major factor in determining the value of a dog bite injury case. If these wounds require medical attention, prompt attention to those wounds is important. The sooner medical attention is provided to treat the dog bite wound, the more likely one can reduce infection and more significant scarring.
- Broken Bones. The force of a dog's jaws can cause broken bones, most often in the extremities. Victims may also sustain fractures if they are pushed to the ground or fall while trying to run away from the attacking canine. Minor bone fractures can heal in as little as six weeks, but a significant break can take three to four months to heal.
- Nerve Damage. Nerve damage from a dog bite attack can result in loss of sensation, or hypersensation and limited range of motion. There are three types of nerve damage: neurapraxia, axonotmesis, and neurotmesis. Most victims with neurapraxia and axonotmesis will recover with physical therapy, but others with neurotmesis can be left with lasting disabilities.
- Head Injuries. Head injuries can occur if the dog pushes the victim to the ground or if he or she falls while trying to run away. A concussion is the most common type of head injury relating to a dog bite attack. Concussions can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, visual disturbances, and mental confusion. Mental and physical rest is necessary for recovery, resulting in the victim being required to miss work or school for several days. A serious dog bite attack could result in a traumatic brain injury leading to permanent cognitive impairment.
- Emotional Injuries. While the physical injuries from a dog bite attack may be the most readily apparent to the naked eye, the psychological trauma can leave lasting emotional scars. Children are particularly vulnerable to emotional distress following a dog bite attack. Victims of a dog bite attack may experience an intense fear of dogs, anxiety, and nightmares. Those who were left with disfiguring scars may also suffer from body image issues related to the change in their appearance. A personal injury claim can include compensation for emotional pain and suffering, as well as the cost of any therapy or medication prescribed to treat the psychological effects of a dog bite.
- Death. In rare cases, dog bite attacks are fatal. Fatal dog bite attacks are most likely when the victim is a child or there are multiple dogs involved in the attack. When a dog bite attack results in a fatality, the victim's parent, spouse, domestic partner, adult child, or next of kin can file a wrongful death claim. This is a special type of personal injury suit that seeks compensation for accident-related expenses as well as the tragic loss of life due the negligence of the dog's owner.
Common Reasons for Canine Attacks According to Our Rancho Cucamonga Dog Bite Attorney
A dog that attacks a pedestrian, runner, or cyclist is responding to his natural prey instinct. When a dog sees an intruder enter his territory, he'll bark to defend his personal space. The intruder is already planning to leave, but the dog does not know this. Seeing the intruder leave creates reinforcement of the barking behavior and makes the dog slowly become more aggressive each time someone wanders by. If the dog's owner doesn't keep this behavior in check, the animal may eventually progress to biting or otherwise attacking someone.
When a dog bites after being pet or played with, it's because he views the victim's behavior as a threat. Dogs generally do not like to be distributed when they are sleeping, eating, chewing on a favorite toy, or caring for their puppies. Since they can't express their feelings in words, they'll use body language to signal their anger. A dog who is feeling agitated may have a tensed body, stiff tail, furrowed brow, and a pulled back head or ears. He may also be staring intensely, flicking his tongue, or trying to back away. If this body language doesn't stop the undesirable behavior, the dog may bite as a final form of expressing his displeasure.
What to Do if You’re Attacked and Bitten by a Dog
If you are attacked by a dog, the safest course of action is to give the dog your purse, backpack, or bicycle to put a barrier between you and the dog. If this isn't possible, remaining motionless and resisting the urge to scream is the best way to protect yourself from dog bite injuries. If you fall, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears. Seek help as soon as the dog loses interest in you.
Any dog bite will require medical attention. Your care provider will wash and clean your wounds, giving you stitches if necessary. Wounds will be dressed with antibiotic ointment and sterile bandages to reduce the risk of infection. Tests may be done to rule out the possibility of nerve or muscle damage.
Your care provider will want to locate the owner of the dog to determine if the dog has received all his vaccinations, including a rabies shot. Being bitten by an unvaccinated dog will require you to receive more extensive treatment as a precautionary measure
California's Strict Liability Dog Bite Law States
The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
Under California's strict liability law, it doesn't matter whether or not the dog that bit you has displayed aggressive behavior in the past; in California, a dog's owner is responsible for the harmful or vicious actions of his or her dog, regardless of past behavior or location.
How to Find the Best Dog Bite Lawyer in Rancho Cucamonga
Testimonials and reviews from past clients are important when vetting potential attorneys for your case. You wouldn’t hire somehow who doesn’t communicate properly, or who treats their clients as just another number, so reading about experiences from former clients can give you insight into how the attorney and their team handles these types of cases, and their clients in particular. Google reviews can be very helpful, as well as reviews on legal profile sites like AVVO and SuperLawyers.
Experience matters. Not all personal injury lawyers are the same. Not all injury attorneys have experience with dog bites and canine attacks. Some PI attorneys may have a ton of experience with car accidents, but none with dog bites. You should never hire an attorney without asking them how many dog bite cases they’ve handled and what the results from those cases were. When looking for the best dog bite lawyer in Rancho Cucamonga, it’s important to use an attorney that has lots of experience with canine attacks.
One more great way to vet potential attorneys is by asking family and friends. Obviously doing your research on the attorneys is important, but using someone that a family member or friend has used and trusts is super helpful.
Our Rancho Cucamonga Dog Bite Lawyer Understands California’s Laws
At the Inland Empire Law Group, our Rancho Cucamonga dog bite lawyer takes California's strict liability dog bite law seriously. As a longtime member of the Rancho Cucamonga community, David Ricks knows how important it is for children to be able to play safely in their own backyard without coming to harm. Almost half of dog bite attacks happen to children under 14 — and about 500 children visit hospital emergency rooms each day seeking medical attention for dog mauling injuries.
If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog in San Bernardino County or Riverside County, our experienced attorney will assemble a team to take on your serious injury case. Our teams, which consist of an experienced personal injury lawyer, a highly trained paralegal, and a skilled administrative assistant, will work together with you to formulate a plan of action. We welcome questions, involvement, and honesty — qualities that have earned Inland Empire Law Group the respect of the community and other legal professionals alike over the last two decades.
Negligent dog owners who do not restrain or fence their dogs are not just "careless" or "bad pet owners" — they are making our backyards, playgrounds, and communities less safe for others. More than that, they are breaking the law and are responsible for the damages that their dog caused to you or your child.
Contact Our Dog Bite Law Firm Today to Discuss Your Canine Attack Case
Dog bites can have serious mental and physical repercussions, especially in children. If the owner of the dog that attacked you or a loved one was negligent, then they are responsible for your medical bills, the continuing cost of chronic conditions such as PTSD, and your pain and suffering.
How do you know if your dog bite case holds water? Contact our law firm today! Our Rancho Cucamonga personal injury lawyer will sit down with you in full confidence to discuss your case and your options moving forward. Our free, no-obligation consultations can either give you a plan or of action or simply the peace of mind that you fully explored your dog attack legal options.
Nationwide Dog Bite Statistics
Often, dog attack victims are left with nerve damage, scarring, infections, emotional trauma, lacerations, puncture wounds, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
It is easy to say that dogs are animals and that you can't expect a dog to be responsible for its aggressive or dangerous behavior. However, the dog's owner has a legal responsibility to keep their pets from harming others, and if they don't, a competent dog bite lawyer can make sure you recover damages.
A collection of national and medical study-specific nonfatal and fatal dog bite injury-related statistics collected and reported by DogsBite.org:
*collected from the CDC