Have you been injured by a dog bite or attack? Here are the Top 10 Steps to take to ensure that your dog bite injury is treated properly and that your potential civil claim has the best chance of success leading to maximum financial compensation.
What are the Most Important Steps to Take After A Dog Bite or Attack?
- Attend to your health/seek immediate medical attention
- Identify the owner of the dog
- Identify the residence of the owner and animal (i.e. exchange contact info and any documents related to the health of the dog, including vaccination/medical records, insurance information, etc.)
- Determine if/when the dog has had rabies shots (and confirm said shots are up to date)
- Document where the dog bite incident occurred
- Take photos and videos of the incident scene
- Take photos and videos of your injuries
- Contact your local Animal Control Department and file an official report
- Treat your dog bite injuries properly at home following any medical examination or hospital stay
- Contact an experienced and proven Los Angeles dog bite lawyer
Let’s review those steps individually and in greater detail below. We’ll also discuss how California law applies to dog bite attacks, review how to file a dog bite injury civil lawsuit with the experienced lawyers at Martinian & Associates, and look at what types of damages may be recovered via either a cash settlement or verdict.
Top 10 Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Injury
A dog bite injury can be a traumatic experience. While they’re known as man’s best friend, even the most well-behaved dogs can attack a stranger without warning. In California, dog owners have a duty of care to all people which guarantees, under the law, their safety from attacks, bites, and any other types of dangerous aggression. As we’ll discuss in greater detail below, California is a state which does not follow the “one bite” rule, which allows owners to avoid liability if their pet does not have a history of aggression and attacks for the first time.
After a dog bite injury, there are some important steps you should take to not only preserve your overall health and well-being, but also to ensure that you’re able to successfully file a civil lawsuit for damages.
What are the most important steps to take after a dog bite injury?
#1 ·Attend to your health/seek immediate medical attention: Your health is the utmost priority after a dog bite or attack. Ensuring that any visible injuries you’ve sustained are attended to is paramount. However, it’s also critical that you undergo a thorough medical examination to rule out (or identify) any latent injuries which may develop over time due to the dog bite. Seeking medical care from a licensed physician after a dog bite is the best means for keeping you healthy and free from viruses like rabies or common bacterial infections such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, pasteurella, and capnocytophaga. Moreover, seeking medical attention after a dog bite establishes a record of your injuries and confirms when the incident occurred. This can be extremely important if you decide to pursue a civil claim seeking financial compensation against the animal’s owner. Sadly, in many legitimate dog bite cases, victims wait to seek medical attention, and the cash settlements received through their civil claims are minimized accordingly.
#2 ·Identify the owner of the dog: If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury, it’s important to determine whether the individual with the animal was in fact its owner. If, for instance, the animal was being handled by a dog walker – an employee of the actual owner – determining the identity of that owner will be necessary in order to pursue a civil claim for damages. Furthermore, if a human was not present with the animal at the time of the incident, it may be difficult to determine the identity of the owner. That’s why taking photos and videos of the dog that bit you can be extremely important (though this should not be done in a way that may jeopardize your health or safety).
#3 ·Identify the residence of the owner and animal (i.e. exchange contact info and any documents related to the health of the dog, including vaccination/medical records, insurance information, etc.): If the animal owner is present at the time of the attack, be sure to take photos/videos of his or her driver’s license, vehicle license (if applicable), and of the individual as well in case he or she needs to be identified later. Moreover, in addition to exchanging all pertinent contact information, ask the owner for documentation related to the dog’s medical history – vaccination records, insurance information, etc.
#4 ·Determine if/when the dog has had rabies shots (and confirm said shots are up to date): As a follow-up to the previous step, it’s important to confirm verbally with the dog’s owner whether or not the animal has had rabies shots (and that they are up to date). However, verbal confirmation is recommended in addition to obtaining physical documentation in the form of rabies vaccination records. If the owner indicates that his or her dog is up to date on its rabies shots, politely request a copy of those records as soon as possible when you exchange contact information. If the owner is unsure if the animal has had its rabies shots, be sure to alert your physician during the aforementioned medical examination in step one.
#5 ·Document where the dog bite incident occurred: The location of the dog bite attack can be essential evidence in your personal injury civil lawsuit. After a dog bite, you may be experiencing a great deal of stress and trauma. Accordingly, be sure to at least make note of where and at what time/date the incident occurred for your own personal records.
#6 ·Take photos and videos of the incident scene: Any evidence you can gather at the scene of the dog bite incident may be helpful in an eventual civil lawsuit. Whether it’s an open or broken gate which the animal was able to breach in order to attack you, or simply the yard of the animal owner (with or without a fence), taking pictures and videos of the surrounding area can help your personal injury lawyer form a compelling case towards maximum financial compensation for your injuries.
#7 ·Take photos and videos of your injuries: Injuries may look severe immediately following the dog bite attack, but the next day they may heal and not give a clear indication of the type of trauma you truly sustained. Accordingly, documenting your injuries by photo and video immediately after the dog bite attack is strongly recommended. Proving your case and ensuring you receive fair financial compensation can be aided with accurate injury photos and videos which demonstrate the full severity and degree of your injuries.
#8 ·Contact your local Animal Control Department and file an official report: Animal Control for dog bite attacks is the equivalent of police or local law enforcement agencies for assaults and other criminal acts. Once your injuries have been attended to by a physician and you’re able to do so, contacting your local Animal Control office and filing an official report is essential.
#9 ·Treat your dog bite injuries properly at home following any medical examination or hospital stay: After receiving proper medical care, your physician may recommend administering at-home follow-up care. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this may entail:
- Washing the wound: Use mild soap, and run warm tap water over it for five to 10 minutes.
- Slowing the bleeding: With a clean cloth.
- Applying over-the-counter antibiotic cream: If you have Neosporin or another triple-antibiotic ointment available, apply regularly to affected area.
- Wrap the wound in a sterile bandage.
- Keep the wound covered/bandaged and follow-up with your medical care provider.
- Once your doctor has examined the wound, be sure to change the bandage regularly.
- Remain vigilant for signs of infection, including redness, swelling, increased pain, and fever.
#10 ·Contact an experienced and proven Los Angeles dog bite lawyer: After a dog bite injury, you may be facing a number of headaches, including mounting hospital and medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. The importance of hiring the best dog bite lawyer to handle your case and fight for the maximum financial compensation you deserve simply can’t be understated. The team of qualified, proven, and dedicated dog bite attorneys at Martinian & Associates has been helping injured victims secure justice for more than 20 years. We’re here to fight aggressively on your behalf to ensure you make a full recovery that includes your physical, emotional, and financial well-being.
Is California a “One Bite” Rule or Strict Liability State?
A number of states follow what’s known as the one-bite rule. The one bite rule imposes liability on pet owners only in instances where their animal has previously bitten a human.
Conversely, California imposes what’s known as strict liability for dog bites and attacks.
Under California’s strict liability law, an injured victim does not have to prove that a dog had a previous history of bites or attacks in order to successfully recover financial compensation in a civil lawsuit with the help of Martinian & Associates.
California Civil Code 3342(a) 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.”
The above language means that a dog bite victim does not have to prove that the aggressive animal had a history of dangerous behavior to be eligible to file a civil lawsuit. All California dog owners can be held liable whenever their pets bite humans.
Can I Recover Financial Compensation After a Dog Bite?
At Martinian & Associates, we’ve successfully handled countless dog bite cases for decades. If you’ve been injured in a dog bite or attack, you are likely entitled to financial compensation for various economic and non-economic damages.
What types of damages may be recovered in a dog bite injury civil lawsuit?
Some common examples include:
- Hospital and medical expenses
- Rehabilitation or therapy
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Reduced quality of life
By contacting the experienced and dedicated attorneys at Martinian & Associates, we can help you file a claim and recover maximum financial compensation for all applicable damages following your dog bite injury.
Does the Animal Owner’s Insurance Cover a Dog Bite or Attack?
In most cases, both homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies include personal injury claim coverage for dog bites.
A typical policy may include:
- Coverage ranging from anywhere between $100,000 and $300,000 for a dog bite incident
In cases where a dog bite injury leads to severe or catastrophic injuries, and the overall damages exceed $300,000, the at-fault animal owner will likely have to pay any additional costs out-of-pocket.
How Common are Dog Bite Insurance Claims?
The Insurance Information Institute (III) confirms that dog bites are actually the most common liability claim on homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies. Depending on the severity of the dog bite, your claim payout can vary – typically around $50,000 on the low-end of the spectrum and upwards of several million dollars for severe or catastrophic injury settlements or verdicts.
However, although homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover most dog bites, some breeds may be excluded (depending on the specific policy).
Common dog breeds excluded from homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies include:
- Pit bulls
- Wolf hybrids
- German shepherds
What is the Deadline for Filing a California Dog Bite Injury Claim?
California dog bite victims have a limited window of time to file claims and recover financial compensation. In most cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the incident. In other words, you typically have two years from the date of the dog bite injury to file a claim. However, the Martinian & Associates team of lawyers strongly encourages all dog bite victims to file claims as soon as possible. Doing so preserves evidence, allows our investigators to conduct a proper examination and identify the at-fault party, and ensures you receive the proper medical care to support your case.
Moreover, it should be noted that if your dog bite involved an animal owned by a public or government entity (e.g. police dogs, etc.), you may only have six months to file a claim. Accordingly, it’s recommended that you reach out to a Martinian & Associates dog bite lawyer for a free consultation as soon as possible to discuss your claim.
If you’ve suffered any type of dog bite injury, don’t settle for anything less than the Martinian & Associates Advantage. We will fight aggressively and strategically to recover you the largest possible cash settlement based on the circumstances of your unique claim.
Contact one of our California dog bite injury attorneys today at 323-850-1900 for a free, confidential, and no obligation consultation.
Martinian & Associates is a leading Los Angeles dog bite and personal injury firm. And when you choose M&A, you never have to worry about upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses. We won’t charge a penny until after successfully securing maximum financial compensation for your dog bite injury claim. If we don’t win for you, you don’t pay – it’s that simple.
Reach out to a member of the Martinian & Associates team today to learn more. We’ve helped injured victims like you secure more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts, and we’ll fight tirelessly to get you the maximum cash settlement you deserve.