Helping Our Clients Get The Compensation They Deserve
A dog attack can be a frightening and life-changing experience. Particularly when a child is a victim, serious injuries may be inflicted that may leave lasting physical and emotional scars.
At Martinian Lawyers, our dog bite lawyers in Los Angeles are committed to providing skilled legal representation to clients throughout the Los Angeles area who have been bitten by dogs or attacked by other animals. In California, dog owners are held strictly liable for injuries inflicted by their dogs, and this means that the victim may be entitled to compensation without having to prove fault: that the dog was dangerous or had a history of aggression.
Would you like to discuss your legal rights after a dog attack? Talk to a Los Angeles personal injury attorney at our firm. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and we handle these cases on a contingent fee basis. You pay no legal fees unless we win.
What At Our Los Angeles Dog Bites Injury Attorney Will Do For You
At Martinian Lawyers, we pride ourselves on our steadfast commitment to providing outstanding legal advocacy. Our highly experienced attorneys not only bring their extensive knowledge but also genuine empathy and concern for every client we represent. As you engage with us, you’ll immediately sense our profound grasp of the emotional intricacies tied to legal challenges.
For a Los Angeles dog bite injury, we will bring the following to the table:
- Extensive Case Analysis: At Martinian Lawyers, we immerse ourselves in the details of your dog bite incident. We are committed to meticulously crafting a robust claim that genuinely reflects the unique challenges and circumstances you’ve faced.
- Masterful Negotiations: Leveraging our vast experience, we navigate negotiations with insurance companies adeptly, always aiming to secure the maximum possible compensation for the trauma you’ve endured.
- Dedicated Court Representation: If your case moves to the courtroom, you can trust our skilled team to passionately advocate on your behalf, fighting to protect your rights and best interests.
- Multilingual Support Tailored for You: Understanding the diverse backgrounds of our valued clients, we’re proud to provide multilingual support to bridge any communication gaps. Our dedicated team includes interpreters fluent in Spanish, Russian, Armenian, Georgian, and Hindi, ensuring that every client feels understood and represented accurately.
Who is Liable After A Dog Bite in California?
California Civil Code § 3342 addresses the liability of dog owners when attacks occur. Unlike dog bite laws in other states that implement a “one bite rule” that protects the owners of dogs that have never bitten anyone before, California implements strict liability for dog bites.
Los Angeles Dog Bites Statistics
According to the American Medical Veterinary Association, about 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, with nearly 800,000 requiring medical care. About two-thirds of these attacks occurred on or near the property of the victim, and most victims knew the dog. Half of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old, and more than 80% of emergency room visits from dog bites involve children under 15 years old.
The Implications of California Civil Code § 3342(a)
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health offers the following information on their website, taken from California Civil Code § 3342(a):
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.
What does this mean if you have been bitten? It means that the owner of the dog may be held accountable, even if the dog has never shown aggression or bitten anyone in the past.
This makes it extremely important to identify the owner of a dog in the event of an attack. The owner may be held liable for medical bills and other expenses associated with the injuries inflicted by the dog. The victim would not need to prove that the dog was aggressive or dangerous, only that the dog caused the injuries and that the defendant was the owner of the dog in question.
Exceptions to the Strict Liability Rule for Los Angeles Dog Bites
Here are some examples of exceptions we see at Martinian Lawyers:
- Trespassing – The strict liability rule applies if the victim was bitten in a public place or lawfully in a private place. If the victim was trespassing, the dog owner might not be held liable for the bite.
- Police and Military Dogs – If a dog used by police or military personnel bites someone while performing its duties, the owner (or the relevant department) may not be liable, as long as the bite occurred in response to annoying, harassing, or provoking behavior.
- Assumption of Risk – Individuals who understand the risk of being bitten (like veterinarians or professional dog groomers) may not have a valid claim under the strict liability rule. This is often known as the “assumption of risk.”
- Provocation – If the victim provoked the dog, leading to the bite, the owner might not be held responsible for any resulting injuries.
- Dog Sitter or Caretaker Liability – In some cases, liability might extend to a person who is taking care of or controlling the dog, not necessarily the legal owner. However, this depends on the specific circumstances and the level of control the caretaker has over the dog.
Common Injuries in Los Angeles Dog Bite Accidents
Dog bites can yield a wide array of injuries from mild to severe. Puncture wounds are common and pose a risk as they can be deep, leading to potential infections and damage to underlying tissues and organs. Often, victims also suffer from lacerations and abrasions that might result in significant scarring and disfigurement if not addressed properly. Larger breeds can inflict crushing injuries to bones, notably in hands, arms, and legs due to their powerful jaws. Furthermore, many victims sustain facial injuries, including considerable scarring, disfigurement, and damage to vital facial features like eyes, nose, and mouth.
In addition to these physical injuries, dog bites can also lead to nerve damage, temporarily or permanently impairing sensation and function in the affected areas. The risk of infections, including serious ones like tetanus and rabies, is heightened, necessitating prompt and appropriate medical intervention. Psychological trauma is another consequential effect of dog bites, with victims, particularly children, likely to experience PTSD, anxiety, and a developed fear of dogs. Lastly, bites may induce substantial soft tissue damage, affecting muscles, tendons, and ligaments, possibly requiring surgical procedures and leading to lasting or permanent disabilities.
Evidence to Prove a Los Angeles Dog Bite Injury Claim
To substantiate a dog bite claim in Los Angeles, presenting compelling evidence is crucial. Firstly, comprehensive medical records are indispensable, detailing the extent of injuries, treatment protocols, and associated medical costs, thereby highlighting the bite’s severity and financial implications. Photographic evidence is also pivotal, providing a visual record of the injuries and the incident, with photos over time showcasing the injury’s progression and healing.
Witness testimonies can offer invaluable support, corroborating the victim’s recount of events and supplying additional perspectives crucial for fact-establishing. Ownership documentation, including registration, microchip data, or vet records, is essential for identifying the liable party, usually the dog’s owner. Reports filed with animal control services provide an official incident account, potentially including valuable information regarding the dog’s history and the incident circumstances.
Surveillance footage from nearby security or traffic cameras can offer a real-time incident depiction, fortifying the victim’s claim. Expert testimony from professionals such as veterinarians or animal behaviorists can offer authoritative opinions on the dog’s temperament, victim’s injuries, and anticipated recovery trajectory, enhancing the claim’s credibility. Psychological evaluations post-incident are vital if the victim undergoes trauma, documenting the dog bite’s emotional and mental toll. Lastly, if injuries led to work absences, documenting lost wages and diminished earning capacity is needed for economic damage calculation.
How Our Los Angeles Dog Bite Injury Attorneys Can Help With Insurers
Insurance companies in Los Angeles often employ challenging and complex tactics when dealing with dog bite accidents, making it difficult for claimants to receive the compensation they deserve. Some companies deliberately delay the claims process, attempting to exhaust claimants and push them to accept lower settlements or miss the lawsuit filing deadline. The insurers may also outright deny liability, asserting that either the victim contributed to the accident through their negligence or their policyholder isn’t responsible for the incident. Furthermore, initial offers tend to undervalue the actual worth of a claim, exploiting claimants who may lack understanding of their claim’s value.
Insurance adjusters may also dispute the severity and extent of injuries sustained during the incident, arguing against the claimed medical treatment costs. Some companies request extensive and sometimes unnecessary documentation, further complicating the process and creating hurdles for the claimant. They often take advantage of the complex language and terms in insurance policies, twisting or misinterpreting them to limit liability. Additionally, victims’ statements can be exploited, with adjusters misconstruing their words to minimize the policyholder’s liability, further complicating the claims process for the victims. Our Los Angeles dog bite injury lawyers know how to navigate these tactics and prevent insurers from minimizing what you are entitled to.
Our Personal Injury Attorney is Here for You
If you or your child have been bitten, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel. You may even be able to seek compensation if your pet was attacked by a dog. The majority of dog bite claims are paid by homeowners’ insurance policies, which often cover such attacks. In fact, the insurance industry pays out more than $1 billion for dog bite claims each year.
Contact Martinian Lawyers Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorneys today for a FREE consultation!