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Do I Need a Dog Bite Attack Lawyer if I’ve Been Bitten by a Stray Dog? What Legal Recourse Do I Have in Such Cases?

If a stray dog bit you, you may need a dog bite attack lawyer to help you prove liability and seek compensation for your injury. Just because a dog is a stray does not mean you do not have legal recourse. A dog bite lawyer can work to locate the animal’s owner or identify another responsible party and hold them financially accountable. 

Stray Dog Bite Liability: Your Options for Pursuing Damages

According to CCP § 3342, dog owners in California are strictly liable for dog bite injuries. Therefore, if you are legally on a property (i.e., not trespassing) and a dog bites you, its owner must pay for your damages, regardless of whether they acted negligently or knew their dog had previously displayed aggressive behavior (known as a one-bite rule). 

However, if you are bitten by a stray dog, what legal recourse do you have? A dog bite attorney can help you explore the following options for recovering personal injury compensation:

  • Locating the dog’s owner. Not all stray dogs are unowned. Sometimes, dogs get loose or lost, or owners allow them to run at large (despite being illegal in most cities). If possible, keep track of the dog that bit you and see if you can safely contain it, or call animal control for assistance. The dog may have a collar, microchip, or other identification, or its owner may turn up. A dog bite attack lawyer may even uncover information during your case’s investigation to help you find the party responsible for the animal. Once located, you can hold them liable for your injury. 
  • Identifying the dog’s “keeper” or “harborer.” If the stray dog has no owner, but an individual or business regularly feeds, houses, or cares for it, a dog attack lawyer can make the case that they “keep” or “harbor” the animal and are liable for your damages. 
  • Holding a property owner responsible. If a residential or commercial property owner routinely allows the dog that attacked you onto their property or has done nothing to keep the animal off the premises, they could be financially responsible for your bite. 
  • Pursuing a dog bite case against a municipality. Ultimately, a city’s animal control office is responsible for capturing stray animals. A dog bite lawyer may be able to argue that a municipality is liable for your dog bite, especially if authorities knew about the stray dog and did not address the situation.

Stray Dog Attack Compensation 

You can seek the following dog bite compensation from a liable party:

  • Current and future medical expenses, including emergency treatment, surgeries or cosmetic procedures, medications, and physical therapy 
  • Lost wages, earnings, and employment benefits
  • Loss of your future earning capacity if you suffered a permanent or disabling injury that interferes with your work capabilities
  • Personal property damages
  • Non-economic damages, including awards for physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, inconvenience, and diminished quality of life

Proving Your Dog Bite Injury Claim

Strict liability for dog bites means you do not have to establish that negligence caused your injury. However, you will need to prove that you suffered an injury and it led to financial damages. In the case of a stray dog bite, you may need to present evidence showing the defendant is responsible for the animal. 

In addition, strict liability only applies to bite injuries. It does not apply to other injuries, such as a broken bone or sprained ankle, that are a result of a dog attack. If you have medical damages from injuries other than a bite, you may need to prove that the dog’s owner (or keeper/harborer) behaved carelessly, recklessly, or wrongfully. Evidence in a dog bite claim or lawsuit may include the following:

  • Medical bills and records
  • Police reports
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Cell phone or surveillance video of your attack
  • Previous reports/complaints about the dog to an animal control officer
  • Veterinary records 
  • Receipts, bills, invoices, and other proof of your damages

How Long Do You Have to Pursue Stray Dog Bite Legal Recourse?

According to CCP § 335.1, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. Sadly, some dog bite injuries can be fatal. If your loved one died from a dog attack injury, the statute of limitations also allows two years to sue for wrongful death

While you may be able to resolve your case with a dog bite insurance claim, it is still important to pay attention to these deadlines. If your time runs out and you have not reached a fair settlement agreement, you will have significantly reduced bargaining power. 

Contact KJT Law Group About Your Dog Bite Attack Case

Contact KJT Law Group at (818) 507-8525 for a free consultation. An animal attack attorney with our firm can tell you more about your legal rights after a stray dog bite. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, so there is no financial risk to engaging our services. We only get paid if and when we obtain compensation for you.

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