If your pet attacked someone and caused injuries, you could face legal consequences. You should know what steps to take and how to proceed to protect both yourself and your dog. This will vary somewhat based on your location but should focus on working with local authorities to ensure you provide the necessary paperwork and records.
The victims may hire a dog bite attorney to handle their personal injury claim or lawsuit and seek compensation. You should cooperate with your insurance provider and any local authorities who contact you about the incident.
What Do I Need to Know About Liability in a Dog Bite Case?
In general, liability in a dog bite case falls on the owner. There are only a few situations when someone else might be liable. This could occur if you left your dog under the watchful eye of another person or if the victim provoked the dog before the bite. Otherwise, you will likely be financially responsible.
The first step in handling a dog bite involving your pet is reporting a dog bite. This could occur when the victim calls the police or requires an ambulance to take them to a local hospital. First responders will notify the proper agency to investigate the incident.
Regardless of who reports the bite, you should ensure you have the proper paperwork from your veterinarian showing your dog is up to date on all vaccinations and properly licensed if required in your area. You can also document the scene with photos or videos to show your dog was properly contained in your own yard (for example). You should preserve any video of the incident on security cameras or from other sources.
What Do I Need to Know About the Applicable Dog Bite Laws?
In California, all dog owners must protect others from injury caused by their pets. This is found under CIV § 3342. This law allows victims to hold the dog’s owner liable for any injuries and damages, even if the dog has no history of vicious behavior.
If the dog does have a previous history of similar attacks, the owner must take additional steps to keep visitors and others safe. Following all applicable laws—whether set by the state, county, or city—is important for preventing these incidents.
Many counties and cities have leash laws and other similar statutes that require owners to have their dogs under their control or contained at all times. For example, Los Angeles County requires both keeping a dog in your own yard or on a leash and licensing any dog over four months of age. LA County Department of Animal Care & Control enforces these laws and also investigates dog bite incidents.
If you can show you follow these laws and your dog meets all necessary vaccine requirements, this process could go smoothly for you.
The Other Party Has a Limited Time to Sue You
Under California law, dog owners are liable for their pets’ actions. Claiming a victim provoked the dog is one of the most common defenses in these cases, but it requires strong evidence.
It is also important to understand that provocation may not alleviate your liability if the dog was not contained in your yard or if the case involves child injuries. Unfortunately, children are often victims of animal attacks.
Victims might have up to two years to sue you based on their severe injuries under CCP § 335.1. This is true in both personal injury and wrongful death cases. They could have additional time if their child was harmed.
For this reason, it is imperative that you maintain a file of evidence and paperwork related to this incident for at least two years afterward. That way, if the other party decides to sue, you’re ready to combat their allegations.
Who Pays Dog Bite Victim Compensation?
Victims of dog bites often hire personal injury lawyers to seek maximum compensation for their medical bills, income losses, related expenses, and pain and suffering. This attorney will work with your homeowner’s insurance provider or another insurance company that might provide coverage for the dog bite incident.
Your insurance carrier should manage this process on your behalf and pay for the expenses and losses the victim incurred. It may ask you for evidence and information about the incident, your dog, or other details. You may choose to attend the trial or testify if a bite lawsuit becomes necessary. However, if you have coverage, and the insurance company operates in good faith, you likely won’t have to deal with litigation.
What Should I Do If I Suffered a Dog Bite Injury?
KJT Law Group represents victims of dog bites in Los Angeles, Southern California, and other nearby areas. If you were hurt in a dog bite attack incident, our team will review your case and fight for fair financial recovery. Contact us to get started. Dial (818) 507-8525.