LA dog bite lawyer
Many people consider their dogs to be important members of their families. While dogs are considered to be family members to many people, pet owners have a duty of care to prevent their dogs from attacking and biting others. Most states, including California, had dog bite laws in place that determine owner liability. Despite these laws, more than 1,000 people are bitten by dogs and require medical care in the U.S. each year. If you or your loved one has been attacked by a dog in Los Angeles, you may be left to deal with serious injuries or the loss of your loved one. Getting help from a dog bite lawyer at LA Personal Injury Attorneys might help to protect your rights to recover compensation for your losses.
The California dog bite statute
The California dog bite law is codified at CA Civ Code § 3342. Under this statute, a dog owner is liable to pay damages to a victim of a dog bite if the victim was lawfully present in a private or public place and suffered damages because of the attack.
This law contains exceptions for people who are bitten by police or military dogs that are carrying out their duties. The injuries must also have resulted from dog bites rather than other types of behavior by a dog.
For example, if a dog jumps on an elderly person who is walking in a park and knocks him or her down, causing fractures, the dog bite law will not apply. Instead, the negligence laws in California might cover this type of situation. An attorney might argue that the dog owner’s negligent failure to properly secure the dog was the direct cause of the victim’s injuries.
The statute of limitations in dog bite cases
Every state has statutes of limitations that apply to different types of cases. California’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. Since dog bites involve personal injury claims, they are subject to the two-year statute of limitations. If you fail to file your claim within the limitations period, you will be barred from recovering compensation for your losses.
Instead of waiting to talk to an attorney until the end of the limitations period, it is better to get legal help as soon after the dog bite occurred as possible. Getting help quickly can prevent important evidence from being lost and can give your Los Angeles dog bite lawyer more time to thoroughly investigate what happened and to interview any witnesses who saw the dog’s attack.
Strict liability for dog bites
States handle cases involving dog bites in different ways. Some states have what are known as one-bite rules. In these states, dog owners are not liable if they did not know that their dogs had the propensity to bite. California takes a different approach. Instead of a one-bite rule, California has a strict liability dog bite statute. Under California’s law, a pet owner cannot avoid liability for a dog bite by arguing that he or she did not know that the dog would be aggressive. You will not need to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent or that the dog had bitten others in the past. However, if your injuries resulted from other dog behaviors, including jumping on you, your claim will fall under the negligence laws instead of the state’s dog bite law.
Why you should not settle your dog bite claim without talking to an attorney
Dog bites are commonly covered by the dog owners’ homeowners’ insurance policies. When a claim is reported to the insurance company, an insurance company representative will contact the victim. In some cases, the insurance company or the dog’s owner will make an offer to the victim to settle the claim. However, it is never a good idea to accept a settlement offer without having an experienced lawyer review it.
Insurance companies commonly offer low-ball settlements to dog bite victims. They do this to make the victims believe that their claims are not worth very much. They also do this in the hope that the victims will accept the offers instead of hiring attorneys. If you accept an offer that inadequately compensates you, you will not be able to recover additional damages at a future date.
If the insurance company sends a medical release for you to sign, do not do so. These authorizations are used by companies to try to find other accidents that caused your injuries. You should likewise refuse to provide a recorded statement to the dog owner’s insurance company. If you do, anything that you say can be used against you in your claim.
Instead of signing anything or providing a recorded statement, tell the insurance company that you want to talk to an attorney. After you retain a lawyer, he or she will handle all of the negotiations with the insurance company for you.
Common defenses to dog bite liability in California
When dog bites happen on private property, dog owners might claim that they were trespassing to avoid liability for a dog bite. For liability to apply, the victims of dog bites must be lawfully present on private property or on public property to recover damages in a dog bite claim.
If you were bitten while you were trespassing on private property, you might not be able to recover damages. If you were bitten by a police or military dog while it was performing its job duties or that you provoked the dog, you might also be unable to collect damages. However, these defenses only work if the police or military dog was performing specific law enforcement or military duties when it bit you, so you might still be able to recover damages if the dog bite happened in different scenarios.
Get help from LA Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have suffered serious injuries from a dog bite in Los Angeles, you may have legal rights to recover damages to cover all of your losses. An experienced dog bite lawyer at LA Personal Injury Attorneys can evaluate your claim and explain its merits. If we agree to accept your case, we will work hard to recover all of the compensation to which you should be rightfully entitled. Contact us to schedule a free consultation so that you can learn more about the rights that you might have by calling us at 323-553-1000 today.
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