Animals provide countless benefits to humans including companionship. But these domesticated animals can still lose control and bite or attack people. A vast majority of animal attacks in the US and California are inflicted by dog bites. The California Department of Public Health estimates there are over 5 million dog bites a year in the US. Children are more than twice as likely as adults to be the victim of a dog bite.
Animal attacks can be frightening and can result in serious physical and emotional injuries, including severe cuts, abrasions, puncture wounds, infection, lost eyes, permanent disfigurement, scarring and psychological trauma.
The San Francisco dog bite attorneys of the Dolan Law Firm regularly represent plaintiffs injured in animal attacks and dog bites, including pit bull attacks, in San Francisco and other communities throughout the California Bay Area, including Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, Alameda, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara.
Have You Been Seriously Injured From a Dog Bite?
Our law firm has the experience and the resources to establish pet owner liability and to bring full and fair jury verdicts and insurance settlements to compensate for immediate and future medical care, plastic surgery, lost wages, lost earning potential, and other damages victims of animal attacks suffer.
Who is Responsible for a Dog Bite?
Under California law, dog and other animal owners are generally strictly liable for the injuries caused by their animal. Strict Liability means that a dog owner is liable for injuries and damages caused by their dog. The law covers anyone bitten by a dog in a public place or while lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property. It does not matter whether the dog has any history of vicious behavior. If the dog bites someone, the owner is liable.
Under some circumstances, in addition to the owner of the dog, the owner of the property where the dog resides may also be responsible for your injuries, if different from the dog’s owner. If you were attacked on the owner’s property or if you know or believe that a dog escaped from an enclosed yard, for example, keep track of the property’s address.
There are some circumstances when an animal injures another party and the owners are not Strictly Liable. These cases generally involve animal attacks where there was no actual “bite.” For example, a dog may cause a collision or may chase a person riding a bike and cause them to crash. Many situations can occur where an owner has the responsibility to control their animal and they fail to do so. Under a general theory of negligence an owner or other person in control of an animal can be liable for the injuries caused by their animal.
In all our personal injury cases, including those involving San Francisco area dog bites, our lawyers are committed to thorough investigation and personal attention to every case and to systematic case preparation designed for effective presentation to a jury.
Can I Get Compensation for Being Bitten by a Dog?
If you have been bitten by a dog you are likely entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages. In a civil lawsuit you can recover both economic and non-economic damages. In order to get compensation for your losses, you must demonstrate that dog bite or other animal attack caused your injuries and other damages.
Economic damages include the expenses related to any injuries caused by the animal attack. This includes:
- Medical Expenses (past and future)
- Lost Wages
- Wound Care
- Lost Earning Potential
- Physical Therapy
Non-economic damages can also include:
- Psychological Distress / Trauma
- Mental Anguish
- Pain and Suffering
Obtaining compensation through the legal system can be a complicated task. Generally, the first step is to negotiate with the owner’s insurance company to try and reach a fair settlement. Insurance companies regularly offer low-ball amounts to try and settle a case below the true value. When insurance companies are not willing to pay what a victim deserves then the victim can bring a lawsuit and seek compensation through the civil court system. If you have been injured by an animal attack you do not have to navigate the legal system alone. Contact an experienced dog bite attorney to find out what sort of compensation you are owed and how to obtain it.
What Information Should I Tell My Dog Bite Attorney?
It is a good idea to keep track of certain information regarding the dog attack. Your attorney will be able to prepare a strong animal attack case if you keep track of information such as:
- Date and time when the attack happened;
- Location where the attack happened;
- Anything you know about the dog’s owner, including name, phone number, address, employer, etc.;
- If the owner is not present, any information about the person responsible for the dog, such as a dog walker;
- The dog’s breed, if can determine this at all, especially if it was a pit bull, German Shepherd, or Rottweiler;
- A description of the attack, including whether the bite punctured the skin;
- Keep track of the costs related to the dog attack, including any copays for medical treatment;
- Keep track of anything you remember about the period of time before and after the attack. Did the dog’s owner talk to you at any time? Were there any witnesses?
How Should I Treat a Dog Bite?
Whether the family pet or a stray, when a dog bites (or other animal, such as a cat), it can cause a serious infection, in addition to bleeding and scarring. Infection may result from bacteria off the animal’s fangs left behind in the wound.
As per the Mayo Clinic, the following types of bites should be treated in a hospital or clinic as soon as possible:
- Deep puncture wounds
- Torn skin
- Significant bleeding
- Swelling and redness
- Oozing in the wound
For relatively minor scrapes and cuts, old-fashioned soap and water may suffice, along with antibiotic cream and a bandage – though even minor bites carry a risk of infection.
If you are bitten by an animal, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Any animal bites should be seen by a doctor.
What Can a Dog Bite Law Firm Do for Me?
Dealing with the damages from a dog bite can be an additional challenge, one that you may not have the time nor resources available to immediately handle. Working with an experience animal attack law firm can ease some of the burdens of the aftermath, allowing you to focus on recovery.
An experienced dog bite lawyer may assist you in the following ways:
- Identify liable parties;
- Establish liability for injuries;
- File a lawsuit in compliance with the Statute of Limitations;
- Investigate and gather evidence;
- Establish damages by reviewing medical records and other evidence;
- Negotiate with insurance companies; and
- Act as a guide through the complex legal systems.
Dog bite law firms such as the Dolan Law Firm work on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay unless you obtain compensation from a settlement or jury/court verdict. Contact an attorney to learn of your options and see if you have a case for your animal attack injuries.
What Should I Do Following an Animal Attack?
It can be challenging to handle the aftermath of an animal attack. There are a number of steps you can take immediately following an animal attack to help you move forward from the situation. Depending on the circumstances you should look to do the following:
- Contact the Police: It is important to have documentation of the events and one of the best ways is to contact the police immediately so they can show up to the scene and take a report. The police can identify witnesses, the animal’s owner, and potentially other liable parties. You should tell the police what happened and be sure not to downplay any of your injuries or the events that led to those injuries.
- Obtain the Police Report: After speaking with the police be sure to ask them for a copy of the report; the report number; and ask for the contact information of any officer and any witnesses questioned about the attack.
- Get the Owner’s Information: In any animal attack case one of the most important pieces of information is who the owner is. If the owner is present when the attack occurs then ask the police to get their contact information, or ask the owner for their contact information yourself. Sometimes the animal attack occurs without the owner being nearby, in these circumstances try and gather any information you can about the animal and where it came from. Determining who the owner is will be a big step in obtaining compensation for your injuries.
- Ask if the Animal is Vaccinated: Unvaccinated animal wounds can result in serious infection and even life-threatening damage if not treated immediately. If you have been bitten you should check in with the owner about the status of the animal’s vaccinations. If the owner does not share that information with you then you should tell the police and animal control, they can assist you in determining the status of the animal’s vaccinations.
- Seek Medical Treatment Immediately: Dog bites and other animal attack injuries can cause significant damage. Often times the threat of infection from fangs and bite wounds can be unseen but potentially life threatening. If you have been bitten by an animal you should seek professional medical treatment to learn of the extent of your injuries and get documentation of those injuries. This documentation will be vital in securing compensation for the resulting damage.
- Contact Animal Control or a Local Animal Agency: Local animal agencies can help you to build documentation following an animal attack. These agencies may be able to help track down the owner depending on the documentation they have of the animal involved. They may also tell you if the animal has been involved in other attacks, and will start a paper trail documenting your attack.
- Contact an Animal Attack Lawyer or Dog Bite Lawyer: Following an attack or dog bite you have the right to seek out legal help to obtain compensation. An experience attorney will help you determine what legal options you have and can assist you in obtaining compensation for your injuries.
Tips On Avoiding Dog Bites
While not all dog bites can be prevented, you may be able to prevent some by following a few rules about choosing the pets you purchase or interact with.
- Do not approach stranger’s dogs without permission, you never know what level of aggression the dog has. If you want to interact with the dog you should approach cautiously and with permission.
- Do not lunge or reach at a dog. You should slowly present the back of your hand first and allow the dog to smell you. If you receive negative feedback from the dog then step away without making sudden movements.
- Do not run at a dog or otherwise attempt to agitate it by barking, yelling, or growling at it.
- If a dog becomes aggressive, stay calm, move slowly, and do not make eye contact.
- Poor temperament? Some dogs are known to have poor temperaments or have been known to bite in the past. If you know the dog’s history and its above-average level of aggression, it may be best to avoid interacting with the dog.
- Young child? Adults tend to interact with dog much differently than young children. Kids are more likely to jump excitedly, among other things, which can rile up any dog, even those that generally aren’t aggressive. For this reason, you should avoid leaving young children alone with dogs.
If you do suffer a dog bite, you may likely need medical care. Left untreated, the wound may develop an infection. A serious infection may even put your life (or that of your child’s) at risk.
Contact Our Dog Bite Attorneys
Our work is contingency-based, and we collect no fee unless our client collects damages. If you or a loved one has been injured or disfigured because of an animal attack, pit bull attack or other dog bite, we encourage you to contact attorney Chris Dolan and his colleagues online or call 415-636-8160 today for skilled and knowledgeable legal counsel.