Do you know that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the US every year? Do you know that approximately 800 000 of these bites result in medical care?
Dog bites are far more common than believed.
So, if you or your loved ones are bitten by a dog, when should you consider taking legal action, and what are some essential things to know? Should you appoint a lawyer?
How Serious Can A Dog Bite Be?
Dog bites can range from being almost invisible to direct causes of death.
They have been classified as follows, ranging from mild to deadly:
- Level 1 – Aggressive behaviour by the dog but no contact between teeth and skin
- Level 2 – Teeth and skin made contact, but no puncture wound
- Level 3 – One to four punctures with a single bite with no puncture longer than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth
- Level 4 – One to four punctures with a single bite with a puncture longer than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth
- Level 5 – A multiple bite incident with a minimum of two level 4 bites
- Level 6 – Fatal bite which killed the victim
A proficient attorney will bear the above in mind when evaluating bite dog levels.
Even mild dog bites can result in severe consequences and attendant medical costs, discomfort and suffering.
Dog saliva is packed full of bacteria, and when this gets into your skin via a bit can cause severe infection and complications.
Whenever there are medical costs related to the dog bite, you should consider suing the owner of the dog.
How Do Dog Bite Laws Work In California?
California has “strict liability” dog bite laws.
Pet owners are by and large deemed responsible for most dog-bite injuries.
An owner cannot raise the defense that they never knew that the dog would bite anyone as it had never done so before.
However, the owner will only be strictly liable if 2 conditions are met:
- The injured person must have been bitten
- The injured person must have been in a public place or lawfully have been in a private place.
One notable exception is an injured person bitten by a police or military dog doing military work or defending someone.
Another exception is where a vet or vet’s assistant is bitten whilst treating your dog.
In California, there is legislation that finds a case against any dog owner whose dog has bitten somebody twice in separate incidents. Similarly, one can sue the owner of a trained attack dog responsible for severely injuring someone in a prior incident.
If the dog owner knew that it was often mischievous and did not keep the dog under control, then there may be criminal and civil liability should the dog bite somebody.
Should You Appoint a Lawyer in a Dog-Bite Case?
If you consider suing after a dog bite, you would be well advised to consult with an experienced local attorney specialising in dog bite cases. This is because the laws differ significantly in different states and local attorneys are familiar with the laws in their state.
Your attorney will probably assess the case based on the facts you present, and if they think you have a strong case, they will offer to work on a contingency basis which means that you will only be liable for legal fees if the lawyer wins your case for you.
Interesting Related Article: “Have You Suffered a Dog Bite Injury? Know What Compensation You Can Get“