Dogs play an important role in the lives of many Fullerton families. They provide companionship, unconditional love, and protection. In some cases, though, this instinct to protect can lead to unfortunate bite injuries. Dog bites can be extremely traumatic, both in terms of physical pain and emotional distress. Dogs may play an integral role in many families–data from the American Veternary Medical Association found that there are over 48 million households that have a dog as a pet–but when one of these animals bites you or a loved one, the effects can be debilitating.
Because the physical, mental, and emotional trauma from dog bites can be so serious, the state of California has laws in place that govern who is responsible for the injuries that they can cause. Getting the support and help that’s available to you is important, but so too is having an experienced, dedicated Fullerton dog bite lawyer on your side to help you through the process.
Dedicated Representation From a Fullerton Dog Bite Lawyer
At GK Legal Group, we know how unfortunate and traumatic dog bite injuries can be. No matter what led up to your injury, we can help you navigate the complex process of getting the available support and benefits from the dog’s owner. We can explain your full range of legal options, as well as provide you and your family a roadmap for how the claim process will work. Dog bites can wreak havoc on you and your family, but with our team of experienced and dedicated Fullerton injury lawyers on your side, we can make the process a bit easier.
California Law and Dog Bites
California law has statutes in place that handle dog bites that occur in Fullerton and throughout the state. Codified in Section 3342 of the California Legal Code, dog bites in California are the sole responsibility of the dog’s owner. What this means, legally speaking, is that California is a “strict liability” state. Strict liability maintains that owner’s are liable and responsible for any injuries that their dog causes, even if the injury was unintentional.
When pursuing a dog bite case, negligence will be the primary determining factor of proving liability. Negligence has four elements in a dog bite case:
- The dog was owned or otherwise was in possession of the owner.
- The owner had a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent dog from hurting your or others.
- The owner failed to meet that duty
- The owner’s failure to meet the duty caused your injury
With negligence established, the dog’s owner will be responsible for covering any damages to you. This includes your injuries, as well as any property damage. While every dog bite claim is unique, they can extend to other types of claims dpeending on the circumstances and where the bite occurred. For example, if the dog bite occurred in one of Fullerton’s many dog parks, you could possibly have a premises liability claim to pursue as well.
Even with California’s strict liability statute, there are certain instances where your percentage of fault in the accident could reduce your overall damages. This is known as “comparative negligence”. In California, comparative negligence is applied to any injury case. In dog bite cases, if you were trespassing on the owner’s property or provoked the dog into attacking you, you may not be able to pursue your claim.
Can Dog Bites Be Prevented in Fullerton?
Unfortunately, no matter how well-mannered and tempered a dog is, they can still succumb to their instinctual nature when defending their owners or territory. This is among the most common causes of dog bites in Fullerton, especially for dog’s that are chained by their owners.
Despite this, there are steps that you can take to at least reduce the risk of being in one of these unfortunate situations:
- Learn the warning signs – The most important aspect of avoiding a dog bite is to learn the warning signs of a possible attack. These warning signs of usually include snarling, a stiff stance, or the dog’s ears being laid back and the fur on their back standing up.
- Stay calm and don’t run – Dogs naturally love to chase and catch things. Most of the time, a dog bite occurs when a person is running or jogging past a dog. When you’re out for a run and see a potentially aggressive or agitated dog, make sure to stay calm and walk past it. Usually this counteracts the dog’s natural curiosity.
- Be aware of leash laws – In California, dogs that are on a public street, park or other property must be restrained by a leash. While the dog may be more aggressive when walking on a leash with its owner, if you see a dog that is not on a leash, make sure to stay alert. Dog bites can occur when they are not on a leash and running free.
- Encourage owners to spay and neuter – The main cause of aggression in dogs occurs because of hormones. Thus, owners are encouraged to have their dog neutered at an early age. On top of health benefits, it significnatly decreases the animal’s natural aggression and energy in a healthy way.
Again, there’s no way to totally avoid or prevent a dog bite from happening. As a result, it’s important to know what to do if and when you suffer one of these injuries in Fullerton. This will provide you with a solid foundation for your potential injury claim.
What Should You Do After a Dog Bites You in Fullerton
Even with strict liability law in place, insurance companies will still try to do anything they can to devalue and at least reduce their exposure in a Fullerton dog bite claim. This includes taking issue with any inaction or error you may have made after the bite occurred. While strict liability ultimately falls on the dog’s owner and puts the law onn your side, you should still take the following steps after suffering a dog bite in Fullerton:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Take pictures or videos of the bite wound.
- Document details of the incident, such as where it occurred and whether the dog was on a leash or restrained properly.
- Follow any and all wound-cleaning orders from your doctor.
- Report the dog bite to local animal control officers.
- Identify any witnesses.
Ultimately, taking these steps after a dog bite will make sure that your claim remains on solid footing. It’s important to understand that the claim process can be long and taxing, especially when the insurance company gets invovled. One thing that can make the process much easier is working with our team of experienced Fullerton dog bite lawyers.
Damages Available in a Fullerton Dog Bite Claim
Dog bites are, unfortunately, often very serious. This is due to the nature of the bites themselves, often involving the dog’s powerful jaws clamping down and tearing at the skin and muscle. Also, dog bites frequently cause infections because of the bacteria is the dog’s saliva. On top of the physical injrueis, these traumatic events also leave emotional and psychological damage that lasts well after the original incident. All of these factor in to damages that are available in a Fullerton dog bite claim, which includes:
- Medical bills and ongoing care, like physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost income
- Any property damage related to the incident.
- Punitive damages, if the dog owner’s conduct was particularly negligent.
Even with strict liability in place, every dog bite case has its own set of circumstances. Further, any claim has no guarantee of a positive outcome. At the same time, working with the experienced and dedicate dog bite lawyers at GK Legal Group can take the burden off of you and yoru family. We can handle all of the day-to-day responsibilities of your claim, allowing you to focus on recovery.
Fullerton Dog Bite Lawyers Are On Your Side
The vast majority of dogs are loving and dependable pets that provide our families with unyielding love and companionship. That’s what makes dog bite inicidents so unforutnate and tragic. Most of the time, these animals are simply acting within their nature to protect their territory. At the same time, being a dog owner in Fullerton has a great deal of responsibility. So when a dog bite happens, California law makes it clear that the owner is responsible and should be held accountable for any injuries.
If you or a loved one have suffered a dog bite injury in Fullerton and would like to learn more about your options, contact one of our knowledgable dog bite lawyers for a free consultation.