Dog Bite Lawyer in San Diego
Frightening Dog Bite Statistics
Dogs can make wonderful companion animals and guardians, but they also have the potential to cause serious injuries. Dog victims can be any age, although they are most often children. It’s also important to understand that any dog breed can bite and inflict serious injuries.
- There are an estimated 4.5 million dog bite victims in the US every year, or 1.5% of the total population
- 2,000 people visit emergency rooms every day for dog bites
- 750,000 dog bite victims need medical attention every year
- There are more than 28,000 reconstructive surgical procedures performed per year due to dog bites
- About 16,000 dog bites per year are work-related. Almost 6,000 were letter carriers.
- Dog bites are the 5th most common cause of ER visits for children
- Dog bite victims suffer about $1 billion in monetary losses per year, although this figure is believed to be very low
- The average cost for an inpatient stay due to a dog bite is more than $18,000
- Dog bite and dog-related injury claims account for over one-third of homeowners insurance liability claims
- More than 50% of dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property
- Most dogs belong to the victim’s friend or family member
- Pit bulls account for about one-third of dog bites in California followed by German Shepherds and Chihuahuas
- Pit bulls and Rottweilers account for 77% of all dog-related deaths
- California leads the nation in fatal dog attacks
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can be very serious and result in far more than just puncture wounds. Among people hospitalized for dog bites, about 43% needed treatment for tissue and skin infection; 22% suffered arm or leg wounds; 10% suffered wounds to the torso, head, and neck; and the rest had issues like fractures and blood poisoning. Dog bites can lead to permanent scars and disfigurement, including facial disfigurement, and serious bites may require reconstructive surgery as well as the painful recovery and risk that accompanies any surgical procedure.
Liability for Dog Bites in San Diego
California does not have what is known as a “one-bite” rule; it is a strict liability state. This means dog owners are held liable for any damages their dogs cause as long as the person who was bitten was lawfully in a private place or in a public space. Under California law, there is no need to prove a dog owner had reason to know their dog could have bitten someone for them to be held liable.
Dog owners have no defense against a dog bite claim if they had no knowledge the dog would behave aggressively, nor can they make a defense that they took reasonable care to keep the dog from hurting anyone except in cases that do not involve a bite but other damages caused by a dog.
Dog owners can also be held criminally liable for dog bites in California. As an injured victim, you have the right to bring a civil personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner whether or not criminal charges are filed. There are unique criminal laws that apply to dogs considered dangerous or vicious. Dog owners who allow a dog classified as dangerous or vicious to roam or fail to exercise reasonable care to restrain the animal can be charged with a felony if the animal kills someone or with a misdemeanor or felony if the dog causes injury.
The only defense a dog owner has against a claim is trespassing as the California dog bite statute requires that the injured person was in a public place or lawfully on private property when bitten. This defense will not apply if the injured person was carrying out their legal duty like delivering letters.
There are also special rules when the victim is a child under five, a vulnerable age group often the victim of dog bites. What would be considered negligence by an adult is typically not considered negligence when committed by a child under five who are considered legally incapable of negligent acts like failing to show reasonable care.
Dealing With an Insurance Company
As a dog bite victim, you will likely be dealing with the dog owner’s homeowners insurance when making an injury claim. It’s important to avoid making any statements to the insurance company until you seek legal representation as the insurance adjuster can use your comments against you in an attempt to limit or reduce your settlement.
It’s also important to note that some dog breeds are excluded from liability coverage by some insurance providers. Common blacklisted dog breeds include pit bulls and mixes, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, Chow Chows, and German Shepherds. If the dog owner’s insurance company blacklists the dog that bit you, there may still be coverage to pay for your damages if the dog owner purchased a separate liability policy. You also have the right to sue the dog owner directly for your injuries.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer in San Diego
Dog bites are all too common in San Diego and often lead to serious and even life-changing injuries. If you or your child has been bitten by someone else’s dog, it’s important to protect your legal rights. An experienced dog bite injury lawyer in San Diego can help you hold the dog owner responsible and seek maximum compensation for your injuries, including current and future medical expenses, lost wages, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.
Call The Law Office of Stephen Mitchell at 619-802-0190 today to schedule your free consultation with a San Diego dog bite lawyer to review your case and explore your legal options.