Dogs bites result in thousands of visits to hospital emergency departments every year, and many more bites go untreated. Dog bites are a significant source of accidental injury, especially for children.
If you or a family member has had an encounter with a dog that resulted in injuries, a Rialto dog bite lawyer could help. By pursuing a claim against the dog’s owner, an injured person could receive compensation for their injuries.
California Civil Code §3342 makes dog owners strictly liable for dog bite injuries their animals inflict, with very limited exceptions. This means that the owner is liable even if they did not behave negligently, and the owner is responsible for compensating an injured person even if they had no reason to suspect the dog would bite.
As long as the injured person was not trespassing when the attack happened, the owner is responsible to pay their damages. Under the law, strict liability applies to attacks that occur on public property like sidewalks, beaches or parks, or on private property including the dog owner’s property. If the injured person (plaintiff) had permission to be on the property, liability rests with the dog’s owner (defendant).
However, if the plaintiff was provoking the dog, they might not collect their full damages from the dog’s owner. California follows a policy of comparative negligence, which holds each party to a dispute responsible for the consequences of their actions. If a jury finds that the plaintiff was partially responsible for the dog attack, a plaintiff’s damages will be reduced to reflect their degree of fault. Depending on the evidence available, a plaintiff’s attorney could argue that a jury finds the plaintiff had little or no responsibility for the dog’s behavior.
In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff must show that someone else was negligent. The strict liability statute relieves them of that burden in dog bite cases.
However, a plaintiff’s attorney still must prove certain elements to support their claim for damages.
The plaintiff must show that the defendant owned the dog at the time of the attack. The plaintiff must prove where the attack occurred and demonstrate that it was either public property or, if on private property, that the plaintiff had permission to be there. Trespassers have no right to claim damages for dog bite injuries. Finally, the plaintiff must offer evidence that they suffered an injury due to the dog bite.
Sometimes people prefer to handle negotiations for damages themselves, especially if they know the dog and its owner. They may want to try to settle the matter in a non-confrontational way.
Approaching the situation this way could be a serious mistake. If negotiations fail, the relationship between the parties is likely soured, and the plaintiff may have little time left to bring a lawsuit. California allows injured people two years to bring a lawsuit seeking damages. Once the statute of limitations has run, courts will not hear a claim, no matter how valid.
Engaging a professional advocate to handle settlement negotiations is a savvy move. Personal feelings do not enter into the process, and the only goal is obtaining a fair and reasonable settlement.
Call on an experienced Rialto dog bite lawyer to handle your case. Schedule a consultation as soon as possible after your encounter with the animal. Delay only hurts you, so call today.
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