Possible Aftermath of Dog Bites
Animal bites are a serious public health hazard that cause a great deal of physical and emotional damage to victims and many hidden costs to communities. Animal bites can cause disfigurement, infection, permanent disability and may even be life-threatening.
Statistics of Dog Bites
A study by The American Veterinary Medical Association showed that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten each year by dogs. The same study also found that 334,000 people are admitted to emergency rooms each year due to dog bite-related injuries and another 466,000 are seen in other medical settings. Almost half of the dog bite victims are children under the age of 12, while 10% of those bitten and 20% of those killed are people over the age of 70.
Costs from dog bite injuries are high. It is estimated that 1 billion dollars per year of homeowners’ liability claims result from dog bites. It is also estimated that $102.4 million dollars in hospital expenses for dog bite-related emergency visits occur each year. In addition to these costs, there are lost wages, medical insurance claims, workers’ compensation claims and sick leave-associated business costs.
CA Strict Liability Rule for Dog Bites
If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, or have been injured as a result of a dog bite in California, it is important that you know your legal rights. California follows the strict liability rule when examining dog bite cases. This means, that there is no such thing as the “one bite rule” or disputed liability. The dog owner is “strictly liable” for the injuries caused by their dog. The law does not allow for a dog owner to dispute who was at fault – the dog owner is automatically responsible to pay for your damages.
At one time, California followed the rule that a person who had been bitten by a dog could not recover monetary damages from the dog’s owner for his or her injuries unless the dog’s owner knew or should have known that his or her dog had bitten someone else and thus had a “vicious nature” or “dangerous propensity” to bite humans. This was derisively known among legal professionals as the “first-bite-free” rule, as the dog was deemed to be docile and tame toward humans and would not turn on a person and bite him or her for no reason. A dog is, after all, man’s best friend. This first-bite-free rule resulted in thousands of persons going uncompensated for their injuries, and the people of the State of California pressured their elected representatives to change the law.
As a result, California legislators enacted section 3342 of the California Civil Code. This law (a “statute”) makes the owner of any dog liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while the person is in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner, such as a meter reader.
Section 3342 allows a person to recover damages caused by a dog bite without having to show that the dog’s owner was careless (“negligent”) in any manner. It creates a system of fault without having to prove any wrongdoing, a form of liability that is known in law as “strict liability.” Section 3342 imposes a duty of care on every dog owner to prevent his or her dog from biting persons in a pubic place or lawfully in a private place so as to prevent dogs from becoming a hazard to the community.
What to Do After Being Bitten by a Dog
An animal bite victim can help protect his or her rights by taking certain steps. It is important to remember to get medical attention right away, obtain the name and address of the owner of the dog as well as the dog’s license information, find out if a report has been filed with animal control or another law enforcement agency, take the name, phone number and address of any potential witnesses, take pictures of the injuries (bruises, cuts, scrapes, stitches or scars), find out the location where the incident took place and the condition of the clothing in the area bitten. If an animal attacks, the owner is responsible for keeping the animal away from people and other pets.
We Are Here for You. Let Us Fight for You.
Due to the complexities of the law involving animal bites, it is important for animal bite victims to hire an attorney who can tackle the complex legal issues and protect the victim’s rights.
The Law Offices of Daniel Kim has the knowledge and experience you need. We have an experienced qualified staff that is ready to fight for your rights. We tell our clients- we want you to concentrate on the important things: getting healthy and returning to your day-to-day life, while our attorneys take care of the complicated legal issues and deal with the insurance company. We will work hard to protect your interests and get you the compensation you deserve.
To schedule your FREE case evaluation, fill out a case evaluation form and contact us at 1-800-515-5210.