Do I Need an Attorney if a Dog Bites Me?
Animal attacks are frightening, and like other types of personal injury cases, have the potential to cause serious injuries, both physically and emotionally. The San Francisco dog bite lawyers at Golden State Accident Lawyers possess the experience and resources to prove dog owner liability.
We represent clients throughout the NorCal area, including San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, Santa Cruz, and more.
If you are the victim of a dog attack, our dog bite attorneys will work to get you compensated for medical treatment, corrective plastic surgery, and other damages. To learn more, schedule a free consultation.
Free Consultation for the Dog Bite Incident
Our goal is to help animal attack victims recover from their injuries and get them the compensation they are entitled to.
This is why our law firm works on a contingency fee arrangement, so clients never have to worry about paying for upfront legal fees. Additionally, we offer a free consultation to all prospective clients. The case assessment is 100% free and confidential.
Why Hire Golden State Accident Lawyers to Handle Your Dog Bite Case?
The right dog bite lawyer helps victims of animal bites recover compensation for medical expenses to treat cuts, abrasions, disfigurement, scarring, trauma, and other serious injuries the incident caused.
Golden State Accident Lawyers has recovered millions in compensation for our clients, fighting to protect their best interests. Our dedication and hard work have resulted in a 99% success rate, and we have been recognized for our achievements by The National Trial Lawyers.
When working with our law firm, the stress and work of dealing with dog bite cases become our responsibility, which allows clients to focus on their recovery–the top priority.
Do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. Our complimentary case evaluation will provide you with everything you need to know about your case.
Where Dog Bite Attacks Can Occur and Why This Matters
These types of accidents can occur and any time, including on private property, at dog parks, or in neighborhoods. Depending on where the dog bite occurred, liability and available compensation may vary, which is why it’s strongly recommended to consult a dog bite accident attorney.
Popular public dog areas in San Francisco include Fort Funston, Duboce Park, Pine Lake Park, Golden Gate Park, Crissy Field, Fort Mason, and Francisco Park. Because these parks have an off-the-leash policy, it is not uncommon for incidents to take place.
Common Causes of Dog Bites
Nearly 1,000 people in the US are treated daily for injuries caused by dog bites, with more than 12,400 hospitalized for their injuries.
Dog bites can occur due to a number of reasons, but typically, attacks are most commonly associated with a reaction to something. This can include being in a stressful situation and making the dog feel threatened or scared.
While dog owners are typically liable when their dogs bite another person, there are exceptions depending on where the accident took place and why it happened.
How Can San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyers Help?
Part of the advantages of legal representation is the multitude of options that become readily available. Experienced dog bite lawyers identify all sources of recovery by reviewing insurance policies and negotiating for a full and fair settlement. The steps leading up to the recovery process include the following.
1. Investigate the Case
Our legal team will conduct a personal investigation, collecting important documents and evidence that establishes the pet owner’s liability in the incident, such as police reports and witness statements.
Additionally, we will prove the severity of injuries by reviewing medical records and working with medical professionals to confirm damages.
2. File a Personal Injury Claim with the Insurance Company
Insurance companies often contact victims directly in an attempt to persuade them to accept a lesser settlement than what is actually deserved, a tactic that cannot be applied with an experienced personal injury attorney.
We will handle all communication with the dog owner’s insurance company, beginning with submitting the demand letter and addressing all of the damages that must be compensated.
If the insurance company denies the claim or counters, we will prepare a persuasive presentation that supports the amount of just compensation that is owed and aggressively negotiate for the highest offer.
3. Maximize the Settlement + File a Lawsuit if Necessary
We leverage our experience to negotiate a full and fair settlement. If the insurance company refuses to be fair in negotiations, then we file a dog bite lawsuit.
When the case goes to trial, a jury decides the awarded amount, which could be more than what the insurance company was anticipating to pay. To avoid this, the other party may end up settling instead of taking a chance in court.
4. Litigate the Dog Bite Case
We guide clients through the entire case process, including the preparation period before the court proceedings. Before presenting the case in a trial, we will obtain substantial evidence and create a persuasive presentation to present to the courts.
Golden State Accident Lawyers has built a reputation for success, but if the case outcome is less than ideal, our contingency fee arrangement guarantees that clients will not be responsible for any legal fees.
COLLECT COMPENSATION FOR YOUR DOG BITE INJURIES
What to Do After a Dog Bite Attack in San Francisco
To protect well-being and legal rights, urgency is vital. Here are some actionable steps that will help dog bite victims navigate the aftermath of the incident.
- Find the pet’s owner and collect his or her contact information. Animal attacks can occur without the dog owner being nearby or even present, like if a dog escapes through an open gate. Before leaving the accident scene, gather as much information about the animal and its owner as possible.
- While at the accident scene, report the dog bite to animal control so that the event is documented. Obtain a copy of the report.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if the bite appears minor. Some pets may not be vaccinated and the injury could become infected.
- Contact a San Francisco dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. Victims of animal attacks have the legal right to a monetary award, to compensate for medical expenses and other damages. Legal representation will be pivotal in navigating the legal system and in obtaining the compensation they deserve.
California Dog Bites and the "Strict Liability" Law
Dog owners in California are strictly liable for dog bites, regardless if the dog has not bitten someone prior.
Under California law, the general rule regarding negligence is that the dog’s owner is responsible for any damages caused by the animal attack.
However, exceptions apply under certain circumstances, like if someone is trespassing on someone else’s property. Or, a property owner could face liability charges if he or she failed to maintain the structure of a fence that was supposed to contain the dog.
Additionally, it is recommended to avoid the following actions around unfamiliar dogs to prevent a bite.
- Always ask the dog’s owner for permission before approaching his or her dog
- Approach the dog slowly and do not lunge at it
- Allow the dog to sniff your hand before petting it
- Pet the dog on the side, neck, chest, or back, avoiding the head
- Do not hug the dog
- If the dog shows any signs of aggression, such as growling, barking, or snarling, slowly back away
- Do not run at the dog or try to agitate it in any way
- Avoid leaving children alone with dogs, even if the dog is known to be friendly
Common Injuries in Dog Bite Cases
Dog bite injuries can cause minor injuries or serious injuries, based on the size of the animal and if it is vaccinated. Regardless, it is always recommended to seek medical treatment immediately to prevent infection and other health risks.
Common injuries include deep puncture wounds, eye injuries, scarring, broken bones, and emotional injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How Severe Does a Dog Bite Have to Be to Have a Case?
Because of California’s strict liability dog bite laws, pet owners are responsible for damages caused by their pets, regardless of apparent severity.
In other words, when someone is bitten by a dog, the dog owner must compensate the victim. The amount of recoverable compensation depends on the severity of injuries and other losses.
How Much Are Dog Bite Cases Worth?
All personal injury cases are unique and will have different outcomes, including case value. While there is not an exact amount of compensation that dog bite victims typically receive, it has been reported that insurance companies paid out more than $1 billion in dog-related injury claims in 2022.
This means that dog bite victims are being awarded sizeable settlements. Additionally, it is estimated that a third of the claims filed originated from five states; California was at the top with more than 1,900 claims filed.
Types of Damages for Dog Bite Injuries
Essentially, any losses that occurred as a result of the animal attack must be compensated. This includes a variety of economic damages and non-economic damages.
This accounts for all out-of-pocket expenses incurred to treat the dog bit injury, including the initial doctor visit or emergency room visit, as well as surgeries and follow-up treatment.
Any anticipated medical treatment is also covered under a successful personal injury claim. This may include physical therapy, medication, or anything else related to the victim’s recovery.
Lost Wages and Lost Earning Potential
Injured victims are forced to miss time from work while recovering, resulting in loss of income. In some cases, the dog injured the victim so severely that he or she cannot return to work. In both scenarios, they are entitled to compensation to account for the loss of wages.
Pain and Suffering
Injuries do not only take a physical form, but they are also present in a psychological sense, as well. The traumatic event can cause the victim to suffer from stress, depression, and other forms of mental anguish–which may also be compensated.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite Injury in California?
The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim in California is two years; this includes dog bite injury claims. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the statute can be extended, but it can be reduced, as well.
Legal action cannot be taken if the filing period is missed. Therefore, contact a dog bite lawyer as close to the incident date as possible. Dog bite law firms will confirm filing deadlines and other important dates so that no opportunities are missed.
How Do You Prove a Dog Owner Was Negligent?
First, it’s important to follow the guidelines of what to do after an accident: notify the pet owner, report the accident to animal control, seek medical attention, and then contact a San Francisco dog bite attorney.
Medical records indicate the severity of the injury and the billing statements state how much the medical treatment costs, proving damages.
Another component is proving the dog owner’s negligence. This can be exhibited by indicating that the dog’s owner had a duty of care, failed to honor that duty of care, the failure caused the dog bite, and the dog bite resulted in damages.
Proving negligence and obtaining a fair and full settlement is difficult, even when fault is apparent. Working with an experienced San Francisco dog bite lawyer can assist in the areas and help victims win their cases.
How Long Does a Dog Bite Case Take to Settle?
There is no definitive answer to how long cases involving dog bites will take to settle. However, some general estimates can be given based on previous cases.
Generally, cases involving animal bites can take anywhere from a few months to several years to settle. This depends on whether a serious injury was sustained and the recovery period.
Other factors include apparent liability, available evidence, and how cooperative the involved parties are to settle out of court. Otherwise, a lengthy litigation process may be imminent.
The best way to estimate the duration of a case is to consult with an experienced dog bite lawyer who can evaluate the case and advise the next steps.
Contact an Experienced San Francisco Dog Bite Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you or a loved one has been injured or afflicted by a dog bite, contact Golden State Accident Lawyers for a free consultation. We work on a contingency basis, so you pay nothing unless we win your case.
Our San Francisco personal injury law firm will help you understand your legal rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Golden State Accident Lawyers
550 Bryant St. Suite 2K
San Francisco, CA 94107