Dog Bite Injuries Cause Unseen Injuries That Also Require Compensation
Dog bites are a particularly traumatizing kind of injury for many victims. Most of us think of dogs as friendly companions, not vicious attackers, so having a dog turn on you tends to cause psychological trauma as well as physical injuries. In cases where the dog bite causes disfiguration, the victim’s trauma is even greater, because being disfigured can affect a person’s self-image, social interactions, and career. California law is clear that dog owners are liable for any injuries their dog may cause, and must take any precautions necessary to prevent their dog from hurting anyone. Whether a dog bites someone who is lawfully on private property or on public property like a sidewalk or park, the owner is financially liable for whatever injuries that dog causes.
California is what’s known as a “strict liability” state with regard to dog attacks and injuries that result from them. That means that victims do not have to demonstrate or prove that the dog owner was negligent, or that the dog was previously known to be vicious, or anything else. It doesn’t matter whether the dog had a perfect track record and suddenly attacked with no provocation. The dog owner is liable and that’s the end of that. That makes it sound like it’s easy to get fair compensation for a dog bite injury, but, in fact, it’s a bit more complicated to get a settlement or judgment that accurately reflects all of your injuries and damages.
While there is no difficulty in determining liability in a dog bite case, there may be additional issues that could factor into your ability to receive fair compensation. It’s important to consult a personal injury attorney in dog bite cases, because that attorney will be able to help you determine whether any of these issues exist in your particular case, and whether you may be entitled to additional compensation for those issues.
Above and beyond the issue of liability is the question of negligence. Even if the dog owner had no indication that his dog was dangerous, the dog had never behaved aggressively or bitten anyone before, the owner may be held liable for negligence if he failed to take reasonable measures that would have prevented the attack. This is a really sticky subject and it’s one reason you will benefit greatly from having a personal injury attorney working on your case. Say the owner of a “good dog” routinely allows the dog to roam the neighborhood loose, and one day, the dog bites someone. That dog owner can be held liable for negligence because he allowed the dog to run loose. If the dog owner routinely keeps his yard gates closed, but one day, the gardeners don’t latch the gate properly and the dog gets out and bites someone, the owner is unlikely to be held liable for negligence.
Another kind of negligence, called scienter, can apply in dog bite cases. Scienter is a legal term that refers to knowledge of wrongdoing; in this case, it means the person who was in charge of the dog knew that dog had a history of aggression or biting. Scienter provides a way to hold additional people beside the dog owner liable for their involvement in the bite incident. When a dog bites someone, the dog’s owner is liable for those injuries. If someone who is not the owner –like a groomer, pet-sitter, dog-walker, or family member of the owner — is the one who was negligent and allowed the dog to bite someone, that person can be held liable for scienter, in addition to the owner’s liability.
Knowledge Is Power
If you’ve been injured by a dog bite, contact the Law Offices of Kevin Cortright for a free consultation on your situation. We’ll listen and help you determine what our best options are. We help our clients to get fair compensation from all parties responsible for their injuries, so our clients can get the help and treatment they need to get back to living a full and enjoyable life.