Dog Bite Lawyers in Encino, CA — Helping Our Clients Pursue Justice Following Animal Attacks
Dogs have long been known as “man’s best friend.” Unfortunately, we’ve all become acquainted with stories of ferocious pet attacks over the years. If you or a loved one have suffered a dog bite, you probably have many unanswered questions. Is the owner responsible if it’s the first time their pet harmed someone? Could you receive compensation for emotional trauma? Will it be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit? A dog bite lawyer in Encino, CA, can help answer these and many other questions.
At V&A Law Firm, we’ve seen what can happen when a dangerous dog attacks a human. Even bites that don’t result in permanent damage can disrupt a person’s life. Even worse, such incidents can lead to years of emotional trauma. Over 40% of Californians own a dog, and in most cases, these pets do nothing but bring joy. However, it’s important to seek justice when a dangerous animal acts out. An Encino, CA, dog bite attorney can help in this endeavor. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.
Does California Have a “One-Bite Rule”?
After being attacked by a dog, you’re likely to hear various legal terms tossed around. One of the most common issues seen in any dog bite claim is the “one bite rule.” This legal doctrine states that pet owner liability only exists if the owner had reason to suspect their animal was dangerous. This would be based on previous attacks or aggressive behavior. Fortunately, California does not practice this doctrine. After someone sustains a dog bite injury, the animal’s owner has strict liability.
This means that the owner is responsible for the animal’s actions — even on the first bite. However, this doesn’t mean that compensation is automatic. You’ll typically have to show the losses you’ve suffered. These can be financial (e.g., lost wages, costs for medical attention) or non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering). The dog owner’s insurance company typically offers a settlement, but there’s no guarantee this will be fair. In such cases, a lawsuit may be necessary.
Every case is different, so speaking with a dog bite attorney in Encino, CA, today is important to better understand your rights and options.
When Are Dog Owners Responsible for an Injury Claim?
While California is a strict liability state for dog bites, it doesn’t mean that the owner will always be responsible for injuries. That’s because there are a few possible defenses to legal claims against owners. If the at-fault party claims that they’re not responsible for the attack, it’s possible that the victim may not receive compensation. This is true even if all proper steps are followed — from calling animal control to documenting medical expenses. The following defenses could derail everything:
- The victim was trespassing
- The victim provoked the animal
- The victim was wholly or partially at fault
The important thing to remember is that no one wants to be responsible for a settlement or monetary award in a dog-bite lawsuit. As such, defendants may claim these defenses even when they’re untrue. If these elements of a case do not exist, a pet owner is responsible for any bite when a victim is in public areas, on private property with permission of the property owner, or on private property to perform specific duties (e.g., serving summons, delivering mail).
Clearly, these cases can get complex. That’s why you should speak with a dog bite lawyer in Encino, CA, today.
What if Injuries Occur Without a Dog Bite?
What if you were injured by a dog, but it’s not a dog bite case? Perhaps you fell off a bike because someone’s pet chased you or the animal jumped up and knocked you over. The dog owner could still be held responsible in these situations and similar scenarios. However, the case would not involve strict liability. Instead, the victim would have to establish that the owner of the dog acted negligently.
This can be done in a variety of ways. For instance, the owner may have let their pet run unleashed. Then again, maybe a police dog knocked over a child while pursuing a suspect. Whatever the underlying facts of a case, a personal injury lawyer can assist in establishing liability and seeking compensation. At V&A Law Firm, our legal team is ready to assist regardless of the circumstances of your claim. Get started with a free consultation today.
What Compensation Are Dog Attack Victims Entitled To?
When someone is harmed by a canine, the compensation they receive will depend entirely upon the facts of their case. If the injury was minor and resulted in no lasting issues, litigation will likely be unnecessary as the insurer covers medical bills. However, cases are not always this straightforward. A puncture wound can lead to serious injuries — or an infection — that requires extensive medical treatment. Then again, maybe you were just forced to take an extended absence away from work while you healed.
Regardless of the circumstances, you may be able to recover the following:
- Economic damages: These are actual monetary losses. The cost of surgery, medications, lost wages, property damages, and other financial damages fall into this category.
- Non-economic damages: These are non-monetary losses. Emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other losses fall into this category.
- Punitive damages: If a negligent party engages in egregious behavior, the courts may decide they should pay additional compensation as punishment.
Whether these forms of compensation are available will depend on your case. For instance, punitive damages are only possible if you sue. After all, you can’t expect the insurance company to pay more than they have to. However, it’s worth noting that punitive damages are rare anyway. For instance, imagine that a landlord ignores repeated requests from his tenants to enforce a no-pet policy against a tenant’s dog who has a vicious propensity. The courts may see this behavior as particularly heinous in such a situation.
This is only one example of when punitive awards may be possible. There’s no way to fully predict what damages you may be entitled to, so it’s important to speak with an Encino dog bite attorney right away.
Contact Our Dog Bite Lawyers in Encino, CA Today
You and your loved ones have a legal right to live your life without fear of harm. Unfortunately, the negligence of reckless pet owners can sometimes interfere with this. When this happens, you may have a valid legal claim for financial recovery. Unlike other states, California law takes an approach that values the rights of personal injury victims. There’s no need to delve into a dog’s history to determine if you’re entitled to compensation. However, having an attorney on your side can simplify a potentially complex process.
At V&A Law Firm, our team of experienced legal professionals understands what you’re going through. The monetary loss of medical treatment and lost wages is bad enough. However, situations become even more disheartening when you add lengthy recovery, disruption to your life, and emotional distress to the equation. We can’t change what happened to you, but our dog bites lawyers in Encino, CA, may be able to help you secure justice. Contact us today by calling 818-369-3270 to schedule your free consultation.