We commonly refer to dogs as “man’s best friend,” but our relationship to these animals is often more complex. There are millions of dog bites in the US alone every year. Some of these attacks are severe enough to lead to death or serious, life-altering injuries. If you’ve suffered a dog attack, California law is usually on your side. What do you need to do to sue the dog’s owner?
1. Seek Medical Attention and Retain Your Records
Medical documentation relating to the extent of your injuries and their effects on your life is crucial to building your case later. Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries and follow medical professionals’ guidance to put your recovery first. Maintain all records, including photos of your injuries.
2. Determine if Your Incident Qualifies Under California Law
California law is quite clear on establishing liability for dog attacks, but the statute’s language specifically relates to bite injuries. If a dog injured you in another way, you might need to find additional evidence or support for your argument. If you were bitten, however, you can proceed immediately.
3. Explore Potential Negligence in Non-Bite Injuries
As mentioned, non-bite injuries are more complex in their treatment under the law. You will need to establish that the dog owner was actually negligent in their behaviors and that such negligence led directly to your injury.
4. Gather Witness Statements, if Any
Was anyone else present when you were attacked? Is there cell phone video of the incident? If there were witnesses to the attack you suffered, their testimony could be important to your case. Try to gather and retain contact info for these individuals so your lawyer can consult them later.
5. Document Any Losses Related to Your Injury
What are the consequences of your injury? Have you lost the ability to enjoy a hobby or activity that was important to your life due to damage from the dog bite? Did you accrue massive medical bills or even lose work because of the injury? Document these facts.
6. Act Within the Appropriate Timeframe
California law places dog bite injuries and attacks under the umbrella of personal injury law. As a result, there is a two-year statute of limitations to prevent individuals from pursuing litigation many years after the fact. Ideally, you should begin the legal process soon after the attack.
7. Do Not Settle with the Dog Owner’s Insurance Agent
The pet’s owner may refer you to a homeowner’s insurance company which may attempt to provide a settlement for a sum lower than you may be able to acquire otherwise. Avoid negotiations with the insurer.
8. Seek Out an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney for a Consultation
With as much information as you can gather, it is time to find a legal team with experience litigating dog bite and other personal injury cases. Ask about courtroom experience and seek out a free consultation to evaluate the facts of your situation.
9. Inform Your Legal Team You’re Ready to Go to Court
When you feel confident in your choice of law firm, and your dog bite attorney believes you have a case to press against the owner of the dog and/or their insurance company, you can decide to proceed in an effort to win a settlement that is fairer to your situation.
Investigate Your Legal Options Today
Dog attacks are traumatic and potentially life-altering events. If you or a loved one have suffered from an attack by an aggressive animal, HHJ Trial Attorneys may be able to help. Contact us today to take the first steps.
Testimonial from Enrique, a Dog Bite Victim
In April of this year I was attacked by a pit bull while walking my dog. The dog bit my hand and I had to go to the emergency hospital. My dog also had to go to the vet. After the hospital charges we went to the owners of the dog to take responsibility for the expenses, but they denied the payment. Then we went with Elliot who did us the favor of representing us. Your service was excellent. He was responsible for investigating whether dog owners were insured to cover our expenses. Although it is not the most serious case for Elliot, he understood that it was important for us to recover what we had spent. Elliot treated us with respect and gave us the attention of a professional and experienced dog bite lawyer.