While dogs can be loyal and friendly companions, they can also be the cause of very painful injuries when they bite. The physical side of the injury is painful; bites can result in puncture wounds, nerve and muscle injuries, and even broken bones. The wound may require surgery and recovery can involve long and painful physical therapy. Severe dog bite wounds often leave disfiguring scars that require plastic surgery. Even then, scars may remain.
The pain caused by a dog bite is not just physical; the emotional and psychological trauma is undeniable. The fear can last much longer than the bite wound itself; in fact, many dog bite victims develop a lifelong fear of dogs. Therapy is often needed in these cases to help victims deal with this fear. If plastic surgery is not completely successful in dealing with the scars, further therapy may be necessary to help victims cope.
On top of this pain and difficulty, dog bite victims and their families may be left with enormous medical bills for all of the surgeries and therapies. Most insurance policies don’t cover plastic surgery as it is considered cosmetic and not necessary. There are also limits to the amount of therapy covered by many policies. Victims and their families must cover these expenses out of pocket.
California is one of the few states that have a Dog Bite Statute, in addition to the typical rules of negligence that apply in these cases. An experienced personal injury attorney, who knows the statute and the rules,is necessary to help you get the compensation you deserve.
California Civil Code Section 3342 (the Dog Bite Statute) states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while 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
This is a strict liability statute. Essentially, with the exception of a few instances, a dog owner is liable for the damages caused by his/her dog. While compensation can’t undo the physical and psychological damage done by a dog bite, it can lessen the financial burden placed on the victim. Damages that victims can claim include medical expenses, hospital bills, lost wages, physical therapy and rehabilitation, surgery expenses, permanent injuries, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
It’s no longer enough to rely on the dog owner’s homeowners/renters insurance for reimbursement. While most companies cover dog bite injuries from $100,000 to $300,000, insurers are taking steps to limit their exposure. They often require signed waivers for dog bites or charge extra for specific breeds. Some companies won’t even insure dog owners. If the dog owner is a renter with no insurance, the victim may also be able to file a claim against the property’s owner for allowing the dog on the premises.
Our attorneys are experienced handling these cases. We know the law and we can answer all of your questions. We’ll explain what you should expect from the process of bringing your claim. If you’ve been bitten and are facing the challenges of healing and expenses, contact the Law Offices of Brent W. Caldwell, Huntington Beach Dog Bite Attorney, for a free consultation.