Dogs bite about 4.5 million people every year in the United States, and it’s estimated that half of the victims are children between the ages of 5 and 9. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, it’s important to understand your legal rights so you know who to hold liable for your injuries.
California’s Dog Bite Statute
Each state has its own laws related to dog bites. California is a strict liability state, which means the dog owner will be held liable when his dog bites another person as long as:
- The injuries were caused by a dog bite
- The person was bitten in a public place or the person was lawfully on a private property at the time of the attack
This means the dog owner cannot be held liable if a dog bites someone who is trespassing on private property. The dog owner may also not be held liable if the victim provoked the dog prior to the bite. For example, if a dog owner asks someone not to approach his dog because the dog seems agitated, but the person does so anyways and is bitten, the owner may not be liable.
In California, the owner cannot defend himself by saying that he did not know the dog was aggressive or that the dog did not have a history of biting people. Because this is a strict liability state, the dog owner can still be liable even if the dog does not have a history of aggressive behavior.
Dog Bite Injuries
Puncture wounds are common dog bite injuries, which may be accompanied by bruising, bleeding, and soreness. Shallow puncture wounds should be immediately treated with anti-bacterial cream and bandages to prevent the growth of bacteria. However, larger dogs may leave deep puncture wounds on the victim that require further treatment. Deep wounds may tear through ligament or muscle and stitches may be needed.
If dog bite wounds are not properly treated, the victim may suffer from complications, including serious bacterial infections or tissue death. In extreme cases, dog bite victims may need to have a limb amputated because of these complications. Some complications, such as MRSA infections, may be fatal if left untreated.
Victims—especially children—may also suffer emotionally after a dog bite. This is especially common in children who already feared dogs prior to being bitten, although it can happen to any child or adult who has been attacked by a dog. Children can begin to isolate themselves or experience depression or anxiety following a dog bite. If they are left with scarring from the bite, they may suffer from self-esteem issues. Many children have even displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a dog bite.
Legal Help For Dog Bite Victims
Dog bites can be traumatizing for people of all ages, and the physical and emotional injuries may affect you for years to come. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, contact Carpenter, Zuckerman, and Rowley today to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. With our help, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.