Dogs may be considered man’s best friend in most circles, but that old adage doesn’t ring true. In 2017, there were 974 dog bites in Fresno. If you are one of the victims of a dog attack, you could have serious injuries. Those injuries can have a profound impact on your finances, career, and more.
Fortunately, a Fresno dog bite lawyer may be able to help you. A victim of a dog bite can seek compensation if someone else failed to control their dog. According to California state law, all it takes is one bite for a dog owner to be held liable for the accident. Regardless of the dog’s history, you may be able to file a claim against the owner. Grossman Law Offices can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
What Are the Requirements for Compensation?
Only some dog bite victims can seek compensation for their accidents. If you want to file a claim against the responsible party, your situation needs to meet the following criteria:
- The defendant is the dog owner
- You experienced an injury as a result of the incident
- The dog was the primary reason for your injury
- You were not trespassing on the property (with some exceptions), and were invited or had an implied invitation
Some of the laws regarding dog bites are confusing. For instance, some trespassers may be able to sue for damage. This could be the case if the owner trained the dog to attack you, and you were not a risk to the owner or anyone else at the property.
When Don’t You Have a Case?
Under some circumstances, you might not have a personal injury claim. If the dog was protecting the owner or other people from you, then a lawsuit won’t be effective. The same is true of a police or military dog who bit you while performing their duty.
Your behavior before the accident could impact your ability to file a claim. For example, you cannot receive compensation if you abused or teased the dog. If you were on a motorcycle or bicycle and a dog chased you, then you might not have legal recourse.
An accident in the workplace is a different situation. If your employer has worker’s compensation insurance, you need to go through those channels to receive money. But employers who fail to have insurance may be on the receiving end of a lawsuit.
Not all injuries are caused by dog bites. Sometimes, a dog knocks someone down and causes an injury. This situation isn’t much different than a dog bite. Often, the victim can still seek compensation.
As long as the dog owner acted in a negligent manner, they can be held responsible. Whether they had their animal off the leash or failed to control them, the owner could be to blame. You can go through the same channels as you would for bite-related injuries.
Damages in Dog Bite Claims
In all personal injury claims, victims can seek damages for their accidents. The sum of those damages are connected to the severity of your injuries, the amount of work you missed or will miss, and the way in which your injury will affect your life.
By filing a claim, you could receive money for all of your past, current, and future medical expenses. You may also receive damages for lost past and future income. If you have personal disfigurement from the accident, you are likely to have higher compensation. A permanent disability has the potential to increase your tota damagel amount.
Other possible damages include money for non-economic damages, such as emotional trauma, lesser quality of life, and loss of consortium.
In very rare cases, victims can seek punitive damages. However, this is only possible if your case involves fraudulent, oppressive, egregious, despicable, or maliceful behavior. For example, a court might award punitive damage to an individual who ordered their dog to attack you.
What Can Keep You From Receiving Damages?
If you fail to file your personal injury claim within the deadline, you may not receive any damages. In California, you only have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim. There is an exception, however. If the victim is under 18, the statute of limitations doesn’t kick in until they turn 18.
But you need to build your case. If you don’t have evidence to support your claim, the court won’t rule in your favor. You need medical reports, testimony, supporting documentation, and other evidence to make your case strong. By working with an attorney, you can improve your chances of success.
Insurance and Dog Bites
If the owner of the dog is an insured homeowner, their insurance may pay your damages. However, insurance doesn’t always make it easy to obtain compensation. You may need to negotiate for a fair deal or fight them in court.
Some home insurance policies don’t cover dog bites. If the insurance does not, then you can move forward with your personal injury claim. The homeowner could be financially responsible for paying your expenses.
Uninsured Renters or Homeowners
Collecting money from an uninsured individual can be difficult. This is because the money comes from their assets, not an insurance company. If the defendant files for bankruptcy, they could keep you from receiving the money you deserve. You may need to appear in bankruptcy court to prevent them from filing.
The situation could be slightly different if the dog owner is a renter. At times, you can hold the landlord or property owner responsible. For instance, there could be prior complaints about the dog that bit you. Failing to address those complaints is landlord negligence, which could make them liable for your dog bite.
Working with a Fresno Dog Bite Lawyer
Although dog owners are legally held to certain standards, they don’t always comply. Leash laws in Fresno and other regulations get broken. When they do, the result can be a dog bite.
Instead of letting a dog bite destroy your life, you can work with an attorney from our firm. At the Grossman Law Offices, we have years of experience fighting for dog bite victims. And we want to help you. Contact us today to learn more.