Fresno Dog Bite Lawyer
Dogs are a common sight in Fresno’s neighborhoods, downtown streets, and even (increasingly) within its local businesses. People take for granted that dogs will be friendly or, at very least, safe to be around. In reality, dogs can pose major threats, especially to young children, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
Every dog of every breed and size can bite someone. No matter how long they have been acquainted with that person or how “sweet” of a personality they seem to have, each dog has the capability to inflict serious harm. Injured victims are often left with unpaid medical bills, and they may lose out on income as they miss work to heal. Unfortunately, many of these victims neglect their legal right to pursue compensation from the offending dog’s owner.
California’s strict liability laws for dog bites mean that injury victims have a high likelihood of receiving a settlement after they have been bitten under most circumstances. Hiring an experienced dog bite lawyer in Fresno increases the chances that such a settlement will include all available damages, including future losses inflicted by long-term debilitation caused by the bite.
Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law can provide an experienced, compassionate attorney to help you pursue the maximum compensation available for your claim. Learn more about your legal rights and how cases like yours can be successfully resolved during your free, confidential, and no-risk case review. Schedule your free initial consultation today when you call Call (559) 878-4958 or Contact us online
How Can a Fresno Dog Bite Attorney Help Me?
While California’s dog bite laws are favorable to victims under most circumstances, dog bite cases are far from a “slam dunk” when it comes to recovering 100% of your damages. It can be difficult for the average person to predict the future costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation required for their injuries. They may also receive permanent limitations to the mobility of their appendages, especially in cases of severe injury to tendons in the calf, hands, neck, or face.
Working with an experienced dog bite attorney not only increases the odds that your claim will be successful, but also that your claim will include all of the needed compensation for all losses — past and future. Your attorney can also help you prepare for common defenses that can be used in an attempt to avoid liability or to foist responsibility partially upon the injured victim.
When you hire a Fresno dog bite lawyer from Singh Ahluwalia, you can expect comprehensive service and tireless pursuit of all available evidence. The quality and quantity of evidence in these cases can make a substantial difference in the size of compensation offered through a settlement. Your attorney can also help you potentially pursue other claims against related responsible parties, including negligent dog care facilities, defective dog fencing product manufacturers, and others who contributed to the circumstances of your attack.
People who are bit all too often feel guilt about pursuing compensation, but the reality is that dog owners should be held accountable for the costs they inflict. California law is clear that owners are strictly responsible in nearly all scenarios, and it also does not require that dogs are put down when a bite claim has been filed. There is no reason to delay your right to file a claim and seek all the damages you have suffered!
California Dog Bite Laws Impose Strict Liability Under Most Circumstances
In the state of California, the laws clearly hold owners responsible when their dog bites someone. California Civil Code 3342 imposes strict liability any time someone 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 law differs from other states, where it may be required for the victim to show that the dog owner had knowledge (or should have had knowledge) that the dog was dangerous based on previous incidents. Victims may also be expected to demonstrate that the dog owner was negligent in some way, such as by failing to warn someone that the dog could bite or by failing to keep the animal restrained in a public place.
California’s strict liability dog bit law only requires a few main provings, without the need to demonstrate negligence or a dog’s prior dangerous behavior. The provings are as follows:
- The named party (defendant) owned the dog, in fact
- The dog in question bit the claimant in a public place or on a private property the victim lawfully had permission to be on
- The dog bite inflicted substantial harm, leading to damages
- The dog in question was the primary factor in causing the harm described in the claim or filing
There are a number of legal considerations for cases, based on the required showings outlined above. They include:
- The location of the victim at the time of the accident and their permission to be there
- Whether the dog was operating in a law enforcement capacity
- Whether the victim antagonized the dog or provoked the attack in any way
- Whether the animal was under the care of someone other than the owner
- Whether the dog attack involved one or more actual bites, as opposed to some other aggressive action
Lawful vs. Unlawful Entry Onto Private Property
California law gives individuals permission to enter property pathways in order to perform business or engage in certain forms of solicitation. Examples of people who may lawfully enter a property without the owner’s prior knowledge include post office workers, census takers, people engaged in certain types of door-to-door sales or donation solicitation, and anyone with reasonable cause to try and make contact with the property owner with non-criminal intent.
Put another way: as long as you aren’t trespassing or otherwise entering a property to commit a crime, then there is a good chance that you were lawfully accessing it. The dog bite victim can be on their own property, on someone else’s property, or on the dog owner’s property when the bite occurs.
Posted warnings of “Danger” or “Beware of Dog” may not be sufficient to reasonably deter access to a property, especially if the individual has been given permission to enter the property before or otherwise has unrestricted access to a place where they believe the dog may not be present, such as a front yard or a walkway unrestricted by fencing.
In cases where the lawful entry to the property is unclear, the dog bite victim may still be able to seek a claim by establishing that the dog was known to be dangerous or that the owner was somehow negligent.
Dogs Serving as Law Enforcement Animals May Have Immunity
3342 (b) restricts liability for government agency owners or handlers of dogs when using them in official police or military capacities. If an individual was not party to the criminal acts being investigated or used as basis for an apprehension and they were bit, they may still have a cause of action to seek damages, especially if the dog was being mishandled or could otherwise be demonstrated to be unreasonably dangerous.
Dogs Can Defend Themselves From Aggression and Respond to Provocation
Any time a dog bite was the result of a provocation, intentional annoyance, or physical attack, then the injury victim may not be able to pursue a strict liability claim. Instead, they may be required to show that the dog was unreasonably dangerous or that the owner was somehow negligent.
As provocation is a common grounds for defending against dog bite claims, it is important to thoroughly document the circumstances of the attack so that evidence can accurately describe the victim’s actions and behaviors prior to the attack.
Note that any time a child younger than five is bitten, the provocation defense is not available, and the owner may still be held strictly liable for a failure to protect vulnerable children.
A Dog Bite Must Be a “Bite”
California’s dog bite liability laws provide broad justification for seeking any and all damages resulting from the attack. That can include a situation where the victim was injured fleeing from the dog or otherwise taking reasonable measures to remove themselves from the situation and to prevent further harm from occurring.
However, if the dog never physically “bit” the person, then the injury victim may need to file for damages under a broader negligence claim. A “bite” occurs any time the dog’s mouth closes around any part of a person or when the dog uses their teeth to grab and restrain the person. This definition allows someone to say they were “bitten” even when the dog bit a piece of clothing or an object they were holding, provided that the person suffered direct harm as a result of the dog’s violent behaviors.
In situations where a dog scratches someone, tackles them, or otherwise causes harm through their actions or the appearance of a credible threat, then the injury victim may need to file a negligence claim rather than a strict liability claim.
How Common Are Dog Bites in Fresno?
On a per-dog basis, dog bites are somewhat rare. However, when taking in consideration how commonplace dogs are in everyday scenarios, the odds of being bitten increase significantly.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says that there are an estimated 85 million dogs living in U.S. households. The Insurance Information Institute (iii) observes that around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with a majority of them being children 12 and younger.
Dog bite claims are among the most common types of homeowners insurance claims, costing insurers $882 million in 2021, according to the iii. The total volume of claims increased in 2021, too, rising 2.2% from 17,597 in 2020 to 17,989 in 2021. The average cost per claim was $49,025, and California had the highest volume of claims with 2,026 in 2021.
In Fresno, dog bites and other animal attacks are common, with a newsworthy incident occurring at least once every few months. A 2022 attack saw an older woman seriously injured by a loose pitbull while she was collecting recyclable litter from around the neighborhood.
Clearly, the risk of being attacked by a dog is far from zero, and it increases with the number of dogs encountered. As many people have taken to bringing their pet into the store with them and veterinarians are now being overwhelmed by maturing pandemic puppies, the risks of being involved in a serious dog bite incident may be growing.
What Damages Are Available Under a Typical Dog Bite Claim
While every dog bite injury claim is different, your Fresno dog bite injury lawyer can help you evaluate your own damages based on the following common forms of losses:
- Past medical treatments including emergency care, diagnostics, surgery, hospitalization, medications, specialized treatments, etc.
- Future medical treatments including rehabilitation, continuing care, and any surgeries, medications, or procedures required as a result of the injury.
- Lost wages inflicted by an inability to work while recovering or a disability that prevents the injury victim from returning to their old job duties
- Damaged property replacement including the costs of treating any pets injured, replacing torn clothing, etc.
- Pain and suffering and other forms of hardship or emotional distress that lead to a loss of enjoyment of life or normal activities
What to Do After You Have Been Bitten
Be sure to take the following steps any time you have been hurt in a dog attack:
- Move to a safe location as quickly as possible. Avoid trying to corral the dog or taking any means to subdue other than what is necessary.
- Perform first aid for dog bites in order to stabilize the wound, reduce bleeding, and reduce the risk of infection.
- Document all available evidence by taking pictures of your injury and saving all torn clothing, etc. Ask neighbors if they have camera footage available before it is deleted.
- Seek prompt medical attention from a nearby clinic or emergency room. Do not delay treatment, even for a wound you think is minor. You will need antibiotics and a formal diagnosis.
- Report the dog bite and file a police report.
- Speak to a dog bite lawyer in Fresno before talking to insurers, so that you can prepare the needed evidence to seek all damages you have suffered.
Dogs Do Not Have to Be Euthanized After a Bite Is Reported
California Civil Code 3342.5(b) provides that any animal involved in an attack on a human resulting in serious injury must be quarantined for 10 days to rule out the possibility that they have rabies. The quarantine can take place in the owner’s home or in a nearby animal shelter with the capacity to isolate the animal.
A dog is only euthanized when they either have a history of attacks prior to this one or if they have been trained as an attack or defense animal and have bitten someone unprovoked.
Work With Experienced Fresno Dog Bite Lawyers Who Want to See You Recover
When a dog bite occurs, it is natural for some injured victims to feel guilty or reluctant to pursue damages. Know that you are not trying to hold the dog accountable but rather the owner. You shouldn’t have to pay the costs of medical care or increased health insurance premiums because of the actions of someone else’s animal. No matter how well you know the owner or the dog, you still deserve to be made whole again after your attack.
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog in Fresno, do not hesitate to secure legal representation. A Fresno dog bit attorney from Singh Ahluwalia can help you build your case, collect evidence, document your damages, and file a claim seeking restoration of 100% of the losses you have suffered.