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If you get bit at a dog park, it is essential to understand the following: Laws related to dog bites and the regulations governing dog parks may vary across states. Nevertheless, in most instances, the responsibility for accidents or injuries caused by a dog falls upon its owner. When a dog owner brings their pet to a dog park, it is their responsibility to ensure the dog’s behavior does not pose a risk to others. Should a dog bite occur at a dog park or elsewhere, the dog owner is responsible for covering the resulting damages unless they can provide evidence that the victim’s actions led to the incident.
These damages often involve medical expenses and other associated costs arising from the necessary medical treatment of the dog bite victim’s injuries. Medical bills can accumulate swiftly, and due to the severity of their wounds, victims often encounter financial strain and may need to take time off work. The good news is that many of these losses can be legally compensated in California.
Common Injuries California Dog Attack Victims Sustain
A vicious dog attack in a dog park may leave the victim with severe and occasionally incapacitating injuries. The unfortunate victim may sustain puncture wounds or large lacerations that require surgery. Additionally, the damaged area might have teeth marks, and they might need immediate medical attention.
However, there are situations when the dog would knock the person over instead of biting them. The victim of the dog attack may still sustain soft tissue injuries in this case, such as sprains or strains to the muscles, especially in the back or neck. In addition, if the sufferer hits the ground immediately, they could break a bone or suffer another serious injury that requires surgery. Additionally, if the victim’s head collides with the ground, they may sustain head trauma, including concussions that could render them momentarily immobile.
If a dog attacks you at a dog park and you sustain any injuries mentioned above, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The experienced dog bite injury lawyers at Arash Law can pursue a reasonable settlement offer for your case and submit a claim to the appropriate insurance provider. Since a lot of these injuries necessitate protracted and costly medical care, we will fight to make sure you get full and just compensation for everything you endured.
We can pursue legal options in the court system if the insurance company declines to give you compensation. Our legal team will put forth great effort to make sure you receive the total compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.
Six Dog Bite Levels (injury Scale for Dog Attacks)
- Level 1: The dog behaves aggressively toward a person or another animal but does not make skin contact with their teeth.
- Level 2: The dog makes skin contact with their teeth but does not puncture them.
- Level 3: The dog bite causes one to four punctures from a single bite, each no deeper than half the dog’s canine tooth length. There may be lacerations in a single direction if the victim moves or the owner pulls the dog away.
- Level 4: The dog bite causes one to four punctures from a single bite, at least one deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. There may also be lacerations and deep bruising around the wound in bites at level four.
- Level 5: The dog bites the victim multiple times, leaving deep wounds. The victim sustains at least two level four bites or multiple attacks involving at least one level four bite.
- Level 6: The dog attack results in the death of the victim.
What You Need to Know About Dog Ownership Laws in California
Here’s an important fact: California is one of 36 states that follow strict liability rules regarding dog bite injury claims. In simpler terms, if your dog causes harm or bites a person, you, as the owner, are liable for damages. This rule applies regardless of whether your dog has never bitten anyone or displayed violent tendencies. Even if the dog does not bite, the owner might still be held accountable under another law theory if the dog tries to attack or knocks someone over.
On the other hand, some states follow the “one-bite rule,” whereby an owner would not be liable unless the dog had bitten someone or acted aggressively toward people before.
As per California Civil Code 3342, dog owners are legally accountable for the damages suffered by any person bitten by their dog in a public area or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner.
There are some surprising situations in which strict liability applies.
- For instance, suppose your dog tussles with another dog and knocks its owner or another person down during the fight. Should the other party suffer an injury, regardless of whether both dogs are leashed, you could still be held liable.
- Suppose your dog attacks someone who lawfully steps onto your property for reasons such as delivering mail, making a sales call, or introducing themselves. In that case, you are fully responsible for bite injuries and complications. You may even be liable if your dog bites someone who enters your property illegally.
However, the strict liability law in the California dog bite statute may not be applicable in some instances. Some exceptions include:
- The victim was trespassing when the dog attacked him.
- The dog bite victim provoked the dog.
- The victim sustained injuries from their employer’s dog while at work.
- The person was performing a paid service when they were injured.
Is There a 1-Bite Law in California?
Dog bite cases in California are not subject to the “one-bite rule.” Instead, under state law, dog owners are solely responsible for any harm their dogs may cause. This rule applies even if the dog has never bitten someone or shown aggressive tendencies.
The one-bite rule can become a factor when the strict liability rule is not applicable. It is possible to use it as evidence that the defendant acted negligently in allowing the attack to occur, making them liable for your injuries. If they are held accountable, they must pay compensation for your losses.
Determining Legal Liability in A Dog Bite Case
In the U.S., more than 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites each year. These injuries frequently result in costly medical bills, emotional trauma, and income loss. According to State Farm Insurance, California has the highest number of claims related to dog bite injuries.
Thankfully, there are several ways to recover damages from dog owners and their insurance providers in the event of a dog attack.
Here are some questions used to determine legal liability in dog bite cases:
- Before the incident in which you were attacked, did the dog tend to bite people for no apparent reason?
- Was the dog’s owner aware of the dog’s dangerous tendencies?
- Did the attack violate any laws about animal control?
- Was there any negligence on the part of the dog’s owner?
Potential Monetary Compensation and Damages You Can Recover in A California Dog Bite Case
Depending on the kind and severity of injuries sustained, a dog attack victim may be entitled to certain types and amounts of damages. Compensation may also depend on the dog attack victim’s medical treatment and cost, lost earnings, and more.
Depending on how severe the bite is, a dog bite victim can sue for medical expenses, lost wages, emotional trauma, and other damages. However, in most cases, “pain and suffering” are not compensable.
In California, dog attack victims may seek the following damages:
- Economic Damages: These can include out-of-pocket costs, such as medical expenses, income loss, future loss of income, and counseling expenses.
- Non-Economic Damages: These typically encompass non-money-related issues, including pain and suffering, a decline in overall well-being, and emotional distress.
- Punitive Damages: If the dog owner was found negligent or aware of their dog’s tendency to attack, you may be entitled to additional economic damages from the defendant or their insurance company.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites
Can you file a lawsuit in California for a minor dog bite injury?
Yes, absolutely! California law allows you to sue for a minor dog bite injury. California law gives dog bite victims the right to seek compensation for their injuries. This rule does have some exceptions, though, like in cases where the injured victim provoked the dog or was trespassing. In such a case, the owner’s liability may be reduced.
When should I consult with dog bite lawyers in California?
Speaking with knowledgeable dog bite lawyers immediately is crucial if a dog has recently attacked you in a park (or anywhere else). Our award-winning attorneys who specialize in dog bite cases at Arash Law are experienced, aggressive, and ready to advocate on your behalf. You do not have to worry about paying unless we win your case.
What Should I Do After a Dog Bite Attack in A Dog Park?
There are a few things you can do to protect your legal rights if a dog bites you at a dog park:
- Check the posted signs at the dog park.
Check to see if any signs say dogs can be off-leash and that certain breeds are not allowed in the park. There might also be a posted waiver at the dog park outlining all the risks, including the potential for a dog bite.
- Call the police.
Call 911 and report the dog bite attack. The responding officer can assist you in finding the dog’s owner. In addition, they can also talk to and get written statements from the witnesses at the scene. The officer can then forward your complaint to the judge under oath.
- Exchange contact information with the dog’s owner.
If a dog attacks you in a dog park, remember to get the owner’s name, address, and phone number. By doing this, you can verify the dog’s vaccination status.
- Get medical care.
Consider taking photos of your wounds to gauge how bad the dog bite was before getting medical treatment. Then, clean the affected area, put on antibiotic cream, and cover it with a bandage. Once you have cleaned and bandaged your wound, get medical attention immediately.
- Document the progression of your injuries.
It is vital to document medical records and bills while you’re undergoing medical treatment. Doing so helps your attorney determine the total damages you are entitled to. Please take pictures and videos to document the progression of your injuries, including how they healed and developed and whether they left you immobile or scarred.
Writing down how the bite has affected your mental state can also help you gauge how dire your mental distress is.
- File a personal injury claim.
When you get bitten at a dog park, file a personal injury claim. You are entitled to compensation for all the damages sustained due to the dog attack.
It’s crucial to select a seasoned dog bite attorney to help you:
- File a personal injury claim.
- Investigate your claim.
- Assess the amount of your medical expenses and lost wages if you need to take time off work to recover.
- Create a legal strategy to prove in court that the dog owner is responsible and that their dog is dangerous.
- Check the posted signs at the dog park.
The judge can order the dog to be spayed, neutered, or confined permanently if the dog is proven dangerous. They can also order dog owners over 21 to keep their dogs on a leash whenever in public places. The judge may also require the owner to use a muzzle to keep their dogs from harming others, especially on public premises.
7 Common Mistakes to Avoid After a Dog Bite
- Failing to seek immediate medical attention: Delaying medical treatment after a dog bite can negatively affect your health and legal case. Seek medical attention as soon as possible to determine and document the severity of the injury. If the injury is not documented correctly, your chances of receiving compensation may be reduced.
- No expert evaluation of the dog’s behavior: Neither a veterinarian nor an animal specialist conducted a professional assessment of the dog’s temperament. Looking into the dog’s past behavior is essential, mainly because owner denial frequently contributes to bite incidents. A recorded evaluation can help assess the dog’s behavior.
- Not reporting the incident to authorities: Notifying the relevant authorities, such as local animal control or law enforcement, is crucial for a smooth investigation and documentation process. By reporting the incident, you can establish a formal record and help determine who is liable for the dog bite injury.
- Not gathering evidence: You risk losing your case if you fail to gather necessary evidence, like pictures of the injuries, names of witnesses, or contact details for the owner. You must present substantial evidence to prove liability and the total amount of your damages.
- Failure to hire an investigator: In some cases, investigators can get and record more evidence from the dog owner’s residence, such as chewed-through furniture and heavily scratched doors.
- Settling too quickly: If you immediately accept the dog owner’s insurance company’s settlement offer without consulting a personal injury lawyer, your claim may be worth less than it should be. Before agreeing to a settlement, make sure you fully understand your rights and the possible compensation you are entitled to.
- Not consulting an attorney: Dog bite cases involve various legal considerations and statutes. As such, they can be complicated. You may overlook legal options if you do not consult an experienced personal injury attorney after a dog bite. Worse, it can lead you to accept unjust settlements. A lawyer can guide you on what to do, protect your rights, and help you get fair compensation.
Dog Park Guidelines
In the U.S., approximately 1,000 people suffer from dog bite accidents at dog parks each day. Breeds such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and American Bulldogs are more likely to cause dog bite accidents than others. Fortunately, there are some things dog owners can do to keep their dogs from harming others, and dog parks have regulations to protect people and their dogs.
Here are some safety tips usually included in standard dog park guidelines:
- No dog should be unsupervised or allowed to run loose in dog parks.
- Dog owners should not take their dogs to parks if they know the dog’s dangerous nature.
- If a dog has harmed someone before, it should not be allowed to enter the dog park, even on a leash.
- Larger dogs should not be allowed in a “small-dog area” where they might attack a smaller dog and cause severe damage.
Dog Park Etiquette Tips
Here are some tips to make your next trip to the dog park safer and more enjoyable for everyone:
- Make sure you clean up after your dog.
- Not cleaning up your dog’s mess and letting someone else pick it up is inconsiderate. Plus, dog waste can spread parasites, worms, and other diseases.
- Always keep an eye on your dog.
- It is best to watch your dog at all times when at a dog park. This way, you can prevent a potentially dangerous situation before it worsens.
- Take your dog away from potentially dangerous situations.
- Take your dog to a different location or leave the park immediately if it starts acting agitated or aggressively toward another dog or person.
- Please avoid bringing your dog to the park when it is sick.
- Dog owners should not endanger other animals by bringing their sick dogs to the park, particularly those infested with ticks or fleas, as these parasites can transmit diseases.
- Do not bring toys, food, or treats to the dog park.
- Some animals can be allergic to or sensitive to certain foods, and another dog may accidentally consume something that could be harmful to them. Additionally, giving your pet treats or toys may also cause dog fights.
How a Dog Park Case Operates Differently than Other Dog Bite Cases
The burden of proving negligence is one of the main differences between dog bite cases that occur inside and outside dog parks. The easiest way to hold the dog owner accountable for the harm their dog caused is to prove that they were careless. However, dog bite victims in dog parks may have difficulty establishing the dog owner’s carelessness. Negligence is most commonly proven when the owner lets the dog be off-leash when it is not allowed.
In most cases, though, dogs can be off-leash inside a dog park. Still, this does not mean owners can let dogs bite and harm other animals or people without facing any consequences. To prove negligence in a case of injury, you must prove that the dog owner brought a potentially dangerous dog into a public area. The owner can be careless if they knowingly bring an unfit dog to a dog park or fail to leash it when necessary. Again, this type of case would have a higher burden of proof than a typical dog bite case because a leash is legally optional in dog parks.
California’s Statute of Limitations for Dog-Bite Cases
There are laws in every state known as “statutes of limitations” that specify the time a lawsuit must be filed. The deadline for filing varies depending on the type of case you want to file. However, keep in mind that missing the deadline always has severe consequences. Unless some rare exceptions apply, the court will only accept your case if you file your claim on time.
There is no specific statute of limitations for dog bite lawsuits in California. Instead, the state’s statute of limitations for personal injury, assault, or battery applies to such cases. This law requires dog-bite civil suit plaintiffs to file within two years of the injury. In certain situations, the period may be extended. If the person who owns or controls the dog is charged with a crime, then different deadlines will apply.
Speak with A Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If a dog bites someone or causes harm at a dog park or any other public place, the owner is usually held accountable for the dog’s behavior. However, proving that the incident happened without provocation or knowledge of the dog’s dangerous tendencies can be daunting. That’s why you need the best dog bite lawyer near you to help.
There is no need to scour the internet for the best dog bite attorney. The experienced California dog bite lawyers at Arash Law are committed to ensuring dog bite victims get the most compensation for their injuries caused by a dog owner’s negligence. With decades of experience, our skilled legal team will pursue the best settlement you deserve.