Dog Bites

When Animals Cause Personal Injuries

Was your child bit by a dog? Did an animal attack leave you with scars or worse?

Man's best friend is not always so friendly. About 4.5 million people are bit by dogs each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That works out to about one dog bite victim for every 72 people in our nation.

Since 1965, the lawyers at Girardi | Keese law firm have focused their efforts on representing people who have suffered physical, mental or financial harm caused by others. Failure to control an animal is one of a number of valid reasons to bring a personal injury claim for injuries against an owner. Let us help you understand your options — legal or otherwise — if you or a loved one is bit by another's dog.

What Are The Dangers?

While some bites are not serious, many lead to complications such as:

  • Disfiguring scars
  • Puncture wounds
  • Nerve damage
  • Severed fingers
  • Permanent or chronic pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Fatal injuries
  • Infections

One of the biggest concerns with animal bites is infection. Nearly one in five dog bites become infected. Deep wounds are especially susceptible to infection, as are wounds that need to be closed with sutures, such as facial injuries that require plastic surgery.

Another concern is rabies infection. Although this risk is much reduced due to vaccination requirements for pets, often you won't know if a particular pet has been vaccinated. Even a scratch from an infected animal can cause infection from this potentially deadly disease. Wild animals, of course, will not be vaccinated, requiring an immediate trip to the closest emergency room.

Common Risk Factors

While anyone in proximity to a dog is at risk of being bit, there are certain factors that can contribute to your risk.

  • Pets: More than 50 percent of dog bites are by dogs with whom you are familiar. Also, the more dogs you have, the more likely you or household members will be bit.
  • Age: As would be expected, young children are most likely to be bit by dogs due to their size, quick movements and loud noises that startle dogs and their inability to recognize dangerous situations.
  • Gender: It is interesting that men are bit more frequently than women are.

How To Prevent Dog Bites

Even those who have a lot of experience with dogs can get bit. Here are some tips that may help you or your child avoid a situation that can lead to a dog bite:

  • Do not approach a dog that is eating, sleeping, taking care of puppies or unaware that you are near.
  • Do not pet or stroke a dog without first letting it see you clearly and sniff you.
  • Do not leave your young child unsupervised with any animal.
  • Teach your children to respect the personal space of animals, to never chase them or run from them.
  • If you are approached by a dog you do not know, stand very still — don't run away and avoid direct eye contact.
  • If a dog is approaching you aggressively — growling and baring its teeth with raised hackles — stand still but, in a firm voice, say "no" or "go home" or both.

What To Do After An Animal Attack

Anyone who is injured by an animal should seek medical attention. While children are more likely to be injured by pets or other animals, they are also more likely to require medical attention after a bite. It is important for any adult to have a medical professional look at his or her wounds, especially because of the risk of infection.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses such as:

  • Medical care and future treatment
  • Lost wages and income due to missed work
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Mental issues like PTSD
  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disfigurement and scarring

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites

What is premises liability? This is a sub-species of personal injury law. Dog bites usually fall under this area of law. In general, premises liability holds that property owners of both residential and commercial properties are responsible for fixing unsafe conditions. There are some exceptions, such as where the injured person was trespassing or was not invited, though even in those cases property owners may still be held liable. When property owners fail to fix known and unsafe conditions, the law of premises liability holds them accountable for harm.

What is the law on dog bites in California? Section 3342 of the California Civil Code is our state's dog bite law. It reads, in part, as follows:

  • "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."

The breed of dog does not particularly matter as the law is concerned. Whether a pit bull or miniature schnauzer, the dog owner is liable for others' injuries. It is a form of "strict liability," which generally means that dog owners have little to no legal excuse from liability.

No Obligation Consultation ~ Call Today

Contact us by email or call us toll free at 800-401-4530 to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys and learn about your options. Let us put more than 40 years of experience, compassion and dedication to work for you.

Personal injury claims are handled on a contingency basis, which means you pay no attorney fees unless you obtain monetary compensation for your losses. Let us handle the details of your claim while you concentrate on your recovery. We represent dog bite and animal attack victims in California and across the nation.