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San Diego Dog Bite Attorney

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Dog Bites: How San Diego Dog Bite Attorneys at Haffner & Morgan Can Help

Injured in a dog attack? The San Diego personal injury attorneys at Haffner & Morgan, LLP have years of experience in helping the victims of dog bites get compensated. We provide free initial consultations and all of our dog attack cases are taken on a contingency (no recovery, no fee) basis.

Common Causes of Dog Attacks and Injuries

Dogs may bite for a variety of reasons. Often, biting is a response in reaction to an environmental factor. Some common causes of dog bites include:

  • Tethered and chained dogs
  • Poorly trained or unsocialized dogs
  • Negligence on part of the owner
  • Injured dog
  • Abused dog

What You Should Do if You’re Attacked By a Dog:

California has specific dog leash laws in place that are meant to prevent dog attacks from happening, but unfortunately, dog bites still occur.

Immediately following a dog bite, the first thing to do is to see a doctor for a medical evaluation. Not only is seeing a doctor critical for nurturing your health, but a medical evaluation can also be a crucial piece of evidence. When proof is needed that the dog bite caused damages, medical records can be presented and the witnessing physician can be called on to testify or deposed for a statement. Taking pictures of the injury and the course of the healing process can also be utilized as evidence.

Gathering the dog owner’s information is an important step to take as well. Even if after talking to an attorney that you would rather not sue, approaching the owner for a potential discussion of settlement requires getting the best way to contact the owner. If the dog bite occurred on commercial grounds, finding out the owner of the property can be helpful as well if testimony or video evidence is needed later on.

After a dog bite you may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages from missing work, pain and suffering, and emotional damage from the attack.

We also think it’s important to note that if you were bitten by a friend’s or neighbor’s dog, dog bite claims are typically filed against the dog owner’s renters or homeowners insurance company, not the individual dog owner. Dogs who don’t have a history of aggression will rarely face the chance of having to be put down.

dog bite injury

California Laws on Dog Bites

California Civil Code 3342 outlines the liability that a dog owner could face from damages resulting from a dog bite. According to the law, the dog owner is responsible for the damages suffered by the victim if the victim was bitten in a public place or on the private property of the dog owner. Also, government agencies who use military or police service dogs cannot be found liable if the victim is not involved in the activity where the dog was used.

There are certain exceptions to this rule. If the victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property at the time of the injury, the owner will not be held liable under the statute.

Who is Considered a Trespasser in Dog Bite Claims?

Dog owners are liable for their dog’s actions, even if a bite incident occurs on their own property unless the victim was on the property in the process of committing a crime, or trespassing. However, it’s important to understand the guidelines for determining a trespasser when evaluating liability in a dog bite claim. California defines a trespasser under California Penal Code Section 602.8 PC as anyone who willfully enters a fenced property with a no trespassing sign. It’s important to note common exceptions to trespassing laws since they impact liability in dog bite cases. The following are NOT considered trespassers in dog bite claims:

  • Young children who enter a property are not considered trespassers when the property owner should have reasonably understood that a child could enter their property
  • Post Office workers, delivery people, salespeople, religious solicitors, charity drive workers, or anyone approaching a home’s front walkway or front door on legitimate business if the front of the home (curtilage) isn’t fenced off with visible no trespassing signs
  • Hired repair people and contractors

When a dog owner could have anticipated the person’s presence on their property and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent their dog from biting, they are liable for damages even if the person on the property was uninvited.

Proving Liability in a Dog Bite Case

When a dog attacks and bites someone in either a public place or on private property but not trespassing or engaged in a crime, the dog’s owner is liable for damages like the victim’s medical bills and pain and suffering. Proving liability in a dog bite claim in San Diego requires demonstrating the following legal points of liability:

  • The dog owner had a duty of reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing injury
  • The dog owner was negligent and breached their duty of care to prevent harm
  • The negligence directly caused the victim’s injuries
  • The injuries caused real damages to the bite victim, including economic and non-economic damages 

Once your San Diego dog bite attorney shows by a preponderance of the evidence that the dog owner was liable for your damages they can craft a compelling case for your compensation through a settlement with the owner’s insurance company. Only rarely do dog bite cases in California require litigation in a courtroom.

Does California Impose the One Bite Rule?

Some places in the United States have a “one-bite rule” system wherein victims cannot recover compensation from a dog owner if the dog has never bitten or tried to bite anyone before. In this case, that “one bite” or first-time bite sways more in favor of the dog owner than the victim.

However, this does not apply in California. California imposes a strict liability system when it comes to dog bites. Dog owners are still liable for damages even if their dogs show no records of aggression.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Dog Bite Claim?

Dog bites are not only traumatic, painful, and disfiguring, but they’re also expensive. You may be facing stacks of medical bills from the initial hospital visit, anti-infection treatment, follow-ups, and possibly reconstructive plastic surgery. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may have missed many days of work. A successful dog bite claim in San Diego can help you recover the following damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses if you need further treatment or reconstructive surgery
  • Lost wages and future lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • PTSD, emotional trauma, anxiety, depression

A skilled personal injury attorney with a strong track record of success in dog bite claims can help to maximize the compensation for damages after a dog bite. Many dog attack victims experience emotional distress and anxiety after their experience. A mental health counselor can help to address any PTSD symptoms related to your attack.

Why Choose Haffner & Morgan San Diego Dog Bite Lawyers?

Dog bites can cause severe injuries that can affect the longevity of a victim’s health and ability to work. At Haffner & Morgan, our San Diego dog bite attorneys will fight to make sure that you are entitled to the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation, or call us at (619) 541-8787.