Dog Bite Attorney in San Diego – We Fight for Compensation for Animal Attack Victims in California
When someone’s animal attacks you, the ensuing days can be confusing. The Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba have the experience and dedication to ensure that your rights are protected.
San Diego dog bite attorney Ronald B. Laba works with individuals to ensure they're awarded the compensation they are entitled to. Our firm knows the potential severity that dog bite injuries can inflict. Very often dog bite injuries go unreported until well after the event. Tragically it’s often small children who are victims of dog bites.
While you may think that it’s only vicious attack dogs – pit bulls, german shepherds, rottweilers – that can inflict damage, the fact is that every dog bite is dangerous.
Injuries that can be sustained from dog bites include:
- Injury requiring surgery
- Orthopedic injuries
- Permanent damage to the extremities (hands or feet)
- Injuries resulting in permanent scarring to the face
- Loss of finger or loss of fingers
Any type of personal injury case can be confusing and somewhat embarrassing. Many people would rather just turn a blind eye to a dog bite of a friend or neighbors simply because they would rather not deal with the repercussions. When things are reported to insurance companies, they would often rather just settle and do a small quick claims payout than deal with the longer-term health effects.
If a dog has bitten you it’s important you seek out health care advice before signing away your rights. It is also wise to find legal counsel so you can be sure that you are being correctly compensated for your troubles.
Should I sue my neighbor or friend whose dog bit my child or me?
It may be something as simple and innocent as walking on a beach or strolling in your neighborhood. But if an unfamiliar dog attacks you you need to ensure that you take proper steps so that it doesn’t happen again and that you are correctly compensated. Dog bites are very often the result of owner negligence. When you know the owner and the dog it can be even more awkward. However, just because you know the owner, that doesn’t mean you are responsible for the behavior of their dog.
Even with the very best attendance, there are times when things can happen through no fault of anyone’s. One good thing for most pet owners is that there are riders which go along with homeowners insurance policies which will cover them in the event that there is some type of dog bite event. It’s important to keep that in mind; just like an automobile accident with someone you know, your claims are going to be with their insurer; you are not maliciously going after your friends or family members; you are just trying to get your medical expenses covered which took place as a result of their pets behavior. It is vital to maintain relationships with friends and family members; discretion and tact from an attorney is essential in cases such as this.
Injured in an animal attack? Contact attorney Ronald B. Laba today
If an animal has attacked you and you don’t know how to proceed you are going to need an experienced voice and ear in your corner. Recovery takes time, wounds don’t heal when put under duress, and justice still belongs to those who’ve done nothing wrong.
Contact the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba and get a free, no-obligation consultation to find out your rights. Call our offices in San Diego or Vista at 844-439-8969.
How to Protect Your Rights After a Dog Bite
If you or someone you love has recently been attacked and bitten by a dog or other animal, your life can rapidly change in a matter of moments. The injury itself may cost thousands of dollars to treat and leave scars that never fully disappear. The trauma of the experience can leave "emotional scars," particularly on small children, that may last for many years to come.
As a dog bite victim living in Southern California, you have rights that may entitle you to substantial compensation for medical expenses (both immediate and long-term), trauma counseling sessions, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other impacts the dog bite has had on your life. Unless, however, you take actions to protect your rights, you may get only a low-ball offer from an uncooperative insurance company or no compensation at all.
By contacting a skilled dog bite lawyer, you can learn about your legal options and discuss the details of your case. At the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba, we have the experience and tools to win your claim. We also want you to give you the resources you need to better understand your case, which is why we provide answers to the following five questions just below:
- What Is California's Dog Bite Law?
- What Are the Most Common Dog Bite Injuries?
- How Can Dog Bite Injuries Be Prevented?
- What Should I Do After a Dog Bite Attack?
- How Can an Attorney Help With a Dog Bite Claim?
What Is California’s Dog Bite Law?
In California, dog owners are automatically liable when their animals attack a human being. This was not always the case in California, which once had a "one bite rule" like many other states still do, which required the owner be proven negligent in controlling his/her dog or that the dog had shown vicious tendencies in the past.
Today, the California dog bite statute (Civil Code Section 3342) establishes "strict liability." The meaning of this was beautifully illustrated by the 1986 case Massey v. Colaric, which concluded that a dog owner is, for all practical purposes, "an insurer of the dog's conduct."
Thus, California dog owners bear the full burden of liability for their dogs and are legally required to take all reasonable steps to control their dogs and prevent a dog bite attack.
The full text of California’s dog bite statute, California Civil Code Section 3342, runs as follows:
Subdivision (a): 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.
A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
Subdivision (b): Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (a) against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following:
(1) In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect’s involvement in criminal activity.
(2) In the investigation of a crime or possible crime.
(3) In the execution of a warrant.
(4) In the defense of a peace officer or another person.
Subdivision (c): Subdivision (b) shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite or bites was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act or acts that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work.
Subdivision (d): Subdivision (b) shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subdivision (b).
Thus, dog owners are legally liable for their dog's conduct in essentially all locations and regardless of the dog's past tendencies. This statute, however, does not serve to limit the lawful activities of police/military dogs, but neither can such "government dogs" run roughshod over law-abiding citizens. And proper use of police dogs must be spelled out in written policies, not made up after the fact if a dog bite case should involve a police dog.
What Are the Most Common Dog Bite Injuries?
According to the CDC, there are over four million U.S. dog bite attacks every year and around 885,000 of them are serious enough to merit professional medical attention. To make matters worse, a great number of dog bite victims are small children, and such victims often need years of therapy and counseling to fully recover from the attack both physically and psychologically.
The pain and trauma of a dog bite attack can have serious consequences, even with smaller dogs. It is true that certain breeds, such as rottwilers and pit bulls, are responsible for the greater part of dog bite attacks, but no dog is incapable of injuring a human being.
Some of the worst injuries sustained by dog bite victims include the following:
- Permanent face and body scars, sometimes requiring reconstructive surgery
- Infections in puncture wounds caused by bacteria the dog was carrying
- Orthopedic injuries that require both surgical and non-surgical treatment
- Damaged nerves in the face, neck, or limbs that cause chronic pain and localized immobilities
- Loss of fingers/toes and other permanent deformation of the hands and feet
- Post-traumatic stress syndrome, leading to frequent nigthmares, fear of dogs, and a reluctance to venture outdoors
If you or a loved one have been attacked and injured by someone else's dog, do not hesitate to contact Ron Laba for help in collecting the compensation you are owed. He understands the law and knows how to make insurers and defense attorneys play fair. He knows what to expect from those who would deny your claim. For example, insurance companies may try to deny or low-ball your claim even after serious physical and emotional damage has been demonstrated. Plastic surgeons also sometimes refuse to give out estimates to dog bite victims who must wait to win their case before affording the cost of the surgery. Ron Laba knows how to work around these and other obstacles and win you the maximum amount of compensation in as little time as possible.
How Can Dog Bite Injuries Be Prevented?
With around 4.5 million dog bites and nearly 900,000 serious dog bite injuries occurring in the U.S. every single year, it is a worthy question whether there be some way to prevent these incidents from ever happening. While it is unrealistic to think that all dog bite attacks can be prevented, the San Diego County Animal Services department has some helpful advice on working to minimize their number:
- Never approach a stray or unknown dog. Never attempt to pet or touch a fenced dog. Dogs are very territorial by nature and are likely to see your gestures as a threat.
- Before touching a dog, always allow it to sniff you. This is how dogs learn to recognize new people.
- Never pet a dog while it is eating, sleeping, taking care of its puppies, or chewing on a bone or dog toy.
- If a child is with a dog, do not leave him/her alone. Make sure the child does not pull the dog's tail or ears. Injury or death is all too common when young children/babies are left alone with dogs—even with a dog they already know.
- Never purposefully annoy a dog. Provocations will be regarded as threats, and an attack may likely follow.
- Always remain calm and still when confronted by a dog. Speak in a calm, firm manner if you speak to the dog. If you move away, do so slowly, backing up but maintaining eye contact.
- Never scream and run away from a threatening dog. This will only excite the dog and give it a chance to do something it loves to do—chase a fast object.
While negligence or provocation can, in some cases, reduce or eliminate a dog bite claim, do not assume that your case falls into that category. California’s dog bite statute puts full liability on the dog owner, and it is possible that you will be legally entitled to compensation for almost any dog bite scenario imaginable. Be sure to contact the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba to discuss your case and to get started on winning your claim.
What Should I Do After a Dog Bite Attack?
When a dog attack occurs, the fear and surprise may shock you and leave you momentarily unsure of what to do. Soon, however, you react to protect yourself or your child. You remove the child from the dog's presence and call the ambulence if necessary.
Once the immediate medical situation is under control, however, the very next thing you should do is contact a good dog bite lawyer. If you contact Ron Laba, he will then help you to take appropriate steps to protect your rights and avoid losing all or a substantial part of your rightful compensation. Some actions to take soon after a dog bite attack include:
- Write down the name and address of the dog's owner and a description of the dog itself.
- If it can be done safely, get some pictures of the dog. Also take pictures of the wound and the scene of the incident.
- Call animal control and/or the local police to create an official report of the attack.
- Obtain all medical records showing the results of the bite on the victim.
- Enlist the help of a skilled dog bite lawyer like Ronald B. Laba.
Don't accept the first settlement offer an insurer sends your way, not even if a "take it or leave it" attitude accompanies the offer. Don't assume that collecting compensation from a friend, family member, or neighbor will automatically cause undue conflict. And don't go to court or negotiate a settlement without the assistance of an experienced dog bite attorney—it will take a professional attorney with deep knowledge of California dog bite law to obtain full compensation.
How Can an Attorney Help With a Dog Bite Claim?
Unlike in some U.S. states, in California, there is no "one bite rule" that allows victims to go uncompensated the first time a dog turns on a human being. Instead, dog owners are held strictly liable for their dogs' actions, regardless of the where the incident took place.
This makes it easier for victims to recover financial compensation for their losses. Claims can include reimbursement for hospital bills, medications, rehabilitation, likely future medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and psychological trauma. Punitive damages can also apply in cases where dog owners were exceptionally negligent or acted with reckless indifference for the safety of others.
Actually winning these claims, however, is nearly impossible without the help of a legal expert. The losses you sustained are real, and you could be left to carry the burden alone without compensation unless you contact a good dog bite lawyer.
Using a dog bite lawyer typically results in receiving double the settlement amount, even after attorney's fees have been paid, compared to simply working out a settlement with an insurance company one on one. Also note that many attorneys, including Ron Laba, work on a contingency basis. You only pay if you collect on your claim. Thousands of dog bite victims go uncompensated or under-compensated every year, but it need not be so. Well seasoned dog bite lawyers like Ronald B. Laba have the expertise to get you a maximized claim.
Contact Us Today
At the Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba, we have deep experience with handling all manner of dog bite cases in San Diego and North Counties. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for help by filling out the online contact form or calling us 24/7 at 844-439-8969 for a free, one-hour case evaluation. We can also meet with you in person at our San Diego or Vista, CA, office or meet you at a hospital or another location. We have won full compensation for many other dog bite victims in the past, and we look forward to doing the same for you.