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Modesto Dog Bite Lawyer

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Dogs are known as man’s best friend and make good and loyal pets. However, there are instances when a dog becomes violent and attacks a human to the point of causing severe or even life-threatening bodily injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.7 million Americans are victims of dog bites yearly.

If you or a family member has been injured in a dog attack, please call our law firm at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 to discuss your case with one of our injury attorneys. We offer free, friendly advice.

Understanding Dog Bite Liability in California

The laws governing the liability associated with a dog attack are based on state law, so they will differ from state to state. California adheres to a strict liability theory. This means that dog owners are legally responsible for their dogs’ actions. This means the owner would be liable even if he cannot know that his dog would bite someone else.

California’s strict liability theory is codified in California Civil Code section 3342, which states that the owner of a dog may be held responsible for the harms and losses of a person bitten by the dog when (i) the injury was proximately caused by the dog and (ii) the victim was in a public area or lawfully in a private area when the incident occurred.

As you can see, a viable defense that can be raised by the dog’s owner is claiming you were trespassing on their property. California’s strict liability law requires that you were in a public place or lawfully authorized to be in a private area when attacked. If you were not allowed to be at the location where the attack occurred, you might not be able to recover any financial compensation. Assessing the viability of your case and whether strict liability applies is very fact-dependent. This is why it is so important to sit down and talk with an experienced Modesto dog bite injury lawyer so that they can provide you with counsel and advice on your legal options.

The Location of the Dog Bite Injury Claim

If a lawsuit needs to be filed by your attorney, the jurisdiction for the case is usually in the county where the incident occurred. The suit will typically be filed in a state civil court. Modesto dog bite injury cases are generally filed in the Superior Court of California, County of Stanislaus Civil Division.

Get the Contact Information of the Dog Owner

If you are attacked by a dog, obtaining the dog owner’s contact information is essential. This is important because you are typically compensated in a dog bite injury claim by filing the necessary documents with the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company. If you are bitten by a dog and do not know who owns the animal, you do not have a viable source of recoverable compensation. It resembles being involved in a hit-and-run accident where the at-fault driver flees the scene. In these scenarios, the only viable option outside the at-fault individual’s insurance company is filing an uninsured claim through your insurance policy.

Compensations for Dog Bite Injuries

The dog bite laws of California allow the victims of dog attacks to pursue financial restitution for their harms and losses through a personal injury claim. Forms of compensation include:

  • Reimburse the medical expenses related to the dog bite, including present and future medical expenses (e.g., corrective surgeries, rehab, etc.).
  • The replacement of personal property such as your clothes, watch, or glasses that may have been damaged during the attack.
  • Compensation for any disability and deformation suffered due to the dog bite.
  • Lost wages
  • Compensation for the emotional trauma you experienced and may still be experiencing due to the attack.
Settling Out of Court or Going to Trial

The decision to settle a dog bite injury case is ultimately yours. Your lawyer cannot accept a settlement offer without your express approval. Your attorney should offer guidance and the best advice on whether the settlement offer is fair and reasonable. This assessment is generally based on the amount of economic and non-economic damages you suffered, the amount of any medical liens or finance liens that may be owed on your case, and the total amount of money offered by the defendant’s insurance company.

The upside of agreeing to a settlement is that you typically resolve the claim quickly and with fewer formalities. An out-of-court settlement also removes the requirement that you testify in court. However, if the insurance company is not offering you a settlement amount that is appropriate given the amount of damages you suffered, then you have every right to reject the settlement and have the case go to trial. The risks are higher at a jury trial, but the reward can be much more significant.

Statute of Limitations and Filing Procedures

You must know the statute of limitations for a dog bite injury lawsuit. In California, the statute of limitations is two years, starting from the date of the dog attack. Your suit must be filed within these two years. Waiting any longer puts your entire case at risk of getting dismissed by a judge.

Filing a dog bite injury claim can be complicated. There are evidentiary records that need to be obtained, witnesses that need to be interviewed, court documents that need to be filed, a pre-trial discovery that needs to be conducted, and so forth. An experienced Modesto dog bite lawyer can help you deal with insurance companies and the courts to focus on your recovery.

The following video explains why you should hire a lawyer for your dog bite claim.

Contact a Modesto Dog Bite Attorney Today

If you or someone you love has been hurt in a dog attack, please call our experienced Modesto dog bite attorneys today at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 to schedule a free consultation at our Modesto office:

1015 12th Street, STE 7
Modesto, CA 95354

See our past verdicts and settlements.

Editor’s Note: updated [cha 8.21.23] sid rey [cs 1026] Photo by Pixabay