Dog Bites
Dog Bites

Dog bites – When do you need a personal injury lawyer?

Dog bites are traumatic. If you’re bitten by a dog, you may ask, “Do I need a personal injury lawyer?!” The answer is, ‘maybe.’ The following information will be helpful to you in deciding whether to contact a personal accident lawyer for your dog bite.

Bakersfield has a leash law for dogs. Dogs must always be on a leash when on public property. If your dog is anywhere outside of a house or fenced yard, it must also be leashed on private property (including your own yard). The leash law exists to protect people from dog bites. In California, when a dog bites a person, the dog owner is usually responsible, even if the dog has never bitten anyone or showed aggressive tendencies. Dog owners are also responsible if someone is bit while trying to break up a dog fight or prevent a dog from biting another person. A ‘Beware of Dog’ sign doesn’t necessarily protect the dog owner.

What to do if a dog bites you

Your first priority is to get medical attention for any dog bites, because infection is a strong possibility. If available, and you are medically stable, collect information about the dog and the owner. (You will need information about the dog’s shot records, especially rabies.) If there are witnesses, ask for their contact information, too. Take photos of the injuries prior to treatment, and when you go to the doctor, describe the circumstances of the bite for the record. If you are bitten on the face, seek a plastic surgeon for treatment.

Because homeowners insurance covers dog bites, you may deal with an insurance company for reimbursement of medical expenses. But you don’t need to agree to a final settlement if you think that you need a personal injury lawyer. If you want to get a personal accident lawyer involved, you have up to two years to file a claim. Psychological trauma may not be apparent right away, but may cause problems for you within weeks or months after the bite.

You should also file a report with animal control with the City or County.

How a personal accident lawyer will help you

An attorney can be very helpful in representing you with the insurance company to make certain that you receive what you’re due. In court, your personal injury attorney must demonstrate that the dog was owned by the defendant, and that you were bitten and injured. Additionally, your attorney will prove that the bite took place on public property or that you were legally on private property.

Your personal accident lawyer will help you receive compensation for medical bills, loss of wages, pain and suffering, future requirements for plastic surgery, and psychological counseling.

When the dog owner is not responsible

A personal accident lawyer is not needed for dog bites in the following circumstances:

  • Dog owners are not responsible for bites if the bitten person trespassed on private property, or provoked the dog. An example of provoking is inflicting pain on a dog that would legally justify aggressive behavior.
  • If a person is bitten at work by an employer’s dog, then the case is a labor/workers compensation issue, and doesn’t fall in the dog bite statute.

Please contact our office if you or someone in your family is bitten by a dog. We’ll help you navigate the process to compensation.

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