Animal Attack Attorney Referral Service
Animal attacks happen more often than you may think. Dogs alone caused more than 300,000 emergency room visits in the United States in 2011, stemming from an estimated 4.7 million attacks. Victims of these attacks can often reach a settlement or receive a judgement for compensation with the help of an experienced attorney. In California alone, there were 527 animal attack claims filed in 2011, and victims received more than $20.3 million from these lawsuits.
What Does California Law Say About Animal Attacks?
California’s animal attack laws classify it into a category known as a statutory strict liability state. This means that from the moment an owner acquires a dog or other animal, he is responsible for its behavior. Provided the victim was not trespassing or provoking the animal, he may be eligible to receive compensation for his injuries. Other regulations may apply if the victim was a child or teenager. This is why it is important to talk about your case with an experienced attorney who is familiar with California law.
Since negligence is not a factor in animal bite cases, victims are only responsible for proving:
- The defendant owns the animal
- The victim was lawfully on the property when the bite occurred
- The victim was bitten by the animal
- The bite caused more than a superficial injury
While California’s animal attack statutes mostly address dogs, any type of animal that could cause bodily harm to a person is included. This could include cats, horses, snakes and even wild animals kept as pets. The law is limited, however, in that it only directly addressed bites. Any other injuries — including those caused by being knocked down, jumped on or stepped on — may require you to prove negligence on the part of the owner in order to receive personal injury compensation.
What if the Owner Didn’t Know the Animal Was Vicious?
In the past, California and many other states operated on what was known as a “one free bite” rule. This meant that the owner of an animal could not be held liable unless the pet had previously demonstrated vicious behavior. Today, however, California law says that the owner of an animal is liable even if their pet has never demonstrated any tendency toward aggression. He is also responsible for paying damages or having proper insurance coverage to handle compensation if the animal attacks.
What Could the Compensation Cover?
California law allows bite victims to recover damages from the owner of an animal who attacked under a special statute, in conjunction with the doctrines of intentional tort, negligence, negligence per se and scienter. The compensation received from a settlement or judgement may include:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Future medical procedures, including those that are purely cosmetic such as scar reduction
- Counseling to prevent or treat PTSD and other emotional trauma
- Emotional damages related to disfigurement
- Mental anguish, pain and suffering
A highly-qualified lawyer will guide you through the process of filing a claim against the animal’s owner. Your attorney will be the best person to assess the specific circumstance of your case and to help you determine how much compensation you may receive.
How Do I Find an Experienced Attorney?
At the SFVBA Attorney Referral Service, we work to pair victims with the right lawyer for their individual situation. Our coverage area includes all of San Fernando Valley in California. Call us today at (818) 340-4529 to learn more about how we can help you find the best lawyer for your claim.