Dog Bite Attorney Referral Service
My Child Got Attacked by a Neighbor’s Dog, Can I File a Claim Against Them?
In California, California Civil Code section 3342 controls dog bite liability. Under the law, the owner of any dog is liable for damages suffered by any person, including children, who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog’s owner.
This liability attaches regardless of whether the dog has been formerly aggressive or if the owner has knowledge of the dog’s vicious nature.
As a result, if your child was attacked by a neighbor’s dog in a public place or while on the neighbor’s property with permission, your neighbor will be liable for your child’s damages. You will be able to file a lawsuit against them to recover those damages.
Furthermore, if the child is under the age of five years old, he or she is legally incapable of acting with reasonable care toward a dog. This has been held true in California courts. A child under the age of five is considered to be incapable of provoking a dog, as held a California appellate court case in 1961.
If the child is above five years old and was negligent in his or her actions against the dog that resulted in a dog bite, his or her damages can be reduced by his or her degree of negligence.
Who Will Cover Medical Bills?
Most dog owners will have insurance coverage for their pets through either their homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. However, if they do not, they will be liable for the damages. Additionally, the insurance they have may not pay adequate compensation for the damages that have been suffered due to the dog bite.
In short, the dog owner’s insurance policy can cover some, if not all, of the damages sustained due to a dog bite, which includes medical bills. If the insurance policy does not pay out enough, the owner may be liable for the balance of the remaining costs. These include immediate medical costs and long-term medical costs.
How Can an Attorney Help Hold the Party Responsible?
A dog bite attorney can assist you with your damages claim against the dog’s owner. He or she will be able to evaluate your specific case, tell you whether it is likely to be successful, and how much you will likely be able to recover against the dog owner.
Some dog owners may try to defend against the suit by saying you, or your loved one, was responsible for the dog bite. Common defenses include that you, or a loved one, provoked the dog, were comparatively negligent, or willingly assumed the risk of interacting with the dog.
A personal injury attorney well-versed in handling dog bite cases will be able to thwart these defenses by the dog owner and ensure that you recover what you or your loved one are entitled to under the law, even if you were partially responsible for the injury.
A dog bite attorney will be skilled at negotiating a settlement, especially if the case is clear-cut, and liability is not contested. If big insurance companies are involved in the damages claim, an experienced and professional attorney will not find this intimidating.
If the case is unable to settle, which happens for a variety of reasons, a dog bite attorney will be able to prepare the case for trial. This includes interviewing any potential witnesses and securing them for trial testimony, preparing you or your loved one for trial, advocating for you in front of a jury or judge, and coming up with a persuasive, effective case strategy.
For a referral to a properly vetted attorney, contact the Attorney Referral Service of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association (818) 340-4529.