What Does It Take to Win A Dog Bite Case: Legal Insights And Strategies
Many victims think it doesn’t take much to win a big cash settlement in a dog bite injury claim. Indeed, the average settlement amount for animal attacks has doubled since 2013. However, although substantial compensation is available in these cases, insurance companies don’t give it away like toys on Christmas.
Insurance company profits have increased almost as much in the past ten years. So, when victims file dog bite claims, these companies quickly hire small armies of legal professionals whose only mission is to reduce or deny the victim’s compensation, regardless of the facts of the case. A dedicated Los Angeles personal injury lawyer levels the playing field.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. If a California Dog Bite Lawyer follows all three steps below and doesn’t look for a quick settlement or an easy way out, the victim usually receives maximum compensation.
Strategies for Maximizing Dog Bite Settlement
A good lawyer always puts first things first. Medical treatment is priority number one in any injury case, especially a dog bite injury case. These attacks often cause several kinds of injuries.
The attacking animal is frequently a large dog, like a pit bull, and the victim is a small child. The dog’s relative weight usually causes severe knockdown injuries primarily broken bones and head injuries. When a large dog lunges at a vulnerable victim, it’s hard to imagine the damage the attack causes, and the attack has hardly begun.
Some dogs are genetic retrievers. They bite softly to carry objects in their mouths. Other dogs are genetic attack animals. They bite savagely to cause the most severe injury possible.
When attacking dogs bite, their teeth usually cause deep puncture wounds and severe tearing lacerations. The puncture wounds almost literally slice open internal organs, causing massive bleeding. The tearing lacerations usually require extensive and costly treatment, including reconstructive surgery. Even then, these wounds often never completely heal.
The dual nature of the attack often causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD symptoms in children include:
- Unpredictable anger,
- Deep depression,
- Hypervigilance (irrational fear of all dogs), and
- Graphic nightmares.
Children simply cannot function at school, work, or anywhere else if they are suffering from such symptoms.
Los Angeles Dog Bite Injury Lawyers connect victims with doctors who focus on dog bite injuries. Once the victim is on the road to recovery, the matter can proceed to step two.
Building a Case
Dog bite settlements are exceptionally high in states like California, where animal attack victims have multiple legal options. These alternatives include:
- Strict Liability: The owner of a dog is strictly liable for any dog bite from the moment that ownership begins, provided that the victim was not trespassing, provoking the dog, or injured by his employer’s animal while on the job, or performing a paid service involving the dog. Workers’ compensation usually covers the latter two instances. The first two involve legal defenses. More on that below.
- Scienter: This word is Latin for “knowledge” and, in this context, Legalese for the one-bite rule. Owners are liable for damages if they know the animal was potentially vicious. Evidence on this point usually includes sudden lunging, aggressive barking, and other immediate pre-bite behavior. Prior attacks may also be relevant, whether the victim was a person or another animal.
- Negligence: Ordinary negligence often applies if the tortfeasor (negligent actor) was a third party, like a dog walker or a daycare teacher. Dog walkers are negligent if they don’t muzzle dogs as recommended. Daycare teachers are negligent if they let children play near strange dogs.
These different legal theories have their unique pros and cons in different situations. The broad strict liability law is a good example. This law is so sweeping that some pet owner jurors believe it penalizes dog owners, especially people who rescue dogs from troubled environments.
We mentioned the two most common insurance company defenses, trespasser and provocation, above.
A trespasser usually isn’t an adult thief who sneaks into the house and placates a dog. Instead, most trespassers are children who play unsupervised with dangerous dogs. The attractive nuisance rule usually applies in these cases. This rule elevates the victim’s status, so the duty of reasonable care usually applies.
This duty requires property owners to create and maintain safe and secure environments for their guests.
On its face, provocation seems like a broad defense. But, it’s very narrow and often inapplicable. First, provocation is an intentional act. People cannot accidentally provoke dogs. Second, provocation is a physical act. In fact, provoking a dog in California is practically the same as torturing a dog.
Consult Our Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers in California
Dog bite victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We handle matters throughout California.