Roughly 40% of the 13,217,586 households in California own dogs, and most of those dogs will never attack someone. Unfortunately, there is a small minority of canines that are prone to dog attacks, and the victim of a dog bite injury can suffer significant consequences for a long time after the attack.
Thankfully, California’s dog bite law holds dog owners strictly liable for their animal’s behavior, whether or not the animal had previously indicated that they were aggressive or had any history of attacks.
If you or someone in your family has been hurt or killed in a dog attack, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you suffered as a result. You can seek to recover compensation for losses like your medical bills, lost wages, and much more. Working with a San Jose dog bite attorney is one of the best ways to navigate this complicated process.
Contact Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP for a Free Consultation Today
Our San Jose law firm offers free consultations for victims to connect with our legal team and learn more about their options for a dog bite case. Animal attacks are the responsibility of the dog’s owner, and we’ll fight to hold them accountable.
We will use this consultation as an opportunity to discuss the specific details of the animal attack and then provide you with specific advice and insights into your legal rights and options under California law. We will also explain our vast history of experience with dog bite cases, the way our law firm works, and the type of support you can expect as our client.
We understand how serious these cases can be, and our dog bite lawyers in San Jose are dedicated to helping victims get the compensation and the aggressive representation they deserve.
Read more below to learn more about dog bites, and contact our San Jose law firm right away to get started on your case today.
When Is a Dog Owner Liable After a Bite Happened?
Under California law, a dog owner has strict liability in the event of an animal bite in many situations. They are typically liable for damages if the dog bite happened in a public place, or if the victim suffered injuries while legally allowed onto the dog owner’s property. Pet owners are responsible for the animal’s actions even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.
Why You Should Hire a Dog Bite Attorney
When it comes to San Jose dog bite claims, working with an experienced attorney can be the difference between getting the money you deserve or walking away with a settlement that barely covers your current medical bills. Insurance companies work aggressively to resolve claims against their policyholders as quickly and inexpensively as possible and may resort to aggressive, intimidating tactics to reach that goal.
Those who are not familiar with personal injury laws are understandably overwhelmed by the complex legal terms and documents that the insurer floods them with, especially while they are trying to recover from their serious injuries. Our experienced attorney can handle the entire process on your behalf.
Dog bite lawyers know the information they are looking for to build a strong dog bite claim. They can handle the entirety of your investigation while you are focusing on your recovery. This will include evidence of fault on behalf of the dog owner, as well as gathering evidence of the damages you have suffered.
- Medical Implications
- Plastic Surgery
- Tissue Injury
- Mental, Emotional and Psychological Injuries
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS or RSD)
Once your attorney gathers evidence of the damages you have suffered, they will calculate and then recommend the dollar amount they believe you are owed as fair compensation. Your attorney, while acting on your behalf, will then begin the negotiation process with the insurance company or defense attorney.
Insurance companies may offer monetary compensation for immediate damages like property damage, current medical expenses, and lost wages, but will work to avoid paying additional compensation for future expenses and losses, as well as non-economic damages like pain and suffering — which you are absolutely entitled to.
Understanding When to Settle and When to File a Lawsuit
Many times, one may consider a settlement that may be a bit lower than the total amount of compensation your attorney has determined you have suffered. By avoiding filing a lawsuit and taking your case to court, you can avoid leaving your case up to a judge or jury while still receiving a fair settlement.
However, there are instances where the insurer refuses to make a reasonable agreement, or your attorney may believe that your case is a good candidate for punitive damages, each of which may be a good reason to move forward with a lawsuit so that you obtain full justice.
Understanding Damages in a Dog Bite Case
After a dog attack, there are countless impacts on a victim’s life — all of which an experienced personal injury lawyer in San Jose can determine and negotiate for as they seek fair compensation on your behalf.
Personal injury cases are based on compensatory damages — that is, damages that are meant to compensate for the losses that a victim has suffered. Compensatory damages are divided into two distinct categories: economic and non-economic damages. Each of these categories is equally important but vastly different in terms of calculation methods.
Economic damages are the basis of a personal injury case. These damages apply to anything that causes financially-measurable impacts — essentially, anything that has a dollar value. These include things like past and future medical expenses, lost wages, the cost of services that the victim could do on their own prior to the dog bite, the cost of property damages, and more.
These damages are sought as 1:1, meaning that there are no options to add additional damages beyond what can be proven through doctor’s records, medical invoices, income statements, receipts, and other tangible documentation. Your attorney will also seek compensation for any projected future losses and costs, such as ongoing medical care and long-term impacts on a victim’s ability to earn an income.
Non-economic damages apply to intangible impacts of a dog attack, like pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, permanent disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of quality of life, and more.
As you can imagine, trying to apply a dollar value to something as subjective as mental anguish is complex, and insurance companies will try to use this complexity to their advantage as they work to settle your case as inexpensively as possible or attempt to avoid liability altogether.
Your attorney has a number of tools available that will help them determine damages appropriately to defend the intangible impacts of your dog bite injuries and traumatic experience through negotiations with the insurer or in front of a judge and jury.