Dog owners in California can be held liable for injuries, damages and losses their pets cause. The state's strict liability statute states that dog owners are financially responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the injuries occur on public or private property or whether or not the dog has had prior history of aggression.
Dog bite victims are entitled to different types of compensation. There is no question that dog bites result not only in physical injuries, but also emotional and psychological injuries. Like any other traumatic injury, dog bite injuries can have devastating physical, emotional and financial consequences. Those injured from a dog attack are well advised to speak with an attorney who can help file a dog bite lawsuit.
Compensatory Damages in Dog Bite Cases
Injured victims of dog attacks can receive two types of compensatory damages:
Economic damages are intended to compensate injured victims for their out-of-pocket expenses. These are quantifiable damages that often include the following:
Medical expenses: You can seek reimbursement for the medical expenses you incur as the result of a dog bite. These expenses may include emergency room costs, hospitalization, surgeries, doctor's office visits, rehabilitation, cost of medications, psychological therapy and so on.
Lost wages: When you have been seriously injured in a dog attack, you must take time off to recover from the injuries. In such cases, your settlement must include wages lost because of the time you could not work as you were healing. The value of a dog bite settlement should also include lost vacation or sick time, commissions, bonuses and other benefits you lost as a result of your injuries.
Lost earning capacity: If you had to change jobs or became permanently disabled as a result of your dog bite injuries, you may be entitled to receive compensation for lost earning capacity, which should include wages and benefits you should have earned throughout your lifetime. These calculations can be challenging, but an experienced dog bite attorney will be able to determine the value of your claim.
Non-economic damages are those that are not as easily quantifiable as economic damages. The purpose of non-economic damages is to compensate victims not just for physical injuries, but also emotional and psychological trauma. Examples of non-economic damages include:
Scarring and disfigurement
Loss of life's enjoyment
Loss of consortium
Punitive damages are rarely awarded in dog bite cases. However, in some scenarios punitive damages may be awarded to victims to punish the dog owner for negligence that is particularly egregious. In such cases, plaintiffs must clearly prove that the dog owner's behavior was reckless, negligent and intentional. Examples include owners who were well aware of their dogs' aggressive tendencies and still allowed the animals to roam unleashed in the community. To learn more about compensation you might receive for a dog bite claim, read our article on how much can I sue for a dog bite.
How to Maximize Your Compensation in a Dog Bite Case
There are a number of steps you can take to maximize your compensation in a dog bite case:
Take photos and videos. You can shoot cell phone photos and videos showing the scene where the dog attack occurred. Having photos and videos of the dog, the injuries inflicted and the surroundings could be extremely helpful in substantiating various aspects of your claim. The sooner you collect this evidence from the scene, the better it is for your claim. For example, if the dogs escaped through a broken fence, you need to get a photo of the broken fence before the dog owner repairs it. If you are unable to get such crucial evidence right away, ask a family member or friend to help you. Your dog bite lawyer can also help you gather key evidence as soon as possible.
Save all bills and receipts. Keep all bills and receipts relating to medical expenses and other costs incurred as a result of the dog bite incident. This paper trail will help prove that you did suffer injuries and sought medical treatment.
Maintain a journal. Make a note of events as they are fresh in your memory. Write about how your life is different after the dog bite incident. Make a note of things you are unable to do as a result of the injury and how your life has changed or has been adversely affected.
How Can a Dog Bite Attorney Help?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog attack, you need an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles dog bite lawyer who can help evaluate the types of compensation you are entitled to receive. A resourceful injury lawyer who has knowledge of local dog bite laws will be able to help you receive maximum compensation for all your injuries, damages and losses.
At the Vaziri Law Group, APC our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not have to pay any costs or fees unless we win compensation for you. Call us today to schedule a no-cost consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.