What to Do After a Dog Bites – Legal Options
The statistics on dog attacks in America are scary. Each year the number of innocent children and adults seriously injured or killed by dogs in the United States increases dramatically. The types of dogs that people purchase accounts for this dramatic increase. More and more individuals are the “proud owners” of Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. These dogs are involved in an extremely high percentage of the serious dog bite cases that occur every day.
The types of injuries these animals can inflict are horrific. Pit bulls in particular have the ability to lock its jaw shut like an alligator resulting in severe tissue loss, broken bones, disfigurement, nerve damage and amputation, to name just a few of the injuries.
California Law states that the owner of the dog is “strictly liable” for all injuries relating to bites inflicted by their dog. This means that the owner is legally responsible even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and appeared to be even friendlier than Lassie. The first thing that a dog bite victim needs to do, after being properly treated by medical personnel, is to seek the assistance of an attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases.
If the owner of the dog owns a home, chances are he/she has homeowners insurance that covers the owner for dog bites inflicted by the owner’s dog. Your attorney needs to immediately obtain this information and determine the extent of the insured’s policy limits, information which the insured and his/her company rarely divulge. Your attorney knows how to obtain this information despite their obstructive tactics, thereby setting the case up for where it needs go. He then needs to among other things, get a copy of the “bite report”, quarantine report, as well as pictures of the offending dog before it is euthanized.
Unfortunately, many homeowners’ insurance policies today have “exclusion clauses” in the policies which limit coverage if the insured has a pit bull or some other “dangerous” dog on the premises. Your attorney needs to identify this problem, along with any other coverage issues, and do what he can to nullify them, if possible.
Many dog owners have insufficient coverage to compensate severely injured dog bite victims. It is therefore essential that your attorney immediately do an asset check on the dog owner to see if he/she has assets in excess of the insurance policy to adequately compensate the dog bite victim and to insure that the dog owner does not start hiding assets. If that happens your attorney needs to immediately file the appropriate motions to freeze assets and assert fraudulent transfers of the defendant’s property.
A dog bite victim is entitled to recover for all of his/her special damages, including, but not limited to, past and future medical bills, past and future lost earnings, as well as pain and suffering. If the bite leaves a permanent scar then monetary compensation should be awarded for that as well. If you or your child is ever the unfortunate victim of a dog bite attack it is essential that you obtain quality legal assistance as soon as you are physically able to do so to preserve your right to adequate and fair compensation for these injuries.