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El Centro Dog Bite Attorneys

We love our dogs in El Centro. We bring them to the Woof Town dog park to socialize, and several local restaurants even welcome them.

Occasionally, however, a negligent dog owner lets his pet run free or fails to properly train, supervise, or secure it. Abusive owners and irresponsible breeders can make dogs dangerous or even vicious. When this happens, dogs can quickly maul a person, especially a young child, causing severe and even permanent injuries.

If you or a loved one suffer a dog bite in El Centro, you may have the right to receive substantial financial compensation. Call the experienced El Centro dog bite lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys for a free case consultation to learn about your rights.

About Gomez Trial Attorneys and Our El Centro Dog Bite Lawyers

Gomez Trial Attorneys is the go-to law firm in El Centro and across the Imperial Valley for victims of personal injuries who deserve to receive financial compensation from someone who did them harm. Our dedicated, caring El Centro dog bite lawyers commit their careers to the mission of holding individuals, companies, and government agencies accountable for their wrongful actions.

We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients in a wide range of cases, including matters resulting from dog bite injuries. We know how traumatizing a severe dog bite injury can feel, especially for child victims, and we take care to give our dog bite injury clients the personal attention and commitment they deserve.

California Dog Bite Law Enforces Strict Liability on Owners

California’s laws on dog bites are some of the strictest in the country in protecting dog bite victims and holding dog owners accountable.

In California, dog owners have strict liability for any bite their dog inflicts on a person who was either in a public place or lawfully on private property. Strict liability means that the owner is legally and financially responsible for the bite and any damages (injuries and other harm) the bite caused.

California’s law on dog bites differs from that of many states, in which the owner is liable for a dog bite only if the dog had previously bitten someone or was known as dangerous in other ways (such as an attack or knocking someone down). In California, you do not have to prove that the dog had a history of acting dangerously or aggressively to hold its owner legally and financially responsible for your injuries.

What “Lawfully on Private Property” Means

You are lawfully on someone’s private property in El Centro if you were invited to it. The owner or a family member or friend can invite you formally, such as sending you an invitation to a birthday party or anniversary celebration. Or the invitation can be informal, such as a neighbor waving you over to come talk to him as you walk past his lawn on the sidewalk. An invitation can even be implied, meaning you had a reasonable expectation of permission to set foot on someone else’s property, usually because of a longstanding course of conduct or through a close relationship.

People performing their jobs on private property are also there legally. For example, mail carriers, for example, have the legal right to walk onto your property to deliver mail, as does the plumber you called to come fix your leaky kitchen faucet.

Exceptions to the Strict Liability Law

California’s law on dog bites has a few exceptions, as you might expect. Here are two common ones that could affect your legal rights. Never assume, however, that you have no rights just because you suffered a dog bite injury in one of the following scenarios. You may still be entitled to significant compensation. Contact the El Centro personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today to learn more.

Law Enforcement Dogs

Police and military dogs are usually exempt from strict liability. If either a police dog or a military dog bites you in the line of the animal’s duty or responds to provocative or annoying behavior on your part, the owners (that is, the government) do not automatically bear strict liability for your injuries (although they could bear liability if other factors are present).

Adult Trespassers (but Not Children)

Adults who are not legally on a property do not have protection under California’s strict liability law. Children, however, do have the protection of the strict liability law, even when trespassing, because they are not held to the same legal standards as adults.

Dog Bites Cause Serious Injuries

Dog bites occur far too frequently in El Centro and throughout Southern California. In one year, as many as 800,000 people nationwide suffer dog bite injuries severe enough to warrant medical treatment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In one 15-year period, in fact, dog bites caused 279 deaths across the country.

Never dismiss a dog bite as a minor injury! While a dog bite may result in nothing more than a fright, major injury and even death can result from a dog bite, particularly bites involving child victims.

Severe injuries resulting from dog bites commonly include:

  • Lacerations (deep cuts) and puncture wounds;
  • Infection, including infectious diseases;
  • Facial injuries, including loss of eyesight;
  • Scarring and disfigurement;
  • Tissue injuries (torn muscles, tendons, ligaments);
  • Dangerous blood loss;
  • Broken bones; and
  • Organ damage.

Animal attacks can also cause serious secondary injuries, such as those suffered when a dog knocks someone down. Traumatic brain injury, which includes so-called minor concussions, can easily follow from a dog attack when the victim falls and takes a blow or jolt to the head.

No matter how a dog’s actions injure an El Centro resident, worker, or visitor, Gomez Trial Attorneys has the skill and resources to obtain compensation the victim deserves.

Compensation for El Centro Dog Bite Injuries

San Diego car accident lawyersVictims of a dog bite or attack deserve financial compensation under California law, and the team at Gomez Trial Attorneys has the experience and resources to help them get it.

The compensation dog attack victims might receive varies widely depending on the circumstances of the incident and the severity of the injuries, so we cannot promise any client will receive a specific type or amount of damages.

However, as a general matter, our clients in El Centro who have suffered a dog bite injury often have the right to receive payment for:

  • Medical expenses, both already incurred and expected in the future, including for co-pays, deductibles, doctor’s appointments, emergency care and ambulance transport, surgery, physical therapy, hospitalization, long-term care stays, reconstructive (plastic) surgery, and medication
  • Wages lost because a victim (or child victim’s parent) missed work because of the attack and its resulting injury. Victims who lose the ability to work in the future because of a dog bite injury may also seek compensation for their future lost wages.
  • Pain and suffering tied to the dog attack, including the physical pain of the injury, the emotional trauma of living through an attack, and the difficulty that can come from living with disfigurement the dog bite caused.
  • Punitive (or exemplary) damages, which courts sometimes impose in instances of outrageous conduct by a dog owner.

Other Dog Attack Injuries Deserve Compensation, Too

Dogs can attack or cause harm in ways without biting someone. A dog can knock someone down by leaping on them, for instance. Their nails alone can cause harm. An attack like this can severely injure or even kill a child, especially a small one. Aggressive dogs can also knock cyclists down, causing serious harm.

California’s strict liability law covers only bites. But that doesn’t mean people harmed by an aggressive dog who does not bite them have no rights.

In cases where a Californian suffers injuries due to another type of dog (or any other animal) attack, the victim can still recover compensation by showing that the attack happened because of the owner’s negligence.

Negligence is a legal concept common in El Centro dog bite cases. It means a failure to exercise the same duty of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. Or, to put it another way, it means someone acting in an unreasonably dangerous way that puts someone else in harm’s way.

For example, a reasonably prudent dog owner should restrain or kennel an aggressive dog so that it does not attack and injure someone. We say that the owner’s failure to take those reasonable measures to keep others safe from a dog constitutes negligence and makes the owner legally liable to compensate anyone the dog injures in an attack.

So, even if a dog did not technically bite you, you may still have the right to substantial compensation for your injuries. Contact the team at Gomez Trial Attorneys to learn more.

Officially Dangerous Dogs

Unfortunately, some dogs show a propensity to attack people. California’s legislators have responded to potential danger from dangerous repeat offender dogs by passing several other laws that define when a dog is dangerous and impose penalties for their attacks.

If a dog bites a human twice (on separate occasions), any citizen can bring a civil case against the owner. If a trained attack dog causes serious injury, even with one bite, any citizen can bring a civil case against the owner as well.

The case may result in civil court’s requiring physical geographic removal of the dog or humane euthanasia of the dog, as well as a legal liability on the part of the owner for any injuries the dog caused. Talk to the lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today if a dog with a dangerous reputation harmed you.

The Role of Animal Control

El Centro and Imperial County animal control officers play a role in ensuring everyone’s safety around dangerous dogs. An officer who thinks a dog is a threat can ask for a court hearing to determine whether the dog should be designated as dangerous, and if the owner should be required to keep the animal on a secure leash, keep it indoors, or restrain it behind a secure fence. Owners who don’t comply face fines and removal of the dog.

Dangerous dogs may have committed one or more of the following.

  • Aggressive behavior in public places that required people to defend themselves. Dogs deemed dangerous must have done this at least twice (in separate incidents) within a three-year period.
  • Bitten a human without provocation, causing a non-severe injury
  • Killed or injured a domestic animal two times within a three-year period

Potentially vicious dogs are defined as:

  • One that aggressively injures or kills a human without provocation
  • One that repeated dangerous behavior (determined by a court) or whose owner didn’t follow the previous legal stipulations required by the court

Steps to Take After a Dog Attack

If you or a loved one is bitten or attacked by a dog, your first priority is health and safety. Stay calm and move (or move a loved one) to a safe place. Note that this may not mean running away from the dog. Dogs sometimes interpret running as an invitation to chase after the person (or object, such as a bicycle or even a car).

The same is true of actions that the dog can interpret as attempts to harm him or her, such as using your hands to shove the animal away or striking it. These actions can result in more injury and harm to you.

Instead, get to a safe place where the dog can’t reach you. Go into a house or behind a door, a fence, or other object, as quickly as possible. Your priority is to seek safety from further injuries.

If the bite caused an injury (broke skin, caused bleeding), seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Call 911 or go to the emergency room if necessary.

If you can’t access medical attention right away, wash any cuts, bites, and scratches thoroughly with soap and water. Then, seek medical attention as soon as you can. Never go without medical attention for any dog bite.

Next, get the dog owner’s contact information. You or your doctor may call the owner to find out if the dog has received all appropriate vaccinations and other shots. If it hasn’t, or if the vaccination and vet record is unclear, follow your doctor’s advice. Unvaccinated animals can pass on dangerous diseases, such as rabies. Rabies kills approximately 59,000 people annually worldwide.

What if you’re attacked by a dog but aren’t sure who the owner is? Call the Animal Control Services division of the El Centro Police Department at (760) 352-2111. If you’re in an unincorporated area, contact Imperial County’s Animal Care and Control Program (ACCP). Animal control officers possess multiple ways of determining a dog’s owner.

Separately, it’s a good idea to file a report with animal control if you’re bitten or attacked by a dog, for several reasons. First, California’s laws on dangerous and vicious dogs require proof that a dog attacked someone previously. A report provides a public record. Second, a report helps to prove your case when you seek damages. Our El Centro dog bite lawyers can help you with these tasks.

Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers in El Centro

If you or a loved one suffers injury in a dog bite or dog attack in El Centro, then Gomez Trial Attorneys wants to hear from you. Contact our experienced El Centro dog bite lawyers today or call us now at (619) 237-3490 for a free case consultation about your rights to financial compensation.

Review: 5/5
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

“I know firsthand that Gomez Trial Attorneys is a professional and compassionate law firm. The entire office is a family and they treat their clients like family as well – these people truly care. Not only that, but they strive to make a positive difference in the community through their outreach efforts. Highly recommend.

Gomez Trial Attorneys
2299 West Adams Avenue, Suite 102
El Centro, CA 92243

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