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Riverside Dog Bite Attorneys

Number1Award2019Pet-friendly Riverside is home to countless canine companions, and a fantastic community for dog-lovers. Until a dog bites you or a loved one, you probably think of them as friendly, furry best friends. When you see a dog bite someone you know and love, however, it’s easy to see how the interactions between dogs, owners, and bystanders can result in the risk of serious injury.

While we also love our dogs at Gomez Trial Attorneys, we also understand that not all dogs are safe to expose to strangers or bystanders, and children in particular. Dog owners in Riverside must use care and caution to keep their companions from putting others at risk. When dog owners fail to do so, the associates at Gomez Trial Attorneys are ready to help victims hold negligent owners accountable.

When a Dog Attacks, It Intends to Cause Damage

Although their owners often dispute this, certain dog breeds have bad reputations for a reason. Differences in temperament or physiology result in companions that can place others at serious risk of injury, or even death, should the dog attack a bystander. When some dogs attack, they go for the face, neck, and other vulnerable body parts, sometimes inflicting serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries.

Victims attacked in this way often require emergency treatment, surgical repair, and scar revision. They incur high-dollar medical bills and some lose their incomes due to dog-bite related disabilities.

Owners often consider their dogs as a member of the family. California recently reinforced that idea with divorce-related Family Code changes. A dog or other pet is still considered property, but during a divorce, a judge must consider placing the dog in an environment that’s best suited for the pet’s care. While this somewhat humanizes a dog, it doesn’t take away its animal nature. Dogs can still attack, and when they do, their human owners are legally responsible.

Dog Owners Must Pay When Their Dogs Attack

At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have worked tirelessly to recover damages for innocent dog bite victims throughout Riverside. We acknowledge that dogs make loyal companions. To some people, they are valued family members. We respect dog owners’ rights, but we also believe that people have a right to safety. We’ve always confirmed that dog owners must acknowledge their pets’ animal natures, and be willing to pay for the damages they cause when proper care is not observed.

We have worked with people who have sustained severe injuries during a dog attack. We’ve seen the profound life changes caused by a single incident. As with any other injurious event, we’ve worked with injured victims and their families to recover damages on their behalf.

We understand that a settlement can’t transform an injured victim’s life back to normal. However, it provides financial support that helps them move beyond their injuries, and get back to a normal life as quickly as possible.

Our Firm’s Results

At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have always been committed to recovering damages for our injured clients. When possible, we have resolved our clients’ cases by negotiating with negligent parties, their insurance companies, and their defense attorneys. When we’ve seen that defendants were sincere in their desire to resolve our clients’ claims, we have continued our negotiations through mediation, settlement conferences, and other facilitated negotiation processes.

Our Riverside dog bite attorneys have always worked to produce results that would provide a fair outcome for our injured clients. When negligent parties would not negotiate fairly, our trial attorneys have resolved cases through litigation. We have filed lawsuits, conducted discovery, and presented our evidence to a judge and jury.

Our attorneys work passionately to produce the most positive results for our clients. While it’s impossible to promise specific outcomes, we nonetheless invite you to review our past case results. We believe they demonstrate a clear commitment to results for every client we represent.

How Dog Attacks and Bites Occur

As with most injuries, dog bites occur suddenly and without warning when a person comes close to a dangerous or aggressive dog. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that most dog bites are preventable. While this is likely true, many dog bite prevention strategies place responsibility on non-pet owners’ shoulders. The AVMA and other organizations offer a variety of recommendations designed to help people avoid dog attacks.

They recommend that potential victims should pay attention to a dog’s body language. They also recommend teaching children how to avoid risky situations with dogs.

This suggests, unfortunately, the unreasonable requirement that non-owners recognize a dog’s potential for an instinctive reaction based on their mental and emotional state.

  • Feeling stressed or scared
  • Defending their territory, puppies, food, or toys.
  • Feeling threatened or excited.
  • The object of rough human play

Dog Bite Statistics

An estimated 77 million dogs live with American families. While many dogs are friendly, all dogs nonetheless possess teeth and claws. As the American Veterinary Medical Association reminds us, all of them can bite.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Insurance Institute of America, and the AVMA offer these recent dog bite statistics.

  • CDC’s national Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) data shows that 344,202 people underwent emergency dog bite treatment during 2018. This statistic included 55,490 people aged 25 to 34; 50,370 people aged 15 to 34; and 87,070 children ages 0 to 14.
  • Nationally, dog bite claims increased from 17,297 in 2018 to 17,802 in 2019.
  • In 2019, California had 2,396 reported dog bite cases, the highest number of any state.
  • Children are more likely to sustain serious injuries than adults.

Dog Bites Injuries

When a dog bites, their teeth have the potential to cause extensive damage. Dog teeth easily tear human skin and cause puncture wounds deep into muscle tissue. When a dog refuses to let go of its victim, the damage usually increases. A bite sometimes allows a dog to pass diseases to their victims. These sometimes include MRSA, rabies, capnocytophaga, and tetanus. An Archives of Plastic Surgery article published by the National Institutes of Health described how dogs sometimes transfer an infection that causes osteomyelitis in their human victims.

Children and Dog Bites

Riverside’s youngest citizens are most vulnerable to dog attacks. A child’s small stature places them on the dog’s level. When a dog attacks, this gives them easy access to a child’s face, neck, and other crucial areas. A dog’s teeth easily puncture a child’s skin, penetrate their muscle, and damage their bones. When a dog passes on bacteria, often a young child’s immature immune system can’t fight it.

Older Adults and Dog Bites

Older victims deal with the same issues as young children. As they manifest signs of aging, their skins, bones, and muscles are more easily damaged. Older adults also have trouble fighting off bacterial diseases due to their aging immune systems.

Mail Carriers and Dog Bites

Dog bites are also a serious concern for the United States Postal Service. Mail carriers are often vulnerable as they encounter dogs while delivering mail in residential neighborhoods. The problem is so pervasive, the USPS publishes a National Dog Attack Ranking report each year. With 777 mail carrier attacks during 2019, California is number one on the list of states with the most dog attacks. Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, and Sacramento made the Top 20 Cities list.

Scarring is a problem for victims of all age ranges. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons documented 28,384 reconstructive dog repair surgeries.

When a dog bites, they often cause a wide variety of injuries and medical conditions.

  • Severe lacerations
  • Puncture wounds
  • Fractures
  • Skin, muscle, and tissue damage
  • Rabies, MRSA, Tetanus, Pasteurella, and other infectious diseases
  • Permanent scars
  • Death

What Damages Can You Recover For a Dog Bite Injury?

A dog bite injury settlement or judgment usually includes financial consideration for Economic Damages and General Damages. When an attorney tries a dog bite case, the court award may also sometimes include punitive damages.

Economic Damages

We calculate our clients’ economic damage claims based on incurred and estimated future out-of-pocket expenses.

Economic damages include these and other expenses.

  • Emergency treatment
  • Hospital care
  • Surgical costs
  • Scar revision costs
  • Income losses
  • Medication
  • Medical expenses
  • Mobility devices and prosthesis
  • Physical and psychological therapy
  • Transportation expenses
  • Replacement services
  • Funeral and burial expenses

General Damages

General damages often include recovery for an injured person’s physical pain, emotional and psychological damages, and other subjective injuries.

They often include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Anxiety and distress
  • Diminished spousal and family relationship
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Scars and disfigurement
  • Permanent limitations and disabilities
  • Loss of bodily functions

Exemplary Damages

In California, a jury award sometimes includes exemplary damages (or punitive damages) intended to punish a defendant for wanton misconduct. The plaintiff must produce clear and convincing evidence demonstrating that the defendant acted out of malice, oppression, or fraud.

Who Is Responsible When a Dog Bites You?

A dog’s human owner is responsible for the damages the dog causes. In California, the law is straightforward. California Civil Code makes owners strictly liable for their dog’s actions. The owner owes for damages as long as the injured party is “lawfully upon the private property” or in public. Strict liability does not apply to a dog that is acting on behalf of a government entity such as a police department.

Can a Dog Owner Avoid Paying for the Damages Their Dog Causes?

In most situations, dog owners are strictly liable for the injuries their dog causes. If they have liability coverage, their insurance company usually handles the claim on their behalf. Due to California’s strict liability laws, defendants and insurers usually have minimal defenses. Once a plaintiff files a lawsuit, they are often difficult to defend against.

That doesn’t prevent insurers from relying on some of the same claim-reduction strategies they use with other cases, such as:

  • Low settlement offers
  • Negotiation so unfair it pushes plaintiffs to file suit and incur discovery costs
  • Disputing damages to reduce claim payouts
  • Alleging that a defendant was a trespasser on their property

At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we’ve resolved many cases with responsible parties, their insurers, and their defense attorneys. We’ve found that preparation was the best way to overcome their defenses. We have always evaluated the evidence and used our resources to plan and present a case that delivered the best possible outcomes.

What if the Dog Owner Has No Liability Coverage?

Many dog owners no longer have access to liability insurance. Given the high cost of dog bite claims, more companies that underwrite homeowners, apartment owners, and commercial policies are finding ways to avoid coverage. Some companies still provide traditional package policies that include coverage for a dog’s actions.

Others increase premiums or rely on other strategies to limit or eliminate their dog bite liability exposure.

  • Refuse to insure homes for families who own dogs
  • Exclude coverage for all dog liability claims
  • Exclude coverage for certain breeds of dogs
  • Allow dog owners to pay an extra premium for a dog liability endorsement.
  • Sell a separate dog liability policy
  • Exclude dog bite coverage if a family’s dog has a history of attacks

When a dog bites you and the owner doesn’t have coverage, you still have options for recovering your damages. The owner may negotiate your claim and pay a cash settlement from his or her own resources. You can also file a suit, pursue a judgment, and attempt to collect the money from the responsible party. If the defendant refuses to pay, you will at least have a court order saying that he or she owes you money; your Riverside attorney can help you understand the best ways to collect on a judgment in this manner.

Get Help From Our Riverside Dog Bite Attorneys

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If a dog injured you or your loved one, we want to hear your story. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have worked tirelessly to recover damages for our Riverside neighbors injured in dog attacks. Let us determine if we can help you: Call us at (619) 237-3490 or complete our contact form online to schedule a free consultation.

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