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San Diego Dog Bite Attorneys

Dog Biting

San Diego is an extremely dog-friendly city. You will find dogs and their owners soaking up the City’s sunny weather all over town from Ocean Beach’s dog beach to dog-friendly restaurants in Little Italy.

While most dogs are well-behaved furry friends, not all are. Due to the sheer number of dogs in San Diego, dog bites are common. When they occur, the victim is left with physical and often, emotional injuries.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a dog, a San Diego dog bite attorney can help you recover compensation for the harm suffered. Gomez Trial Attorneys is a leading San Diego personal injury law firm that handles dog bite cases. In a fifteen-year period, we have obtained more than $750 million in compensation for clients suffering injuries, including animal attacks. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

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Dog Bites Are a Common Cause of Injuries in San Diego

Dog Bite Statistics

Thirty-eight percent—slightly more than 40 million—households in the United States own a dog, and about half a million dogs live in San Diego County alone. Dog owners are responsible for keeping others safe from their pets.

Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year, making it a relatively common injury. Each year, approximately 800,000 people suffer from dog bites serious enough to require medical attention. California frequently tops State Farm’s annual dog bite statistics report as the number one state for dog-related claims. San Diego County Animal Services investigates around 6,000 dog attack reports  each year.

Fortunately, most bites are not serious, and your chances of dying from a dog bite are low. However, serious dog bite injuries do occur and are emotionally and financially taxing. In 2021 alone, a single insurance provider, State Farm, paid out $23 million for dog-related injuries in California and $161.7 million nationally.

Where Dog Bites Occur in San Diego

According to San Diego County Animal Services, the areas that have the most dog bites include:

  • The City Heights and Encanto neighborhoods, with 94 bites each in one year.
  • The 92102 ZIP code, which includes the Golden Hill neighborhood, with 86 bites reported.

An animal services spokesperson noted that the prevalence of dog bites in these areas stems from their urban characteristics, which lead to increased opportunities for interactions between dogs and people. The majority of dog bites occur either at home or when the dog is off-leash.

Dog bites occur most often when the victim plays or interacts with the dog. It stands to reason, then, that an increased number of homes or off-leash dog parks in an area would lead to larger numbers of reported bites. In San Diego, the dog breeds most commonly associated with reported dog bites include Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Chihuahuas.

San Diego Postal Workers at Risk of Dog Bites

San Diego postal workers face a particularly high risk of suffering a dog bite. According to a recent report, San Diego tied Detroit for the 10th most common place for a dog to bite a postal worker, with 35 reports of dogs attacking postal workers in the city in a year. California leads the country for most postal worker dog attacks.

Some reasons dogs commonly bite postal carriers include:

  • Dogs want to protect their territories and often perceive the arrival of an unfamiliar postal carrier as a threat.
  • Residents often encourage their small children to take the mail from the postal worker’s hand in the presence of the dog, which it may further interpret as a threat.
  • The postal worker may assume that an electronic fence contains a restrained dog in the front yard, only to discover that the dog actually has no restraints and thus can reach the postal worker easily.
  • Failure of the resident to properly secure the dog during regular mail delivery times.

What To Do After a Dog Bite in San Diego

I Was Just Bitten by a Dog in San Diego. What Should I Do?

If you or someone else is in immediate danger of being injured or killed by a dog, or you need emergency medical attention, call 911. If the medical need is not urgent, obtain the dog owner’s contact information, get witnesses’ contact information, and photograph your wounds.

Immediately after being bitten by a dog,  wash the wound thoroughly and seek medical attention if the bite has broken the skin. The biggest concern with dog bites is often the wound becoming infected.  If it has been five years since your last tetanus shot, your healthcare provider will likely administer another one as tetanus can result from dog bites and can be life-threatening.

Once you have treated the wound, report the bite to the San Diego County Animal Services, which coordinates services with the City and County. While it is technically the owner’s responsibility to report the bite, you may report it and so can your doctor. Additionally, speak with an attorney about recovering compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury.

How Can I Prevent the Dog From Attacking Again?

The only way to ensure a dog will not attack someone again is by preventing him from interacting with people. If you or someone you love has been injured in this manner, you should make sure that the dog is reported. Dogs that meet certain requirements are usually classified as “dangerous dogs” by San Diego County Animal Services. A dog deemed dangerous is typically restricted from interacting with people.

California Dog Owners’ Responsibility for Dog Bites

Is a San Diego Dog’s Owner Always to Blame if a Dog Bites Someone?

Usually, but not always. In California, dog owners are usually subject to strict liability for dog bites. Strict liability means that the owner is legally responsible for the dog bite, even if they were not negligent. In other words, dog owners are held responsible even if they had no reason to know their dog would bite.

There are a few exceptions to strict liability. Under California law, a dog owner is not liable for injuries caused to a person by their dog if:

  • The victim was injured while unlawfully on the dog owner’s property.
  • The bite occurred while the dog was protecting a peace officer or another person.
  • The dog was performing work for the police or military, and the bite occurred during the scope of that work.

What Is San Diego’s One-Bite Rule and How Does It Apply to My Case?

The “one bite” or “one-free bite” rule no longer applies in San Diego, California. The one-bite rule was an old California rule that provided that if a dog had never exhibited any dangerous behavior, the dog owner would not generally be liable the first time their dog bit someone. This rule is no longer in effect in California. Instead, California holds dog owners strictly liable if their dog bites.

Other Responsible Parties

It is possible that, in addition to the owner, other parties are also responsible for a San Diego dog bite. For example, an apartment complex may bear some legal responsibility for a dog bite on its premises. An employer may also bear some legal responsibility if a dog bite occurs while the victim is on the job at work.

An experienced San Diego dog bite lawyer, like the ones at Gomez Trial Attorneys, can determine who may be legally liable for your dog bite as well as the best strategy for pursuing compensation.

San Diego Dog Bite FAQs

If you or your child have been bitten by a dog in San Diego, you probably have some questions. The following are answers to the most common questions our San Diego dog bite attorneys hear that have not already been answered above.

Can You Sue Someone if Their Dog Bites You in California?

Yes, you can bring a civil action against someone if their dog bites you. Under California’s strict liability principles, to prevail on a San Diego dog bite claim against a dog owner, the victim needs to prove that (1) the defendant owned the dog, (2) the bite occurred on public property or on private property where the victim was legally present, and (3) that the victim suffered injuries.

Since many dog owners do not have sufficient personal assets to easily pay for your dog bite injuries out-of-pocket, in most dog bite personal injury cases, the compensation will be paid by an insurance provider. A dog bite lawyer can help determine what insurance policies may provide coverage for your dog bite. An attorney can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and possibly settle the case without going to trial.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit in San Diego After a Dog Bite?

The statute of limitations, or deadline, for a San Diego dog bite claim, is governed by California law which generally allows two years from the date of the injury to file lawsuit. There are limited circumstances where this statutory deadline can be extended. Your attorney will let you know if your case qualifies for an extension.

How Much Is a Dog Bite Lawsuit Worth in California?

Compensation from a dog bite lawsuit in California depends on the case. The more harm the victim suffers (or damages), the greater the amount of compensation they are likely to recover.

Estimates place the average settlement for California dog bites around $50,000 to $59,000. However, in cases involving serious injuries or death, compensation from settlements or verdicts in dog bite claims can reach and even exceed $1 million.

Since each case is unique, if you have been injured from a dog bite, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys to have an attorney at our firm provide you with a free case evaluation.

Who Compensates a Person for a Dog Bite Injury In San Diego?

While owners are usually liable, compensation is usually paid through one or more of their insurance policies. The majority of dog bite compensation is paid through the homeowners or renters insurance policy of the dog’s owner, up to the limits of the policy, which is generally between $100,000 to $300,000. Dog bite claims cost homeowners insurers around $797 million a year, and those costs are reportedly increasing.

Dog owners are strongly encouraged to read the language of their policy and to call their insurance provider if they still have questions because the law doesn’t require insurance companies to include dog bite liability in their coverage. Some insurance companies refuse to cover certain breeds of dogs that pose a higher risk of causing serious injury through bites, such as pit bulls.

While you likely won’t be asked what breed your dog is when you obtain your policy, if the dog bites someone, the insurance company is likely to seek to limit its losses by placing provisions on the coverage, such as a waiver of liability for dog bites.

I Am Going to Need Surgery In The Future To Repair Scarring From A San Diego Dog Bite. Can I Get Compensation for That?

Yes. California allows dog bite victims to pursue compensation for all medical expenses related to the bite injury, including those that the individual will need in the future.

Can I File a Claim if I Was Bitten by a Dog at a San Diego Dog Park?

Generally, yes. The City of San Diego allows dogs to be off leash at any of the city’s designated dog parks. However, dog parks are not immune from dog park liability laws. Owners remain strictly liable for dog bites and may be liable under negligence principles for other harm caused by their dog in a dog park.

What Should I Do if My Friend’s Dog Bit Me and They Are Urging Me Not To Get Medical Attention?

You should always seek medical attention after a dog bite. Dog bites have a high risk of infections that can result in serious illness or even death. Your friend likely does not want to report the dog bite to their homeowners’ insurance or doesn’t understand that this is what pays most dog bite claims. In addition to removing your right to seek compensation, failing to report a vicious animal also leaves others vulnerable to injury if the dog decides to bite again.

My Child Was Knocked Down by a Dog and Injured in San Diego but Not Bitten. Would the Process of Obtaining Compensation Be the Same?

The process of obtaining compensation will be similar, but what you will need to prove will be different. California’s strict liability dog bite laws only apply to actual bites, not other injuries caused by the dog. However, a dog owner has a responsibility to ensure that individuals are not injured by their dog, and even if your child was not bitten, you can likely file a San Diego dog bite claim based on negligence.

What Are the Consequences When Someone in San Diego’s Dog Bites Someone?

In San Diego County, if a dog bites someone, the following consequences can be imposed.

  • The bite must be reported to the humane society, and the dog will be required to quarantine for 10 days. The location of this quarantine is at the discretion of the county’s animal services department. Sometimes, the dog will be permitted to quarantine at home, particularly if it is the first time the dog has bitten someone. The owner can prove that they have a secure enclosure that will effectively isolate the dog from people for a full 10 days. This quarantine is mandatory even if the dog’s owner has proof that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies.
  • Failing to keep the dog impounded for the full 10 days after a bite can result in the dog owner being charged with a misdemeanor and assigned the applicable fines for that violation.
  • The dog can be deemed a public nuisance animal or a dangerous dog. The public nuisance animal designation applies to animals whose owners repeatedly violate local and state animal ordinances and that have killed an animal. A dangerous dog has attacked or bitten two people within 48 months and has bitten a person seriously enough to cause substantial injury or death. This designation comes after an investigation. The dog owner has the right to request a hearing to appeal the designation.
  • If the dog obtains one of the designations mentioned above, the animal services department can choose to euthanize it or to impose other protections, such as requiring the owner to purchase liability insurance for the dog; requiring the owner to build or purchase a specified type of fencing, restraint, or muzzling; requiring the owner to have the animal microchipped and photographed for easy identification if there are further problems; altering the dog through spaying or neutering, or requiring the owner to obtain a special permit to keep it.

Do I Really Need an Attorney for my San Diego Dog Bite Claim?

Yes. Suppose your dog bite resulted in an injury that required medical treatment and caused you to miss work or to incur other expenses. In that case, you need an attorney with experience in the San Diego dog bite claims process who can guide you as to your legal options.

Some of the services Gomez Trial Attorneys provide in San Diego dog bite cases include:

  • Determination of the liable party and applicable insurance policies that you may access to provide compensation. As with other types of personal injury cases, in the vast majority of dog bite cases, insurance will pay out any compensation. Most dog owners cannot easily afford to pay for someone’s injury expenses out-of-pocket. Generally, a homeowner or renter’s policy will cover dog bite injuries.
  • Establishing a case value, which your attorney will base on the expenses and psychological impacts you have already incurred as well as those you will likely experience in the future as a result of your injury.
  • Skilled negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to garner a fair settlement offer. We should note that settlement negotiations begin with an initial demand package from your attorney to the insurance provider that presents the details of the case and information about the expenses and impact on your life. Negotiations can continue until either both parties reach a settlement or you take your case to court, and it renders a decision.
  • Timely filing of your dog bite lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction, attendance, and representation at all pre-trial conferences and hearings. In California, injured individuals generally must file their dog bite lawsuits in court within two years of the date on which the dog bite injury occurred.
  • The collection of evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your case in court.
  • Litigation, if settlement proves unviable. Unlike some other law firms, Gomez Trial Attorneys is not afraid to take a case to trial if needed, and our legal team has a track record of obtaining successful trial outcomes in personal injury cases.
  • Assistance collecting your settlement or award.

Do You Need a San Diego Dog Bite Attorney?

John Gomez

John Gomez, Dog Bite Attorney

If you are looking for a dog bite attorney in San Diego, Gomez Trial Attorneys is here for you. Let our experienced San Diego dog bite lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys answer the questions you have about your San Diego dog bite case. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at 866-TRIAL LAW (866-874-2552) today for your free dog bite case evaluation.

Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619)-237-3490

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