Solana Beach Dog Bite Attorneys
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Solana Beach Dog Bite Attorneys
You are out for an evening walk in your neighborhood, and out of nowhere a dog comes at you, knocks you to the ground, and bites you. Or worse, you and your children are at the playground at Fletcher Cove Beach Park or Carmel Knolls Park, and suddenly, a dog mauls your child.
Across the United States, thousands of people are victims of dog bites each year. In many cases, these victims are children.
If you or your child was bitten or attacked by a dog in Solana Beach, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys, experienced Solana Beach dog bite lawyers.
Gomez Trial Attorneys—Benefit From Our History of Success
The Gomez Trial Attorneys law firm is one of the best-known in the greater Solana Beach area, collecting more than $550 million in settlements and awards for clients over the last 20 years. The firm’s attorneys have proven their skills in trial practice—and many have received awards of Trial Lawyer of the Year or Outstanding Trial Lawyer. The firm brings its extensive resources to each client’s case, which is how the lawyers have secured more than 125 awards of more than $1 million on behalf of clients.
Steps to Take Following a Solana Beach Dog Bite
Anytime you or your child is bitten by a dog, it is important to make sure you get proper medical care to prevent the wound from becoming infected.
Take the following steps in the immediate aftermath of a dog bite:
- Make sure everyone is safe – First and foremost, ensure everyone involved is safe from receiving additional bites. Get away from the dog if possible and do not attempt to chase or capture the animal.
- Snap photos if possible – If you have your cell phone, take photographs of the animal, the area where the attack occurred, and the wounds any victims suffered.
- Contact information of the dog’s owner – If the owner was with the dog, get their name, address, and telephone number immediately. You need this information to file a bite report with Animal Control. You should also ask the owner if the dog had a rabies vaccine.
- Contact authorities – In Solana Beach, you should consider contacting the police following a dog bite, particularly if someone is seriously injured. You will also want to contact Animal Friends of the Valleys (AFV) to make a report since the owner will be required to put their dog in quarantine for at least 10 days.
- Seek medical care – Whether the victim appears to have a serious or minor injury, it is imperative to seek immediate medical care. Wounds from a dog bite can be deceptive and you must clean them regularly. If the dog’s owner indicated the dog had not had a rabies shot, or you are uncertain about the dog’s rabies status, you should inform the physician of that as well.
After you take all of these steps you should make sure you find out whether the dog’s owner is a homeowner or a renter and get their insurance information. You should also reach out to a Solana Beach dog bite lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible. Do not speak with anyone from the insurance company without consulting us first.
Common Injuries Following a Solana Beach Dog Bite or Attack
Some dog bite injuries are terrifying.
While the most common injuries are bite wounds, other related injuries can cause additional health challenges after a dog attack, including:
- Lacerations or abrasions – If a dog bite victim is knocked to the ground, they can suffer abrasions and lacerations from the fall. Gravel, dirt, and other debris can get into the wound and cause an infection if it is not properly cared for. Naturally, lacerations are far more serious because they are deeper and generally impact more than one layer of skin. In some cases, serious lacerations may require stitches.
- Puncture wounds – Depending on the size of the dog and how hard they bit, the wounds a victim suffers can be punctures. Puncture wounds can be deep and require extensive treatment because they have a higher rate of infection than lacerations. Even if you are not bleeding much, you should have a puncture wound examined by a doctor.
- Avulsions – These wounds can occur on any part of the body—avulsion means a tearing away of protective skin. In some cases, depending on the size of the dog and the severity of the attack, victims can require reconstructive surgery to repair the wounds. Temecula Valley Hospital recommends that anyone with a wound with jagged edges seek medical attention immediately.
- Crushing injuries – A large dog can inflict serious injury on children and adults. While a crushing injury may sound dramatic, stop and consider what could happen if a dog latches onto a finger, wrist, or ankle, particularly a big dog. These kinds of injuries can include broken bones.
- Rabies or tetanus – Fortunately, most dog owners have their dogs properly vaccinated against rabies. However, if you are not familiar with the dog who was responsible for your bite, or you are uncertain who owns the dog, you may need to start treatment for rabies to prevent serious problems. Most adults who get regular tetanus shots do not need to be concerned about tetanus, but an emergency room physician may also recommend a tetanus shot following a dog bite. Kaiser Permanente has an overview of rabies, which may be helpful to read and understand.
- Long-term scarring – Unfortunately, in most cases, a dog bite of any kind can leave a permanent scar. This is particularly true in areas where your skin is the most sensitive, including your face and hands.
In serious dog attacks, a victim sometimes suffers a traumatic brain injury if the dog knocks them to the ground and they bang their head during the fall. If you experience any symptoms of head trauma, make sure you follow up with your physician or an emergency room doctor.
Establishing Fault Following a Dog Bite in Solana Beach
California’s statutes are clear: anytime a dog bites someone the owner is strictly liable for the injuries and damages the dog causes. Whether you were visiting someone in their home, at a local playground or park, or walking down the street, the owner is responsible. The exception is if you were trespassing on the person’s property or you antagonized the dog. Unlike in some states, California dog owners do not get the benefit of the one-bite rule which allows owners to avoid fault if the dog has not previously been aggressive.
Typical Damages in Solana Beach Dog Bite Claims
There is no set amount a Solana Beach dog bite victim can expect to recover in damages. However, in most cases, a dog bite victim can file a claim against the dog owner or their insurance company for economic and non-economic losses.
Some of these losses include:
- Wages – Victims who lose time from work while recovering from a dog bite may be entitled to collect compensation for wages they lost. Should they later need to take time off for any additional procedures related to the dog bite, such as surgery to repair scarring, those lost wages may also be compensable.
- Medical expenses – The cost of treating a dog bite depends largely on the severity of the wounds and injuries the victim suffered as well as the follow-up care they need. Out-of-pocket costs for treatment including stitches, tests, rabies treatment where warranted, and other medical expenses can be part of the claim.
- Damage to clothing – If a dog attack results in damage to clothing including coats, shirts, pants, or shoes, the victim may be entitled to reimbursement for the costs of replacing or repairing them.
- Non-economic losses – Some non-economic losses including pain and suffering may be included in a claim. If the dog bite was a result of the owner encouraging an attack on the victim, punitive damages may also be available in some cases.
Always discuss the particulars of your case with an experienced Solana Beach dog bite injury attorney. Many variables make up each case. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with advice specific to your situation.
When Liability is Questioned by the Dog’s Owner
When a homeowner or a renter is concerned about their insurance rates increasing because of a dog bite claim, they may attempt to deflect liability for a dog bite.
Some ways they might attempt to do this are:
- Denying their dog bit anyone – Even when you are familiar with an animal, the dog owner may claim you mistook their dog for another dog.
- Claiming the dog was provoked – Dog owners will sometimes attempt to claim the victim provoked the dog. When the victim is a small child, specific rules apply.
- Claiming the victim was trespassing – If the dog attack occurred on the owner’s property, they will often claim the victim was trespassing.
Homeowner’s insurance coverage and rental insurance policies include blanket liability coverage, which is designed to prevent the policyholder from facing enormous legal bills in the event someone is injured at their home. However, the insurance company may also push back against the victim, because the insurance company will lose money if they have to pay a claim.
Dealing With Insurance Adjusters in Solana Beach Dog Bite Cases
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were more than 40,000 claims made against insurance policies for dog bites in 2019. Nearly 2,500 of these claims were made in California for more than $122 million. This makes it clear that insurance companies have a vested interest in making sure they pay as little as possible for dog bite injuries.
Chances are high that if you have suffered a Solana Beach dog bite injury, an insurance adjuster will contact you. They will probably ask you a lot of questions about the incident. We strongly recommend you refer these kinds of calls to a qualified Solana Beach dog bite attorney.
Keep in mind, insurance adjusters are well-trained to ask specific questions that are designed to generate certain responses. For example, if your friend asks you how you are feeling, your initial instinct is usually to say great, good, or fine. If you are dealing with an insurance company following a dog bite injury and respond in that manner, the insurance company may use your answer against you to minimize your claim.
In some cases, an insurance adjuster will make you a quick settlement offer. They may even tell you this is the “best offer” you are going to receive for your injuries, even if it does not come close to making you financially whole. Do not fall for these tactics; their goal is to get you to settle for as little as possible. This is especially true if your injuries are serious—if you will need more care in the future, accepting a settlement allows the insurance company to waive future liability.
Solana Beach Dog Bite FAQs
There are surprisingly few statistics regarding dog bites in California, or anywhere else. However, most agree with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year.
This lack of information probably leaves you with a lot of questions, especially if you are the victim of a dog bite. As experienced Solana Beach dog bite attorneys, we’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions we hear, below.
What should I do if I am bitten by a dog in Solana Beach?
You should make sure you make a record of the dog bite incident.
Your record should include the following information:
- The dog owner’s name, address, and telephone number.
- The owner’s applicable insurance policy; in most cases, this is their homeowners’ insurance coverage.
- A narrative explaining what happened, where it happened, and any other information you feel may be important.
A dog bite victim should also seek immediate medical attention. If the bite occurs outside of your doctor’s normal business hours, seek care at a local emergency room or walk-in clinic. Remember, it is possible to develop a serious infection if dog bite wounds are not properly cared for. It is common in the aftermath of a dog attack to suffer a bit of shock, so you should make sure you are treated immediately to avoid infection later.
You should also file a dog bite incident report with local authorities. In Solana Beach, this means contacting the San Diego County Animal Control Division. They can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 619-236-2341. You should report any incident where a dog bite resulted in broken skin. You should also download a dog bite report from the Animal Control website and follow the instructions on the form to report the incident.
My Solana Beach dog bite was really serious and required stitches. I am going to be out of work for at least two weeks. What should I do now?
You should immediately seek advice from our Solana Beach dog bite lawyers. Under California law, dog owners are liable for the injuries their dogs cause if they bite someone. The only time this is not true is if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property. In most cases, dogs attack someone on the sidewalk or in some other public setting.
A dog owner may need to compensate you for your injuries and for the time you lose from work while recovering from a Solana Beach dog bite.
Should I contact the dog’s owner?
No. While you can legally contact them, it is probably not a good idea until you speak with our Solana Beach dog bite attorneys.
Some laws you may not know include:
- Owners are required to report the bite to the animal control office.
- San Diego County requires dog owners to quarantine their dogs for 10 days following a dog biting someone. This keeps the dog from biting anyone else and ensures the dog does not have an illness.
What are the most common Solana Beach dog bite injuries?
We often think of a dog bite as an injury to an arm, leg, or hand. Depending on the circumstances that resulted in a dog bite, a surprising number of more serious injuries besides a simple bite can occur as a result of a Solana Beach dog attack.
In some cases, the dog knocks the victim to the ground. This can result in a head injury or other serious injury from the fall, such as broken bones including ribs, arms, or hips. Victims can also suffer other broken bones, particularly in the hands, if the dog bites down and will not let go. If the dog continues to attack when the victim is on the ground, victims often suffer facial wounds, which can mean they will have to live the rest of their lives with disfiguring scars. Eye injuries can even result in partial vision loss.
What type of compensation might I recover after a Solana Beach dog bite?
Because dog owners are held strictly liable under California statutes, you may be entitled to reimbursement for medical bills for treatment of the dog bite plus wages you lose from being out of work. If your clothing was damaged during a dog attack, the owner may be responsible for the cost of replacement garments.
If your injury was serious enough to leave scars or your doctor determines you need follow up treatment, the owner may also be liable for that care. Until you are no longer under a doctor’s care for the injuries you received in a Solana Beach dog attack, the owner may be liable for your medical expenses as well as lost wages.
Some dog bite victims are seriously traumatized following a dog bite and may require mental health counseling. This is particularly true with young victims. These costs may also be the responsibility of the dog owner.
Is there a maximum or minimum amount of compensation I can expect following a Solana Beach dog bite?
Various factors determine the final amount of compensation you might collect following a Solana Beach dog bite.
Some of these factors include:
- The seriousness of the injuries;
- The overall cost of full medical treatment associated with the dog bite;
- Any lost wages due to the dog bite;
- The cost of replacement clothing where applicable; and
- The cost of mental health care where applicable.
As you can see, there is no simple answer to this question. When you speak with your attorney and they have a more complete picture of the incident, your injuries, and your losses they will be able to give you an estimate specific to your case.
Why do I need a Solana Beach dog bite injury attorney? Can’t I work this out myself?
You may want to contact the homeowner or their insurance company on your own and work this out, but you could be taken advantage of during the process. It is important to keep in mind that insurance adjusters want to settle your case for as little as possible to save money for the insurance company.
What this means is any settlement offer will be in the interest of the insurance company, and not in your best interests. This is why working with an experienced Solana Beach dog bite attorney is important. They are there to protect you—not the insurance company.
Additionally, an attorney can handle some of the logistical steps following a Solana Beach dog bite, including:
- A thorough investigation of your claim;
- Review of all medical records associated with your injury;
- Calculation of the financial aspect of your injury; and
- Protecting your legal rights under California laws.
Some homeowner’s insurance policies may specifically exclude dog bites, which could further complicate your dog bite claim in Solana Beach. Speak with your lawyer, make sure you know your rights under the law, and avoid discussing your injuries or your claim with the dog’s owner.
What happens if the victim of a Solana Beach dog bite was my child?
Children are more frequently bitten by a dog than adults are. Children who are playing in the neighborhood, at a local park, or in other dog friendly areas can be victims of a dog bite. Since a child has no legal standing to file a lawsuit, as a parent, you can do so on their behalf. Make sure you discuss the process with your attorney because it is slightly different when a child is involved.
The San Diego County court system website has information regarding the process of obtaining a Minor’s Compromise Agreement so you can better understand the process.
What happens if the dog owner was not a homeowner?
It depends. If a person is not a homeowner but rents a property and carries rental insurance, most renters insurance policies offer blanket liability coverage and will cover dog bite claims. If a person is not a homeowner and does not carry a renters insurance policy, they are still liable for the losses you suffered and you may sue them personally. Your dog bite injury attorney can explain this process to you.
The insurance agent is asking for access to my medical records. Should I sign the release?
Before you sign any release, you should ask your attorney to review it on your behalf. There may be language in there that allows the insurer to access information that may not be relevant to your dog bite injury claim. You should always proceed with caution when signing anything you receive from an insurance company after you have filed a claim because it may include language that could damage your claim.
What should I do if the insurance company offers me a fast settlement for my Solana Beach dog bite claim?
Talk to your dog bite injury attorney. Typically, while most claims settle out of court, the insurance company is probably going to make a lower offer at first than if you work with them to make a solid case for a higher settlement. An insurer may make a fast settlement offer because they know the longer they wait to make you an offer, the more you will expect them to pay. This is especially true if you sustained serious injuries and you can’t work following a Solana Beach dog attack.
How do I pay for a lawyer if I can’t work after a Solana Beach dog bite?
The first thing you should know is your initial consultation with a dog bite attorney will almost always be free of charge – an initial consultation with Gomez Trial Attorneys is always free. During the consultation, the attorney will take the time to explain your options, California dog bite laws, and your rights under the law.
The attorney will also take the time to review information about your injuries, your monetary losses, and anything else that is relevant. Should you decide you wish to hire Gomez Trial Attorneys, you will have peace of mind in knowing you will not pay any legal fees unless and until we are successful in obtaining a settlement on your behalf.
You should also be aware you always remain in full control during this process. We will inform you of any communication with the insurance company and any settlement offers they make. We will provide you with advice and let you know our recommendations regarding any offer, but you are always in full control over whether to accept a settlement.
Do most Solana Beach dog bite claims wind up in court?
No. In most cases, a Solana Beach dog bite claim settles out of court. However, you should be aware that if you work with us, we are prepared to represent you in court should we be unable to reach a satisfactory settlement agreement on your behalf.
How are your legal fees paid following a Solana Beach dog bite settlement?
Once we have reached a final settlement agreement with the insurance company or the owner of the dog responsible for your Solana Beach dog bite injury, a percentage of the settlement will pay your legal fees. Because we do not charge an hourly fee, you will know upfront what percentage of the settlement will go to our firm. We will discuss this with you and we will sign a retainer agreement with you once you have agreed that you want us to represent you.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we are fully prepared to assist you whether you or your child is a victim of a Solana Beach dog attack. Contact the office of Gomez Trial Attorneys immediately and protect your rights.
Contact Our Solana Beach Dog Bite Injury Attorneys
If you or your child experienced a dog attack and suffered a bite, you need information. Chances are you have questions about dealing with insurance companies and who is responsible for your medical bills and other losses. We know how stressful this can be and we also understand a dog bite victim often suffers mentally and emotionally after this type of attack. Feeling fearful can hinder your recovery.
You or your child needs to have time to physically and emotionally recover. A Solana Beach dog bite injury attorney can help by taking over the challenges of negotiating your settlement with an insurance company. You can focus on your recovery or helping your child recover while we work on your behalf to get the maximum possible settlement. We are committed to making sure you are in control of the process, but we can help you understand the legal aspects of filing a claim and getting the compensation you deserve.
Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys at our Solana Beach office today by calling 833-GET GOMEZ (833-438-4663) or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
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603 N. Highway 101
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Phone: (858) 400-4333
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