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Temecula Dog Bite Attorney

Temecula Dog Bite Attorney

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Temecula Dog Bite Attorneys

The victim of a dog bite attack should not be responsible for the costs associated with the injuries they suffered. If you or a loved one has suffered from a dog bite injury in or around Temecula, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today at 833-GET GOMEZ (833-438-4663) for a free case evaluation. Our Temecula Dog Bite Lawyers are committed to achieving extraordinary results for our clients.

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The Risks of a Dog Bite in Temecula

Dog bites can result in serious injuries. The most immediate concern will be any puncture wound created by the animal’s teeth. A deep bite might require stitches, and damage to the face often requires plastic surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that there were nearly 27,000 reconstructive procedures due to dog bites in one recent year. Dog bites present serious risks beyond the risk of puncture and disfigurement. More than 60 kinds of bacteria can be found living inside the mouth of a dog. While not all of these bacteria cause serious infections, several are common causes of post-bite infection:
  • Capnocytophaga: This infection is most commonly caused by dog and cat bites, and symptoms appear three to five days after the bite. Symptoms include blisters around the bite wound, swelling, pus, drainage, pain, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, and muscle or joint pain. Three out of ten people who develop a serious infection die as a result. Others might experience serious complications like kidney failure or a heart attack. Individuals with a compromised immune system are at increased risk of suffering a serious infection.
  • Rabies: Rabies will only be transferred through a dog bit if the dog is rabid, and not all bites will transfer the virus. The virus, when transferred, is oftentimes fatal. A doctor will normally recommend a series of shots to attempt to avoid the virus from taking hold if the dog that bit you is rabid.
  • Pasteurella: This bacteria lives in the mouths of many dogs, and the bacteria can enter the skin through a bite, causing a skin infection called cellulitis. Symptoms normally appear within 24 hours of the bite and include swelling, warmth, redness, skin tenderness, and occasionally discharge or pus. The infection is treated with antibiotics. Some cases present complications like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, blood infection, eye infection, and meningitis.
  • Staphylococcal: Commonly referred to as staph, dogs carry the bacteria in their saliva. Symptoms will vary by victim, but include muscle aches and pains, redness, swelling, pus and abscess formation, cellulitis, fever, and chills. A staph infection moves quickly throughout the body and can affect every organ in the body.
  • Tetanus: Tetanus is a toxin, not bacteria, but it is produced by a variety of bacteria. When bacteria spores enter a wound, they can germinate to produce the toxin that enters the bloodstream. Tetanus affects the interaction between nerves and muscles, causing muscles to spasm or stiffen. The tetanus immunization provides the body with antibodies necessary to fight the infection. If you are unsure if you are up-to-date on your tetanus vaccination, a shot is recommended after suffering from a dog bite.
Physical injuries are not the only injuries common after suffering from a dog bite. Many dog-bite victims are also left dealing with emotional trauma. One of the groups most at-risk from dog bites and resulting emotional effects are children. Over a 15 year period, children aged 2 and under made up 26 percent of dog bite victims, and children under the age of 10 accounted for almost 50 percent of victims. There are some reasons children are more likely to suffer a dog bite. For example, they are more likely to be acting rambunctiously in the vicinity of a dog, and are not as physically intimidating to the dog. Studies have also found that children do not recognize canine body language, so they often fail to adjust their behavior accordingly. After a dog bite incident, victims are likely to suffer a variety of emotional reactions including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children are at increased risk of suffering from PTSD. PTSD in children is especially problematic because it can interfere with their normal development. The care received after the attack can also influence whether a victim suffers from PTSD. PTSD is accompanied by a range of symptoms that can dramatically affect the day-to-day life of the victim:
  • Intrusive memories, including distressing memories of the traumatic event, upsetting dreams, or intense reactions to a reminder of the event.
  • Avoidance of memories of the event or places, activities, or people associated with the event.
  • Negative changes in thinking or mood, including:
    • Negative self-thoughts
    • Hopelessness
    • Problems with memory
    • Detachment or failure to maintain relationships
    • Lack of interest in activities
    • Emotional numbness or inability to feel positive emotions
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Increased startle reflex.
  • Feeling on-guard.
  • Guilt or shame.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Self-destructive behavior.
Every PTSD patient will experience different symptoms and at different intensities. The most common triggers for victims of dog bites with PTSD are interactions with or exposure to dogs. This can be incredibly limiting because dogs are a commonly present aspect of life.

Determining Fault for Temecula Dog Bite Injuries

California is a strict liability state for dog bites. Strict liability means that the owner of a dog is liable for damages suffered by a victim of a dog bite without a showing of negligence or other bad acts on the part of the dog owner. In California, the owner is liable if the bite occurs in a public place or if the victim is lawfully on private property. There is no requirement that the dog has a history of viciousness. There are only a few exceptions to strict liability:
  • Use of a military dog or police dog by a governmental agency, as long as the dog was defending itself or assisting an agency employee in apprehension, investigation, or defense; and
  • Situations where the victim was a trespasser—because they would not be considered lawfully on private property.
If strict liability does not apply, a victim would need to demonstrate that the owner was negligent. Any act that deviates from the behavior of a reasonable dog owner may be considered negligence, and the owner would be responsible if this negligence contributed to the attack. For example, if an owner violated a local leash law, it can be evidence of negligence. Some locations, including Riverside County, have measures in place to control dangerous animals. The Riverside ordinance permits the Division of Animal Control to designate certain animals as potentially dangerous and to issue a restraint order. The ordinance also allows for various protective requirements, including increased insurance requirements. This ordinance requires the placement of conspicuous signage such as “Vicious Animal.” Failure to do so would be negligent. Failure of an owner to comply with any aspects of the ordinance is evidence of negligence. In some instances, the victim’s employer may be responsible for the employee’s injuries. Some professions require employees to encounter dogs as part of their work duties. A common example is a mail carrier, who must enter a private property where dogs may be present. If a worker is bitten while lawfully performing work duties, they could seek recovery from their employer. Employee recovery is managed through the Division of Workers’ Compensation.

Next Steps After a Temecula Dog Bite

The first thing to do after a dog bite is to assess and tend to the wound. If the owner is present, ask if the dog has been vaccinated. Clean the bite with soap and water and cover it with a bandage. If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth. Once you have triaged the immediate medical needs, seek medical care to determine the next steps. After you have sought medical treatment, report the dog bite. Reporting a dog bite helps the city track potential rabies exposure and also helps ensure compliance with local animal control ordinances. In Riverside County, report dog bites to the local Animal Control Agency or Humane Society. Then contact us. We can help you analyze the strength of your case, prepare a case strategy, file court documents, and compile a comprehensive damages demand. Many victims mistakenly believe their recovery is limited to their medical expenses, but damages can encompass all the ways the victim has been injured by the accident. Depending on the facts of your case, damages could include:
  • Medical expenses: The defendant is responsible for all medical costs, including doctor visits, hospital stays, plastic surgery, and prescription medicine. If your injuries require ongoing care like physical therapy, these costs could also be included.
  • Lost wages: A dog bite might require you to miss work, or to work a reduced schedule. Imagine a factory worker who suffered a bite to the hand. If they cannot use their hand for a period of time, they would be unable to perform their job duties. You could include lost wages in your damages demand, as well as an estimate of any future lost earning potential. Input from an economic expert may be required to help estimate future damages.
  • Property damage: If the bite caused you to drop a possession, or fall and break personal property, the defendant could be held responsible for repair or replacement. For example, a victim might fall and crack their phone as a result of the attack.
  • Emotional distress: Emotional distress, like PTSD, is not uncommon after a dog bite. Work with your attorney to assess the emotional impact and include appropriate damages in your demand.
  • Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries limit your ability to participate in one or more activities that were previously an important part of your life, you may deserve to recover for this loss. If one of your most joyful hobbies was embroidery but the bite has limited the mobility in your hand, this is the type of loss that should be considered.
  • Punitive damages: California law requires evidence that the defendant acted with oppression, fraud, or malice for recovery of punitive damages. This requirement is because punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for behavior that harms society. If a dog owner is aware of repeatedly aggressive behavior by their dog and the owner does nothing to prevent an attack, your case might qualify for punitive damages.
Preparing a damages demand is an important, complicated, and fact-intensive process. Having a clear understanding of the extent of your injuries and the monetary impact will better prepare you to consider any settlement offers proposed by the defendant or their insurance company. The information contained in a damages demand will also inform the demand made to a judge or jury if the case goes to trial. Contact a Temecula personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite cases. If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite in or around Temecula, CA, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today. Members of our team have been named Top Lawyers in a variety of fields, and several have received the honor of Trial Lawyer of the Year and Outstanding Trial Lawyer. Our lawyers are committed to supporting and advocating on behalf of each client and have the dedication and resources necessary to support complex cases. Contact the firm today for a free case evaluation.

Questions and Answers About Temecula Dog Bites

Over 63 percent of households in the United States own a dog. Dogs are an ever-present part of many people’s lives. While dogs can be great companions, not all individual’s experiences with dogs are positive. An unfortunate number of people are the victims of dog bites. Dealing with a dog bite is a scary and stressful time, especially if the victim is left trying to determine how to recover for their injuries. Read on to find answers to some commonly asked questions victims have after a dog bite, and to understand how an attorney can help.

Q: How common are Temecula dog bite injuries?

Dogs can be amazing companions, but they can also be dangerous. Around 4.5 million people are the victims of a dog bite each year. Dog bites result in over 14,000 hospitalizations. Every day in the United States approximately 1,000 people are the victim of a serious dog bite injury that requires emergency care. In a recent 14-year span, more than 500 people died from canine attacks. In addition to the impact on human life, there is a financial cost associated with dog bites. In one recent year, homeowners insurance companies paid out nearly $800 million in liability claims because of dog-related injuries. California had the largest number of homeowner claims because of dog bites in the United States that same year. There were 2,396 claims in California, with a total cost of over $122 million in claims and an average cost of over $50,000 per claim. Dog bites are still quite common, and these bites often require emergency medical care or hospitalization. In the United States, about 4.5 million dog bites take place every year, and about 14,025 of these victims require hospitalization. Each day, an average of 1,000 people must seek emergency care for a dog bite. In one recent year, 48 fatalities related to dog bites took place in the United States. In another recent year, California was the state with the most lethal attacks—with nine deaths. Pit bulls were responsible for eight of those nine deaths in California.

Q: Which dog breeds are most likely to attack?

A recent study identified pit bulls as the most likely breed to bite, accounting for 22.5 percent of attacks. Mixed breeds, German Shepherds, terriers, and Rottweilers were the following breeds on the list. Mixed breeds and pit bulls were also the breeds with the highest average damage per bite. The least likely breeds to bite were dalmatian, pointer, Great Dane, Pekingese, and spitz. In Riverside County, an owner of a pit bull must spay or neuter their animal once it is four. The county enacted the ordinance because pit bulls account for 20 percent of shelter dogs and 30 percent of dogs euthanized in the county. Those who violate the ordinance can be guilty of an infraction or misdemeanor. There are exceptions to the ordinance for certain pit bulls, including licensed pit bulls owned by registered breeders and pit bulls trained and used by public law enforcement.

Q: What causes a dog to bite?

Dogs most often bite humans in reaction to something, such as stress. If a dog feels a need to defend itself or its territory, it is more likely to bite. Dogs are also prone to bite when they are scared or sick. While dogs can nip during play, these small bites can be dangerous. Avoid activities that will overexcite an animal and cause it to nip or bite. This can be particularly dangerous for children who are unable to interpret a dog’s reaction.

Q: What types of injuries are caused by a dog bite?

A dog bite can result in injuries, including nerve and muscle damages, broken bones, a variety of infections, tetanus, or scarring. It is not uncommon for a dog bite to require reconstructive procedures to repair the damage. In fact, more than 25,000 reconstructive procedures were required because of dog bites in 2018. Roughly one in five dog bites become infected, and it is important to be familiar with the symptoms of infection. Keep an eye out for:
  • Swelling or redness around the wound
  • Pain that does not diminish over time
  • Pus or drainage
  • Stiffness or limited mobility
  • Feeling of heat around the wound
  • Fever
  • Shaking
One important step to preventing infection is to wash the wound with soap and warm water as soon as possible. If available, apply antibiotic cream and apply a clean bandage. If the wound is deep, apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible, based on the seriousness of the wound. In addition to physical injuries, emotional injuries are common for dog bite victims. This is especially true with the most vulnerable and most common victims of dog bites: children. Children under the age of 10 are the most likely to suffer from a dog bite and often suffer from emotional trauma such as PTSD as a result. PTSD manifests differently for each sufferer, but it commonly includes intrusive memories, negative changes to mood, trouble sleeping and concentrating, and destructive behavior.

Q: What are the financial impacts of dog bites in the United States?

Average costs associated with dog bites are on the rise, increasing by 134 percent during the last 20 years or so. Homeowners’ insurers paid $797 million in liability for dog bites and the associated injuries in one recent year. A dog bite victim can face an average cost of $18,200 for a hospital stay to treat their injuries. The average cost of a hospital stay for a dog bite injury is about 50 percent higher than other hospital stays for injuries. In one recent year, California had the highest number of claims for dog bite injuries. The number of claims was 2,396, an increase from the previous year’s 2,166. The average cost per claim in California was $51,265, and claims totaled $122.8 million.

Q: What local laws in Temecula that apply to vicious dogs?

Riverside County has enacted an ordinance, placing additional regulations on potentially dangerous animals. The ordinance was enacted because the county was experiencing an increased number of attacks, biting, and other menacing behavior by dogs and other animals. The ordinance defines a dangerous animal as:
  • Any animal that has pursued, bitten, or otherwise caused a less severe injury twice within 48 months;
  • Any animal that has attacked, bitten, or caused death or substantial injury one time; or
  • Any dog declared a “potentially dangerous dog” by California State Law during a legal hearing.
An animal is considered “potentially dangerous” if it has only one instance of active pursuit, bite or less severe injury, or has caused injury to another animal. The Division of Animal Control is authorized to issue a restraining order against any potentially dangerous animal. The animal will be placed on a list, and would only be removed after 48 months with no incidents. Dangerous animals may be impounded or abated as a public nuisance. Restrictions or conditions may be placed on the owner, including insurance liability requirements, mandatory enclosures, and requirements of restraints for the animal. Warning signs are also required for any potentially dangerous or dangerous animal. Additionally, owners of dogs on the list must pay significantly higher licensing fees.

Q: What is strict liability?

Strict liability places the legal responsibility for damages or injuries on an individual, even when they did not act with negligence. California law makes dog owners strictly liable for dog bite injuries inflicted in a public place, or to an individual lawfully on private property. This means that the dog owner would be responsible for the victim’s injuries even if they did not act negligently.

Q: What if I was trespassing in Temecula?

Strict liability does not apply to trespassers. Instead, you would need to demonstrate that there was a failure on the part of the owner that brought about the bite and your injuries. If the owner violated the Riverside County ordinance relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous animals, or any other law or ordinance relating to animals, this is potential evidence that they had acted negligently.

Q: What if I was bitten while performing my job duties in Temecula?

If you were bitten in the scope of your work responsibilities, your employer would be responsible for your injuries. Many jobs require employees to enter private property or otherwise come in contact with animals, such as a meter reader or mail carrier. If you were bitten in the course of your work duties, you can seek recovery through the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Work with an attorney to understand the most efficient and beneficial option for recovery.

Q: What if I was bitten by a stray dog in Temecula?

Recovery is much more complicated if you were bitten by a stray dog because there is no owner to pursue for recovery. The government is not generally responsible for the actions of stray animals, and it is difficult to pursue the government for recovery. If, however, you can demonstrate that an individual or organization such as Animal Control failed in their responsibilities, you may be able to seek recovery. For example, if you were bitten by a dangerous dog that Animal Control allowed to escape, you may be able to seek recovery based on the organization’s negligence. Additionally, if you were bitten by a stray dog while performing your job duties as an employee, you can seek recovery from your employer.

Q: What will happen to the dog that bit me?

It is a common misconception that a dog that bites a human will be euthanized. This often keeps individuals from reporting a bite, especially if it is a family dog or the dog of a friend. It is important to dispel this myth so that dog bites are appropriately reported. Unless the biting dog is found to have rabies, it is not likely that the dog would be euthanized. Instead, the dog would be tracked by the Division of Animal Control to monitor any future instances of attack. Depending on the dog’s history and the nature of the attack, the Division of Animal Control may impose certain restrictions on the animal, including signage warnings of the risk. These restrictions are important to prevent others from suffering from a bite.

Q: How are insurance companies involved in recovery for dog bite injuries?

Most homeowners and renters insurance policies cover dog bite liability of the owner. The amount of coverage will depend on the policy. Any amount that exceeds the policy limit must be covered by the dog owner. Insurance companies might choose not to cover certain breeds that are known to be dangerous, such as pit bulls. Other companies might address coverage on a case-by-case basis rather than focusing on the breed. If a dog has a history of biting, an insurance company has the option not to renew the policy or to exclude the animal from coverage. Just because an insurance company appears to be responsible, this does not mean they will not try to avoid their obligations. Be cautious of accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company without first discussing it with an attorney.

Q: How can your Temecula dog bite attorneys help with my case?

At first glance, recovering for dog bite injuries might sound straightforward. Because strict liability applies, you could simply go ask the dog’s owner to pay for your injuries. Unfortunately, dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite tends to be much more complicated. A personal injury attorney can help relieve you of the stress of recovery, including:
  • Preparing a strategy for recovery, taking into account all responsible parties, including the dog owner, the owner’s insurance company, and your employer if you were injured on the job;
  • Communication with the insurance company;
  • Preparation of a damages demand that includes all injuries you have suffered, not just your medical costs;
  • Compiling and analyzing evidence to support your case;
  • Drafting and filing any court documents; and
  • Analyzing any settlement offers made by the defendant or their insurance company.

Call Gomez Trial Attorneys’ Temecula Dog Bite Lawyers Today

Working with an attorney could help ease the worry and stress of securing recovery for your injuries, allowing you the time to focus on healing. The team at Gomez Trial Attorneys understands that recovering from any traumatic injury is difficult. We stand by our clients to fight for the full recovery they deserve. We have a record of successfully advocating for our clients, and our reputation ensures that insurance companies and defendants will take our clients’ cases seriously. Our team of dedicated lawyers is committed to supporting each client throughout the legal process, and we have the resources necessary to tackle complicated cases. The many accolades received by the firm and our lawyers, including Trial Lawyer of the Year, Outstanding Attorney, and Outstanding Trial Lawyer, all speak to our team’s dedication to our clients. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today at 866-TRIAL LAW (866 874-2552) or through our website if you or a loved one was the victim of a dog bite in or around Temecula. We will provide a free case evaluation, and go from there.

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Gomez Trial Attorneys 27720 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 220 Temecula, CA 92590 (951) 900-3440

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