Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyer
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Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyer

At Ellis Law, our Los Angeles lawyers have successfully recovered damages on behalf of innocent victims, through both insurance settlement negotiations and litigation. In California, a dog bite victim can obtain compensation based on theories of negligence and strict liability. In addition, a special statute was enacted that holds owners liable even if their animal has no prior history of violence or attacks.  

Besides the emotional and physical trauma of an animal attack, the results can cost victims thousands of dollars in medical treatment. Fortunately, legal remedies are available to those who suffered harm through no fault of their own. Contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION if you or a loved one have experienced a frightening incident involving someone else’s dog. 

Los Angeles dog bite attorneys 

Of course, in order to recoup monetary damages following a dog bite in California, you’ll need to do much more than negotiating with the dog’s owner. With the expertise of an LA personal injury attorney from Ellis Law, you can rest assured your case will be handled professionally and efficiently, ensuring you get maximum reimbursement for all hospital expenses, time off work, and pain and suffering. 

If you need an advocate who will protect your best interests, you can trust the attorneys at Ellis Law. For more than 20 years, our legal team specializes in these types of claims, helping injured victims get the compensation they need and deserve. 

U.S. dog bite statistics  

  • Dog bites take place every 75 seconds in the U.S., leading to more than 1,000 daily emergency room visits for serious injuries.  
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that some 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year — sadly, half of those people are children.  
  • In fact, dog bites are the second most frequent cause of emergency room visits among children, particularly between the ages of five and nine. 

California dog bite statistics  

Despite state laws that clearly favor the victims… 

  • California leads the nation in lethal dog attacks and dog bite insurance claims.  
  • Almost 1 in 5 dog bites is critical enough to warrant emergency medical attention. 
  • There were nine dog bite fatalities in California in 2019 
  • That same year, 2,396 insurance claims were filed on behalf of California dog attack victims. 

Which dog breeds attack?  

While Pit Bulls represent just 6.5% of the U.S. dog population, a 13-year study found they were responsible for over 65 percent of fatal dog attacks in the United States.  

Additionally, over 50 dog breeds have been linked to attacks — including mixed breeds, as well as purebred Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, Bulldogs, and Huskies.  

Most canine attacks involve more than one dog and dogs who have not been spayed or neutered.  

Are dog bites an occupational hazard? 

Los Angeles consistently ranks number one for dog attacks on postal workers – with 74 employees reporting incidents in 2019. Dogs have been known to break through screens or plate glass to attack postal workers. Other times, dogs break loose from yards to roam the neighborhood or push past owners attempting to take mail directly from the carriers. While postal workers represent only a fraction of those who suffer dog bites, the statistics are telling about a large number of aggressive canines in Los Angeles County. 

Dog bite injuries and related medical expenses 

The Insurance Information Institute reports that dog bite liability claims cost U.S. homeowners $797 million in 2019. The average cost per claim increased by 14.7 percent to $44,760 due to the cost of medical care, as well as the size of settlements and judgments – which are trending upward. California insurers paid out $122.8 million with an average claim value of $51,265.   

The most common types of injuries sustained from animal attacks include: 

  • Deep puncture wounds 
  • Soft tissue tears 
  • Head or brain trauma 
  • Amputations and disability 
  • Facial scars and disfigurement 
  • Eye damage and vision loss 
  • Crush injuries and broken bones 
  • Wound and bone infections 
  • Rabies, staph, or strep infections 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

What compensation is dog bite victims and their families entitled to? 

In most cases, the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance policy compensates victims for losses like:  

  • Current and future medical expenses 
  • Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Emotional distress 

In the event of a fatal dog bite, wrongful death lawsuits may be filed on behalf of surviving spouses, dependent children, or (in some cases) parents and legal heirs. Compensation may include funeral and burial costs, lost family services and income, and losses of companionship and guidance.  

If a loved one suffered of injuries prior to death, a survival cause of action may be filed to compensate the estate for the victim’s pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical bills.  

Factors affecting dog bite claim values 

Your claim value may be particularly high if:  

  • You are relatively young. 
  • Your scars are visible. 
  • The physical damage was severe.  
  • The injuries required surgery. 
  • The injuries are permanent. 
  • The injuries caused complications like infection. 
  • You are being treated for PTSD. 
  • You are a woman without a spouse. 

Who is responsible for vicious dog attacks? 

California’s animal bite epidemic entails not just the canine or the breed, but the owner as well. An irresponsible owner or one who mistreats his canine is often a contributing factor in gruesome dog attacks.  

  • Nearly half of all fatal dog attacks involve a family pet killing a member of the household.   

California dog bite law 

State legislation mandates that “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” 

In effect, leveling charges of wrongdoing aren’t necessary when pursuing a claim; California law stipulates the owner’s liability for injuries suffered in an attack, even when the dog has no previous record of aggressive tendencies. 

Dog owners may also be held responsible for their pet’s actions if they were negligent in handling by allowing an animal to roam freely (without leash), putting guests or passersby in harm’s way.  

What can dog owners do to prevent harm? 

Los Angeles lawyers sometimes bring in experts who can testify as to what a “reasonable dog owner” might have done, given the situation. They might argue that the dog owner could have reduced the risk of attack by: 

  • Spaying or neutering the animal to reduce aggressive tendencies. 
  • Training the dog to obey basic commands. 
  • Keeping the dog leashed at all times in public. 
  • Licensing the dog with local authorities. 
  • Properly fencing in the yard and securing the home to reduce the risk of escape. 
  • Socializing the dog early on, watching for fearful or anxious behavior. 
  • Sought help from a veterinarian or professional dog trainer. 
  • Kept the dog from provoking situations like interacting with children or going out into crowds. 

Ellis Injury Law has the necessary resources to obtain animal behavior experts on your behalf in an effort to prove negligence and secure a higher settlement value.  

Dog bite lawsuits 

In California, a victim who files a lawsuit must demonstrate: 

  • The dog was owned by the defendant 
  • The bite occurred on public property or while the victim was legally on private property 
  • The victim was bitten and suffered injuries from the actual bite 

Once the basic tenets of liability are established, the attorney will look to maximize the claim by minimizing the amount of blame placed on the victim. 

Possible defenses for dog bite attacks 

Even though California places tremendous responsibility on dog owners for the behavior of their animals, dog bite claims are not always slam-dunk cases. The victim’s settlement or award can be reduced or even negated if he or she is determined to be at-fault for provoking the attack. California courts have denied damages to “negligent” victims who harassed the dog or failing to properly evaluate the risk of an attack, given the situation. 

A defendant may also attempt to avoid liability by: 

  • Denying ownership, 
  • Citing inadequate identification of the dog, or 
  • Claiming the victim trespassed on private property. 

Courts will consider whether the dog was provoked. Victims have been held at least partially liable for: 

  • Accidentally stepping on a dog’s tail 
  • Approaching an unfamiliar chained or leashed animal 
  • Intervening in a dog fight 
  • Spraying repellent on a dog in self-defense, or 
  • Hugging, patting, playing rough, hitting, or pushing the dog. 

Getting advice from a skilled attorney is the smartest course of action following any type of attack or injury – even if it occurred at a friend or family member’s home. Ellis Law offers in-depth lawsuit reviews at no charge and will answer all questions regarding your right to compensation following an incident. 

What to do if a dog attacked you 

When a dog attack occurs, ideally victims will: 

  • Contact a police officer to file a report. 
  • Maintain a folder with all documents contained. 
  • Get the dog owner’s personal information (name, address, phone number, insurance provider). 
  • Take photos of the location where the attack occurred, the animal, and the injuries. 
  • Seek immediate medical attention from a physician, urgent care, or emergency room. 
  • Write down a summary of everything that happened prior to, during, and after the attack. 
  • Keep a journal of pain symptoms, limits to daily activities, and all medical appointments/treatments. 
  • Report the bite to local animal control, as this is a legal requirement to reduce the risk of rabies spread. 

How Ellis Law attorneys can help 

In the years we’ve been handling cases, our lawyers have witnessed the physical, emotional and financial tolls that serious injuries take on clients. We understand the monetary strain placed on your family and loved ones as medical bills continue to pile up. Our law firm works with a network of medical experts, investigators and support staff to help victims recover full compensation for their losses. Retaining an attorney at Ellis Law is a crucial step in pursuing a successful claim for your injuries and economic damages. 

We will help you obtain all medical records, determine ownership of the dog and the facts of the assault, examine the history of the dog, and work hard to recover full damages for the pain you have suffered. You’re not alone during this difficult time; contact our offices to learn more about your legal options and rights

Experienced dog bite lawyers in Los Angeles 

If you’re looking for a personal injury firm with extensive experience in these types of cases, contact Ellis Law for a free, no-obligation consultation. You pay nothing unless we win your case. Our capable attorneys have more than 20 years of experience securing settlements and damage awards for victims in LA County.  

Remember that in California, the “One Bite Rule” does not apply and owners are liable for compensation associated with any injuries inflicted by their dog. For more information or to schedule your case evaluation, call toll-free at 888-303-8780.