This week our clocks were turned back, and now have more daylight hours to walk our dogs. Many of us have avoided public places for fear of Covid. Is it now safe to get out and about? Do we still have to worry about crowds and Covid at the dog park? Will the downturn in Covid rear its ugly head with winter and a predicted uptick in Covid?
We all ask, with COVID 19 is it now safe to go to the dog park? If so, when we get to the park, do we have to worry about Dog Bites because our dogs have not played with other dogs much during the last 2 years. Are owners feeling sorry for their dogs, and let them roam OFF LEASH?
The prevalence, seriousness, and cost of dog bites are all on the rise in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says about 5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Factors that cause a dog to bite are: training, breed, health, socialization, provocation, aggression, heredity and the behavior of surrounding humans. Of course a big issue now, is have the dogs interacted with many humans lately?
It is common sense that an owner has a legal responsibility to ensure that an unprovoked dog is safe and will not attack others, regardless of a dog’s nature and upbringing. If any of my CV Weekly readers, or their friends, have been bitten by a dog, they should seek medical attention ASAP. Then, they should contact a local Dog Bite Accident Attorney that has successfully handled these cases for years.
Many years ago California had a ONE BITE statute. It only imposed liability on the owner, if the dog had already bitten one person in the past. The thinking was that the owner did NOT KNOW his dog bites. Today, we have Strict Liability and if your dog bites someone You Are Financially Liable.
Strict liability means if a dog bites someone then the owner is automatically liable….even if it is the first time the dog has ever bitten anyone. The dog’s owner has a duty to control his/her dog at all times. A breach of that duty imposes civil liability (DAMAGES) for any injuries suffered by a victim.
An experienced Dog Bite attorney will encourage their client to immediately go to the ER or Urgent Care. However, we also have our clients bite injury, examined by a plastic surgeon who knows how to prepare a med/legal report. The report should estimate the cost of future medicals and the chances of scaring. An experienced attorney will also suggest a Psychologist, if the client has developed a phobia about dogs or nightmares of the incident etc.
The injury is only part of what a good attorney should address. When I had a 30 person law firm I always taught my new lawyers that documentation is the name of the game. This would include not only treatment with the appropriate doctors but pictures of the bite/scar and a client’s daily diary explaining how this bite affected the client’s life.
In other words, did the victim cancel a vacation? Cancel a party they were throwing or attending? Cancel family pictures? Was the victim advised by their doctor to stay out of the sun and avoid golf? Many of our CV neighbors “live for” these sports.
The Dog Bite Victims should stay off Social Media. It is the kiss of death for a doctor’s report to show all the things the patient should not do, and then have pictures of the victim client doing what they were not supposed to do. The bottom line is to let your lawyer talk to the insurance company, and remember to shut the f-uck up. Silence is golden, and thus you should keep your mouth shut.
The cost of dog-bite claims for insurers has risen to hundreds of millions of dollars each year, with the average settlement in the $30,000 range. This increase has been attributed to the increased inflation medical costs, and the increased value of settlements, jury awards, and verdicts for plaintiffs, which has outpaced inflation and the value of auto accident cases.
Thus, many insurance homeowners policies now exclude certain breeds of dogs from coverage, which means you must check your homeowners policy to be sure you are covered. The bottom line is that an experienced Dog Bite Lawyer will frame the case to focus on an increased Perception of Risk to the Insurance Company. We should all be mindful that if an insurance company treated victim fairly, lawyers would be out of business.
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