Costa Mesa Dog Bite Lawyers
People living in Orange County love their dogs. Dog owners can be seen with their pets at the Costa Mesa Bark Park, which provides a place for dogs to play, complete with pick up bags and water bowls. It even has an adjoining Mini Bark Park for small, elderly, or disabled dogs. These playgrounds show what an open and welcoming community Costa Mesa is when it comes to canine companions.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we love them, some dogs bite, and every year innocent people, including children, suffer injuries from an animal attack. In most cases, dog bite victims have a legal right to recover damages from responsible dog owners. We at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie have years of experience with dog bite cases and know exactly the kind of damage an aggressive dog can cause. If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog, don’t hesitate to contact us at (949) 752-7474.
California imposes strict liability on owners of dogs that bite. Under California Civil Code Section 3342, a dog owner is liable for any damages suffered by a person who is bitten by the owner’s dog while in the public or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the dog owner, whether or not the dog has proven to be viscous in the past or if the owner knew of any vicious behavior. Being lawfully on private property means performing any duty imposed upon a person by state law, federal law, or postal regulations, or when on the property by express or implied invitation of the owner.
Not all dog bites are the same or bring the same level of injury. According to Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale, the severity of dog biting problems has been classified in the following levels based on an objective evaluation of wound pathology:
Level 1: The dog displays aggressive or obnoxious behavior, but there is no skin contact by the teeth.
Level 2: The dog’s teeth contact the skin of the victim, but do not puncture the skin. There may be nicks and slight bleeding caused by the forward or lateral movement of the teeth against the skin, but no vertical puncture wounds.
Level 3: This level of attack involves one to four puncture wounds caused by a single bite, with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. There could include lacerations in a single direction, caused by the victim pulling a hand away, the dog owner pulling the dog away, or by gravity.
Level 4: This level also involves one to four puncture wounds from a single bite, but with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. There may also be deep bruising around the wound (from the dog holding on and bearing down) or lacerations in both directions (from the dog holding on and shaking its head from side to side).
Level 5: At this level, there are multiple-bite incidents, with at least two Level 4 bites, or multiple-attack incidents, with at least one Level 4 bite in each attack.
Level 6: Victim dies.
If you have been bitten and injured by a dog, whatever the level, you should seek medical help as soon as possible. Even a bite that may not seem so serious should be given professional attention, as you never know what diseases or bacteria the dog in question carries. Thankfully, Costa Mesa has some incredible hospitals, like the College Hospital located at 301 Victoria St.
An animal attack can cause serious physical and emotional harm. If the dog’s rabies vaccinations are not up to date, there can be costly medical complications. Rabies shots can run into the thousands, and the disease is usually fatal by the time symptoms begin to show. Even if the dog in question does not have rabies, it’s mouth likely carries harmful bacteria, which will often result in a serious infection if the wound is not treated. Even a small nip can end in a trip to the hospital.
Deeper bites often result in broken bones, intense bruising, and disfiguring scars. In extreme cases, plastic surgery may be required to make a full recovery. All of these treatments mean medical bills, time away from work, and even more emotional, and physical, pain for you. It is unacceptable that you are left to pick up the pieces of your life because a dog owner was not able to responsibly control their pet.
If you have been the victim of a dog bite attack in California while on public property or legally on private property, you have a right to pursue compensation for your damages. These damages may include, but are not limited to, medical expenses, past, present and future, lost wages, pain and suffering, lowered quality of life, and psychological trauma.
Many dog owners have dog bite coverage under their homeowner’s insurance policies. After you are bitten by a dog, a representative of an insurance company may contact you and ask for a recorded statement regarding the dog bite incident. It is important that you do not provide a recorded statement and do not sign any documents, except as required by local law enforcement, without first consulting with an experienced Costa Mesa injury lawyer. Insurance companies are in business for profit, and they will use your words against you in an effort to minimize their payout.
If you or your loved one has been the victim of a dog bite attack, contact Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free consultation with no time limits or restrictions. Our Orange County personal injury attorneys have been successfully representing injured people for more than 40 years.
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