Most dogs provide their owners with companionship, a sense of security, and unconditional love. When they do get angry or feel threatened, however, they can go into an uncontrollable rage with catastrophic results. A dog bite injury is painful, and in many cases leaves a permanent scar. How much money you will get from an attack depends upon a number of different factors, mostly the homeowner’s insurance policy.
While some people will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars, others will receive next to nothing, even if the injuries are nearly identical. Since the amount you will receive largely depends upon the insurance policy involved, it is impossible to get even the slightest idea of how much you will receive until an investigation has been launched.
California residents who have been bitten by a dog should consult with a personal injury attorney to determine if they have the right to pursue compensation for their injuries and find out how compensation amounts are determined.
California does not hold to the one bite rule when it comes to canine attacks and will allow an individual to seek money for his or her injuries even if the animal was a docile pet up until the attack. The owner is held liable for the injuries incurred if the dog bites you, as long as the incident occurred in a public place or on the owner’s property—only if you were an invited guest. A person found to be unlawfully on the property of the animal’s owner when the incident occurred will not be permitted to collect damages.
Dog owners in California are unable to plead ignorance when their pet attacks an adult or child. In other words, they cannot formulate a defense based on them not knowing that the animal had an aggressive tendency or was capable of attacking a human. The state has eliminated all statutes that support the one-free-bite-rule that many other states still adhere to. Regardless of whether the owner was acting responsibly, such as using a leash or other restraint, he or she is still liable for the bite.
It is impossible to predict with any certainty the exact amount of money that will be awarded in a dog bite case, but there are certain factors that will influence the final decision. In general, a canine attack victim would be entitled to be compensated for all of the medical expenses associated with the incident, starting with the initial medical treatment, and any required after care. Other costs to the victim that would be included as compensation for any loss of income that is a result of the attack.
In addition to the cost of medical care and the cost of any income lost from time off from work, the jury, which decides the amount to award a dog bite victim, is allowed to consider what is commonly referred to as non-economic losses. This would include physical pain and suffering as well as emotional trauma, associated with the attack.
A per diem system is used to calculate these types of awards, where at the jury’s discretion, a monetary amount is determined for the daily physical pain and any emotional hardship that the victim has suffered. That daily amount is then multiplied by the number of days that pain and suffering went on for.
Although some attorneys would beg to differ, there is no system that will allow victims to find out exactly how much they will receive for their case, but there are certain situations that often lead to increased compensation.
Physical disfigurement and scarring will increase the amount of pain and suffering that the jury will assign and the amount insurance adjuster will feel comfortable providing. Even the location of a scar could make a difference with one on the face considered to be more emotionally traumatizing than a permanent scar on the leg or other non-visible body part.
The age of the victim could also be factored in to how much money you will get, especially in cases involving children, who may be plagued for years with the emotional scarring that is often associated with a vicious attack.
The need for on-going and future medical care will also be taken into consideration when calculating the amount of an award. The costs of plastic surgery to reduce or remove scars can also be included in a jury award or settlement.
While California State holds the canine owner at full responsibility for the actions of his or her pet, it could hurt a victim’s case if it is shown that the dog was being provoked in any way. Also, if the canine’s owner does not own a home, there is little chance that they will have an insurance company available to compensate injuries.
While an attorney is not always necessary to pursue claims for a dog bite, it is recommended that one be retained. Many special circumstances regarding the severity of the injury could dramatically change the difference in the amount of compensation. An experienced California dog bite attorney will help to ensure that all aspects of the injury are being considered, including future medical care or cosmetic surgery.
You don’t have to make the decision to hire an attorney right away. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss the details of your dog bite case and decide if an attorney is necessary under your circumstances. The medical costs resulting from your injuries will begin to pile up fast, and you will want to resolve the situation as quickly as possible to put the horrific event behind you and begin the process of healing.