How to Take Legal Action for Dog Bite Victims
Dogs may be considered cute, friendly and harmless — but are equally unpredictable and aggressive. Dog bites are a common and painful occurrence all across the country. The United States sees an average of 4.5 million dog bite victims per year.
If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you can hold the owner liable for damages. In states like California, the laws allow dog bite victims to hold the liable party (the dog owner) strictly responsible for the incident. The strict liability rule states that the owner is responsible as long as:
1. The victim was bit in a public place or when lawfully present on a private property
2. The victim was actually bitten by the dog
You recover damages for their injuries and expenses after fulfilling these conditions. The only exceptions to this law include:
1. If the victim was trespassing when they were bit
2. If the dog was a military or police dog acting in accordance with the agency’s responsibilities or in defense of an official or innocent person.
Types of Damages for Dog Bites
You can be compensated for your economic losses (like medical bills, loss of wages etc.) and non-economic losses (like pain, suffering, emotional damage etc.). The person can receive compensation for the following reasons:
- Medical bills
- Humiliation from permanent scarring
- Physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Counseling sessions
- Loss of future opportunities/earning capacity
If the owner has exhibited negligence or malice, the person bit can also sue for punitive damages (damages intended to penalize the owner). For this, dog bite victims must provide clear and convincing evidence of the defendant’s malicious behavior.
Any willful disregard of safety is considered particularly bad behavior and can be penalized by the court to serve as a lesson to the negligent dog owner.