What Types of Damages Are Available to Dog Bite Victims in West Covina?
After dealing with the pain and terror of a dog attack and getting medical attention for the injuries, you sit down, take a deep breath, and face the questions of what happens next. At this point, you need to know what types of damages are available to dog bite victims in West Covina. The damages you can recover will depend on whether the dog bite victim is a human or a pet, because different laws apply to each situation. This can be a difficult case, you may wish to consult with a West Covina dog bite attorney.
California has a strict liability statute that applies when a dog bites a human. Strict liability means that, regardless of who was at fault, the dog owner cannot dispute liability. If a dog bites someone who is in a public place or if the bite victim was lawfully on any property, the owner is responsible for the damages. The bite victim can be on the dog owner’s property, as long as he was not trespassing.
Under strict liability, all we have to prove is that:
- The defendant owns the dog that attacked, and
- A dog bite happened.
Depending on the facts of your dog bite case, you could get compensation for these items:
- Medical bills, to treat and repair the injuries and tissue damage from the bite. This category can include all reasonable expenses for medical care you needed because of the bite, such as the emergency room, surgery, physical therapy, psychiatric care, doctors, and prescription drugs. You can also get compensation for ongoing medical expenses to treat your injuries.
- Lost income, to compensate you for the wages you lost because of the attack, medical treatments, and recuperation.
- Decreased earning potential. If you suffered severe injuries in a dog attack, you might not be able to earn the same level of income as before the injury.
- Pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and inconvenience. This category addresses the genuine emotional suffering of being mauled.
- Disfigurement, scarring. These damages focus on the issue of having to go through the rest of your life with the visible reminders of the attack.
- Physical impairment. In a severe mauling, you might, for example, lose function of your hand, arm, or leg.
- Property damage, to compensate for your personal property damaged or destroyed in the attack.
- Possible punitive damages. California law allows you to recover punitive damages if the defendant was extremely reckless or caused intentional harm. Another term for punitive damages is exemplary damages.
The strict liability statute, unfortunately, does not apply when your pet is the victim of a dog bite, but California does provide some legal remedies in these situations.
- Under the first legal theory, pets are property. You can sue someone for injuring your pet, but you must show negligence on the part of the defendant. An example of negligence is not obeying the leash law, unless the incident happened in a location that allows dogs to be off-leash, such as a dog park. The damages you can recover are not the market value of your dog, but rather, the reasonable and necessary costs of treating the injury, including the veterinary bills.
- Common law in California provides a second legal remedy, which is strict liability if the owner knew the dog was vicious and tended to bite people. This rule of liability applies to the dog’s owners and anyone with custody, care, or control of the dog.
Posted in: Dog Bites