Santa Barbara Dog Bite Lawyers
Although dogs and other animals can make wonderful pets, the fact remains: they are animals capable of wild and unpredictable behavior. Thousands of dog bites and animal attacks occur every year in California, many resulting in serious injuries and even death.
"The most important thing to do after dog attack or following an injury caused by a dog, is to identify and photograph the dog, identify the owner of the dog and get names and contact information of the witnesses to the incident."
- Doug Black
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or other animal attack, NordstrandBlack PC can help. Our Santa Barbara dog bite attorneys fight aggressively to get clients compensation for all damages – both economic and non-economic – associated with a dog bite injury. We have more than 40 years of combined experience. We handle dog bite cases on a contingency fee basis. You don't pay for our services unless you receive compensation for your injuries.
Contact us online to set up a free consultation or call our Santa Barbara office at (805) 962-2022.
Dog Bite Case Results
- $305,000.00 Settlement - Dog Bite - Scarring to Arm - Emotional Injuries
- $301,950.00 Arbitration Award - Dog Bite - Scarring - Emotional Injuries
- $102,500.00 Settlement - Dog Bite - Multiple Injuries
- $78,000.00 Settlement - Dog Bite - Re-injured Knee
- $65,000.00 Settlement - Dog Bite - Lacerations and Punctures
∗ Selected cases listed. Every case is different. Past case results are not a guarantee, and similar results may not be obtained in your case. View more case results here.
In the United States, someone has to seek medical attention for a dog bite every 40 seconds, according to the Los Angeles Public Health Department. These attacks can cause serious injuries and years of emotional trauma. Victims can be scarred both physically and psychologically, and many are also forced to take time off of work to heal.
We have seen firsthand the types of trauma that victims undergo in an attack, which include:
- Severe lacerations and cuts
- Scarring and disfigurements, including to the face
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Brain and spine injuries from being knocked over by dogs
- Infections, including the risk of contracting rabies
- Psychological trauma
Consequently, these injuries often require extensive medical care and rehabilitation. Victims should not hesitate to see a doctor immediately. Doctors can run tests to see if you require a rabies vaccination and can develop a treatment plan for your injuries.
In general, dog attacks involving children are treated in much the same way as on adults, with a few important exceptions. For one thing, due to the smaller size of children, an attack by a dog can be far more severe and have devastating consequences. Additional medical care may be necessary, and there can be long-term effects including emotional trauma and even disability. Parents should take their child to a doctor as soon as possible, of course, but also seek psychological help and therapy if needed.
If you were attacked by a dog, protect yourself. You should contact the authorities immediately so that paramedics can begin treating your injuries, especially if you sustained a severe bite or head wound. The police can investigate the dog that attacked you and get the contact information of the owner.
Even if you do not contact the police, it is important to take photos of the dog and get the contact information of the owner, as well as any witnesses. You should also report the attack to Santa Barbara’s Animal Control, which may know if the dog has attacked anyone before. Animal Control will also quarantine the dog to see if it has rabies.
Lastly, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At NordstrandBlack PC, we can sit down with you in a free consultation and explain how you can recover compensation after an attack.
In California, dog owners are responsible for paying for the medical expenses and other costs that a victim has suffered in an attack. The dog bite laws in California impose strict liability on the dog's owner, which means the owner can be held liable for injuries even if the dog has never bitten someone before (CA Civil Code Section 3342). This means that an owner cannot try to defend against a civil claim by saying that the dog was always friendly in the past and that he could not have predicted an attack. No matter what the dog's previous behavior may have been, the owner can be held liable.
However, landlords may also be found liable for a dog attack. Landlords are responsible for ensuring the safety of all tenants on their property by protecting them from dangerous conditions, which includes aggressive animals. If a landlord was aware that a tenant’s dog had a history of violence, or reasonably should have been aware of this fact, then they can be found liable for allowing a tenant to be injured. In one case handled by our firm, a 61-year-old client was violently attacked by a neighbor’s dog after she complained about it to the landlord. Our attorneys successfully held the landlord liable and recovered compensation for our client.
In cases involving dog owners, claims are covered under homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance. The State of California also has the highest rate of dog bite claims in the country, reaching nearly 2,400 claims in a recent year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Generally, these policies include up to $100,000 in compensation for dog bite victims, but an insurance company is unlikely to pay for your medical bills and other damages without a fight. Insurance companies will try to minimize your injuries if you do not work with a skilled attorney.
If the dog owner is found criminally liable for an attack, a victim may also be able to receive compensation through the California Victims’ Compensation Board.
The compensation a dog-bite victim can recover depends a great deal on the specific details of the case. In general, you can typically pursue:
- All medical bills, including past and future expenses
- Reconstructive surgery
- Psychological therapy
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In California, damages in a dog-bite case can be diminished based on any degree of negligence the victim may have shown in the situation. For example, if a dog is notably distressed and acting aggressive, but someone approaches the dog without good reason and is bitten, he or she might be seen as acting negligently. Because the victim's behavior contributed to the dog bite, the damages awarded to him or her may be reduced.
California does have exceptions which can limit a victim’s ability to receive compensation after a dog attack. If the dog was a member of law enforcement or the military and the bite occurred while in service, then the government entity that owned the dog may have immunity. Someone cannot sue the police or the military in California for dog bites that occur during a legal arrest.
Where the dog attack occurred can also influence your case. A dog bite victim can only receive compensation if the bite occurred in a public space or while the victim was legally on the dog owner’s property. If the victim was trespassing on a dog owner’s property, then it may be difficult for him to receive full compensation. However, if someone had implied consent from the owner to enter the property, such as a mailman, maintenance worker, or real estate agent, then this defense would not apply.
Another common defense is provocation, which means that the victim caused the attack by provoking, attacking, or taunting the dog. In general, this defense is only effective if the dog's owner can prove the victim caused direct physical violence against the dog. Most courts require that provocation meet the same standard for a dog attack as it would for a person to use violence to protect him or herself.
Verbal taunting and similar actions are not considered true provocation in a dog-bite case. This is especially noteworthy because the provocation defense cannot be used in cases where the victim is a child under the age of 5 or a child who was following the instructions of his or her parents.
After a dog attack, you deserve proper compensation for your injuries and trauma. These attacks can be violent and cause years of emotional upset, and in extreme cases, even death. The dog owner’s insurance company may try to delay in providing compensation or diminish your injuries, which is why you should contact a personal injury attorney who will fight for your best interests.
At NordstrandBlack PC, our Santa Barbara injury lawyers have handled numerous dog attack cases. We know that all dogs, even seemingly gentle or friendly ones, have the potential to be dangerous and destructive. We are committed to holding owners responsible for the actions of their pets and getting full compensation for our clients.
To schedule a free consultation after a dog attack in Oxnard, Ventura, or Santa Barbara County, contact NordstrandBlack PC online or call us at (805) 962-2022.
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