With approximately 85 million dogs in the United States, dog bite incidents are particularly common. Dog attacks can leave you facing severe injuries and mounting medical bills.
If you’ve sustained injuries after a dog bite in San Mateo, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation. To better understand your legal options, discuss your situation with an experienced San Mateo dog bite lawyer.
Galine, Frye, Fitting, & Frangos, LLP is ready to hear your story, and our representation can make a huge difference in what the insurance company offers you.
Consider these results we achieved for our clients:
- The insurance company offered an injured accident victim $300,000, and after hiring our legal team, the client received $4.5 million.
- The insurance company initially offered $20,000 to one client, and with our help, a jury awarded them $1 million.
Having the right representation is critical, so please contact our office for a free case evaluation today.
Table of Contents
- Dog Bite Cases in San Mateo are Common
- California Dog Bite Laws
- Exceptions to California’s Strict Liability for Dog Bites
- Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite in California?
- San Mateo Dog Bite – Frequently Asked Questions
- Consult a Qualified San Mateo Dog Bite Lawyer
Dog Bite Cases in San Mateo are Common
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), California was the leader in the number of dog bite claims in recent years. Such dog bite incidents in San Mateo happen frequently.
The dog parks in the area include:
- Los Prados Park
- Seal Point Park
- Bayside-Joinville Park
Additionally, these parks allow dogs to go off their leashes:
- Laurie Meadows Park
- Beresford Park
- Fitzgerald Park
If a dog attacks you in these areas, you can still seek compensation for your damages.
California Dog Bite Laws
Dog bite laws vary from those in other states. For example, some states have a “one bite rule,” meaning the owner is only liable for a dog bite if they knew or should have known about their dog’s vicious propensities. In one bite states, the victim has the burden to prove the owner had knowledge, which is not an easy task.
California, on the other hand, imposes strict liability on dog owners if their dogs bite an individual. Strict liability holds individuals liable for their conduct, even if it was not negligent. Under California’s Civil Code Section 3342, a dog’s owner is strictly liable if the incident occurred in a public place or lawfully on private property.
Dog bite victims must show:
- The defendant owned the dog that injured them
- The incident occurred in public or while they were lawfully on private property
- The victim suffered injuries
- The defendant’s dog caused the victim’s injuries
Due to strict liability, victims do not need to establish negligence.
Exceptions to California’s Strict Liability for Dog Bites
While California’s dog bite laws hold dog owners strictly liable, exceptions exist.
- The victim was trespassing on private property
- The victim provoked the dog
- The dog was a law enforcement or government animal
- The victim assumed the risk of a bite
There is no strict liability if an exception applies and the victim is less likely to recover.
Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite in California?
Typically, a dog’s owner is responsible for their pet. However, in certain cases, others may be responsible, including the dog’s caretaker or landlords.
Who is ultimately liable will depend on the details of your case. Determining who is responsible is critical when attempting to recover compensation for your injuries. Your San Mateo dog bite lawyer can investigate your case to decipher who is at fault.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Dog Bites in California?
Homeowner insurance doesn’t explicitly cover dog bites, but dog bite incidents might fall under liability coverage. If your dog bite incident occurs on someone’s private property, their homeowner’s insurance may cover a personal injury claim for your injuries.
While not all insurance companies have breed restrictions on their policies, some insurers do.
Some of the most commonly restricted breeds include:
- Chow chows
Therefore, if the kind of dog that bit you is on the list, you may not be eligible to recover from the owner’s insurance policy.
Frequent Causes of Dog Bite Cases in San Mateo
Dog attacks occur for many different reasons:
- The dog is defending its territory
- The dog is startled or fearful
- The dog is protecting its owner
- The dog is provoke
- The dog is sick
No matter the cause, dog bites can result in serious, life-altering injuries for victims.
Common Injuries Resulting from Dog Bites
Injuries resulting from dog attacks range in severity, depending on the details of the incident.
These injuries can include:
- Puncture wounds
- Internal bleeding
- Fractures or broken bones
Unfortunately, dog bite injuries can lead to serious infections and permanent scarring. In the worst cases, dog bites result in the victim’s death, usually after complications stemming from injuries. It is best to get medical treatment as soon as possible to limit the possibility of serious complications.
Damages Available for Dog Bite Cases in California
After sustaining injuries from a dog attack, you may obtain financial recovery. Damages for dog bites are economic or non-economic.
Economic damages relate to your injuries and are usually easier to prove.
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Rehabilitation expenses
Non-economic damages also stem from your injuries, but they often represent intangible losses, making them more difficult to calculate.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Permanent disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In special cases, you may recover punitive damages. Punitive damages aim to punish and deter when a defendant’s malicious actions contributed to your losses.
Damages can be challenging to calculate, and you may be unaware of how much you should receive for your injuries. A San Mateo dog bite lawyer can review the details of your case to determine how much you are entitled to and will fight diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
There is no average amount a dog bite case is worth.
There various factors that affect the value of a dog bite case include:
- The age of the victim
- The severity of the injuries
- The extent of medical expenses
- How long the victim takes to recover
- Whether there is any permanent scarring or disfigurement
For example, a child victim might recover more compensation than an adult because children cannot defend themselves, often sustain disfiguring dog bite injuries, and can suffer permanent emotional trauma.
Your dog bite lawyer can determine how much your case is worth depending on the details of your case.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
After a dog attack, it is not uncommon to feel confused and unsure of what to do. Following the right steps can help you recover from your injuries and protect your right to fair compensation.
Seek Medical Attention
Regardless of whether you seek medical attention at the scene of the incident, be sure to visit an emergency room or your primary care physician. Sometimes injuries are more severe than they appear to be. A thorough examination from a doctor can reveal the extent of your wounds. Once you’ve assessed the gravity of your injuries, you can begin medical treatment.
Additionally, doctors are required to report dog bites in California, regardless of the severity of the victim’s injuries.
You must follow through with all medical treatment and recommendations. Your medical records document everything, and they can play a vital role in your case.
Plastic Surgery & Dog Maulings
Reconstructive surgery is very expensive — and it can only do so much. Some permanent effects, including post traumatic stress syndrome and a damaged appearance, often remain even after all available medical treatment has been completed.
California Leash Laws & Dog Bite Injuries
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means that a dog’s owner is responsible for injuries caused by his or her pet. There is no “free bite” in California. It is true that in many areas, there are leash laws that owners are supposed to abide by. It is also true that aggressive breeds such as Rottweilers and pit bulls are known for their proclivity to harm people.
Animal Bite Victims & The Psychological Impact
Often, dog bite victims or their parents hesitate to “sue” the owner of the animal that attacked and caused injury. The dog owner may be a friend, neighbor, or family member. Sometimes, dog owners themselves are injured in animal attacks.
Regardless of how or why the dog bite occurred, if a victim has injuries or significant expenses, compensation is warranted. Initial medical treatment including prevention and monitoring for infection may be followed by reconstructive surgery and psychological counseling.
How Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Help Me?
It is never wise to handle your dog bite claim alone without legal representation. These cases can be complex and unique, requiring the help of a skilled dog bite lawyer.
Your San Mateo dog bite attorney can:
- Analyze your case
- Gather relevant evidence
- Communicate with the other party and their insurer
- Calculate damages
- Negotiate a settlement
Your chances of reaching a fair outcome in your case are better with a knowledgeable dog bite lawyer on your side.
Report Your Dog Bite Incident
After suffering a dog bite, you must report it. San Mateo Animal Control will take steps to investigate the dog bite incident, including ensuring the dog is up to date on rabies vaccinations. Reporting your dog bite can also help when it comes time to seek compensation for your injuries.
After the dog attack, collect as much data and evidence as possible.
This can include:
- Photos of your injuries and the dog
- The dog owner’s information
- Witness contact information
Any information you collect can help with your claim.
San Mateo Dog Bite – Frequently Asked Questions
What Happens to a Dog Involved in a Dog Bite Case?
California law requires dogs involved in a dog attack to quarantine, typically for 10 days. This gives agencies investigating the dog bite time to ensure the dog does not have rabies.
The dog is usually allowed to remain in the owner’s care during the quarantine, but under some circumstances, the dog may have to stay with animal control. If the dog is healthy, then animal control releases it to the owner.
How Long Do I Have to File My Dog Bite Case in San Mateo?
If you wish to sue for your dog bite, note that a statute of limitations restricts the amount of time to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations for dog bite cases in California is two years from the incident. If you fail to file your claim within two years, you will lose your right to recover compensation for your injuries.
An exception to the statute of limitations exists for minors. If the victim was a minor, the clock does not begin to run until the child turns 18. Once they turn 18, they have until their 20th birthday to file their lawsuit.
When the statute of limitations runs, you forfeit your right to financial recovery.
Do not lose your right to financial compensation. Talk to a San Mateo dog bite lawyer as quickly as possible after your dog bite incident.
Are There Any Defenses Available for Dog Owners?
Whether or not a dog’s owner has defenses available depends on the facts of the case.
Common defenses in dog bite cases include:
- The defendant exercised care when restraining their dog
- The defendant was not the actual owner or caretaker of the dog, so they are not responsible
- The dog did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff provoked the dog
- The plaintiff assumed the risk of getting bitten
Even if the opposing party presents any defenses, your dog bite lawyer can help fight against their defense in pursuit of compensation for your injuries.
Consult a Qualified San Mateo Dog Bite Lawyer
Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP has had the privilege of helping countless clients recover after suffering from a dog attack. We provide the care and compassion our clients need, all while fiercely protecting their rights to compensation for their losses.
With over 75 years of combined experience, we know what it takes to handle your dog bite claim and pursue financial recovery. Let us give you peace of mind during a troubling time. Contact us today at (650) 345-8484 to see how our firm can help you.
I retained Ilya Frangos of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos on a business litigation matter involving a frivolous lawsuit filed in federal court. Ilya guided me through the case and helped make sure that I understood the process… He always took the time to answer all my questions and helped put my mind at ease. I would highly recommend him and this firm!