Animal Attack and Dog Bite ATTORNEYS
Animals are a beloved source of companionship and comfort for many. But the reality is that thousands of people are seriously injured by dogs and other animals every year. The injuries resulting from an animal attack can be severe, potentially requiring surgeries, skin grafts, physical rehabilitation, and other medical interventions. Throughout all of this, it can be difficult or impossible to provide for the needs of your family.
Penney & Associates has represented hundreds of victims of animal attacks and dog bites across California, winning clients the fair compensation they deserve. We are ready to help you hold those responsible for your injuries accountable for their actions and negligence, so that you can focus on caring for your family, recovering your health, and reestablishing your sense of wellbeing.
YOU CANAFFORD OUR LEGAL SERVICES
At Penney & Associates, we understand that when people come to us after a dog bite or other serious animal attack, they are already under a lot of stress, and likely are still wrestling with the physical and emotional trauma that often lingers after these incidents.
We want to make our services accessible to those in need, and that is why we offer free consultations for personal injury clients. Additionally, Penney & Associates operates on a contingency basis. This means that we are only paid when we win, based on the damages you recover.
While walking in a public park, Christina Khang was bitten by a Rottweiler. The defendant’s young son was holding the leash of the dog, but unfortunately, the boy did not have the strength to stop the dog, which pursued Ms. Khang and bit her without provocation.
Ms. Khang suffered bite injuries to her arms and the top of her head. The defendant’s homeowner’s insurance provider agreed to pay the policy limit of $300,000, negating the need for litigation. Stewart P. Galbraith of Penney & Associates represented Ms. Khang.
WHY HIRE AN EXPERIENCEDANIMAL ATTACK AND DOG BITE ATTORNEY?
To give your claim the best chance of success, it is critical that you hire attorneys familiar with California’s laws, and with the various tactics used by insurers to avoid paying out policy maximums. The attorneys of Penney & Associates combine over a century of collective experience in personal injury law within the Golden State. We understand how the law works, and can give your claim the best chance to succeed.
According to California Civil Code § 3342 (a):
The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
The law is quite strict when it comes to damage and injuries inflicted by a dog upon an unsuspecting victim. Whether you are in a public place or step onto someone’s property for lawful purposes—delivering mail or packages, making a sales call, introducing yourself to a neighbor—a dog’s owner is fully liable for any bite injuries and resulting complications.
To challenge this, dog owners have accused their animals’ victims of being the instigator of the situation leading up to the attack. Some attacks have famously been captured on video, but others have relied solely on the accounts of both the owner and the victim. A lack of evidence, combined with counterclaims by the animal’s owner, can drag litigation on for months, even years.
Penney & Associates knows the various tactics our clients potentially face. We work with independent experts to help corroborate your claims. Additionally, many of our attorneys have worked in the insurance industry, and know exactly what a claims adjuster will say to try and catch victims in contradictory statements. And while many claims often end up settled out of court, we are experienced and skilled trial lawyers with a track record of success.
HOW YOU CAN PREPARE TO FILEA DOG BITE INJURY CLAIM
In the aftermath of any dog bite or animal attack, filing a claim may be the last thing on your mind. But there are some things you can do in order to prepare for a lawsuit even before you hire an attorney.
- Call the local authorities to report the attack as soon as possible. The local Animal Control office or other municipal authority can help capture or otherwise detain the animal in question.
- Retain copies of all medical paperwork. From medical bills to doctors’ records, this is valuable information that can reinforce your claims against the dog owner.
- Get witness contact information. If your attack has no video evidence, the next best thing is an eyewitness account. Try to get in touch with any witnesses if possible.
- Preserve the clothing worn during the attack. Your clothes are direct evidence of the nature of the attack.
- Take pictures of where the attack occurred. If it occurred near or at the owner’s home, you could preserve evidence of a lack of fencing or security.
- Keep financial records, medical and insurance bills. Tracking the pay lost from being unable to work, and the bills you have struggled to pay off, will show that the attack is a physical and financial burden.
- Limit social media use. Insurance companies and lawyers will monitor your social media for any evidence that your injuries are not as severe as claimed.
ARE SPECIFIC DOG BREEDSMORE LIKELY TO BITE?
Roughly 4.5 million Americans are attacked by dogs each year, with an average of 30 to 50 people dying from these injuries. Most of these attacks happen with little warning. There is a public perception that certain breeds are more dangerous than others. In 1996, the CDC released a study showing that pit bulls and Rottweilers were the two breeds most commonly responsible for fatal dog bite attacks. Both breeds have a reputation of being more likely to attack strangers, or even people they know, and their attacks often make headlines.
But a study in 2013 suggested that breed alone is not the primary determining factor in dog bites, though certain breeds are more dangerous when they do bite. But who the owners are, and how the dog has been trained, are often the most critical factors. Dogs have been bred for their intelligence, strength, and aggression. Many such dogs live peacefully without incident. But without proper training, socialization, and safety precautions, these dogs can “snap,” seemingly without warning.
Most dog and animal attacks are the result of negligence on the part of the owner or handler of the dog. Most dogs involved in these attacks are often poorly trained, the owners do not exercise proper control, or they do not take appropriate measures to keep the dog on the property, allowing it to roam free. An aggressive dog without proper supervision or restraint is a combination that has proven deadly.
HIGH RISK DOG BREEDS
Dogs of nearly any size, disposition, and breed can inflict serious bite injuries. Some dog breeds are considered to be particularly dangerous due to their involvement in many serious attacks, which has led many insurance companies to refuse covering certain breeds, or to require a higher premium and level of coverage.
Breed does not mean that a dog is inherently dangerous, but it is important to remember that certain breeds have been bred specifically for aggression, as well as the specific physical traits that facilitate deadly attacks. Some dogs have evolved powerful bites, with wide jaws and teeth that allow them to cause far more damage than other breeds. Breeds that are particularly high risk include:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Cane Corsos
- Chow Chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Pit Bulls
- Presa Canarios
- Siberian Huskies
- Wolf Hybrids
IMPROPERLY REGISTERED AND TRAINED EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALSPOSE A GROWING PROBLEM
Emotional support animals (ESAs) have made the news in the wake of attacks at airports and even aboard airliners. Pet owners have been using fraudulent businesses to “register” their dogs as ESAs online. The result is that these animals, lacking the qualifications or training that proper service dogs undergo, are placed into environments for which they are poorly suited, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, sights, and sounds.
This problem is not limited to air travel. People have been attempting to bring exotic animals or poorly trained pets into public spaces, using the ESA designation as a means to get around rules that would otherwise restrict other animals.
Owners of emotional support animals are still expected to ensure that their animals are under control. These owners can be held liable for injuries caused by their ESA.