Petaluma Dog & Animal Attack LawyerDogs and other animals make great pets and can provide owners with years of love and affection. However, even dogs that are loving with their own family members can snap, especially when around people they are not familiar with. Dog bites and animal attacks can result in severe, life-altering injuries for those unfortunate enough to experience them. At Henderson Law, we proudly represent children and adults who were the victim of these vicious attacks. Our Petaluma dog attack lawyer has successfully represented dog bite victims in Sonoma County for more than 20 years and knows what it takes to get you and your family compensation to make you whole.

California Law for Dog Bites

California is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. This means when a victim sues a dog’s owner after an attack, they do not need to prove the owner knew their dog was dangerous or that the dog had bitten someone in the past.

However, there are a few requirements that must be met for strict liability to apply. First, strict liability only applies when a victim’s injuries are the result of a bite. For example, if you tripped and fell because a dog was chasing you, strict liability would not apply. Second, for strict liability to apply, the dog must have attacked the victim while they were either in a public place or somewhere they were permitted to be. That means strict liability would apply if your neighbor’s dog bit you while you were visiting their house for dinner, but it probably would not apply if you jumped the neighbor’s fence without permission to retrieve a ball you threw over the fence.

If strict liability does not apply, that doesn’t mean a victim will be prohibited from recovering compensation for their injuries. Instead, it only means that to receive compensation, the victim must prove the dog’s owner was negligent. Examples of situations where a dog owner may be negligent include when an owner walks their dog in a public place without a leash or when an owner allows their dog to roam in an unfenced yard.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

While some breeds of dogs are more dangerous than others, almost every breed of dog is capable of attacking and injuring a human. When a dog attacks, it can cause serious, and even fatal, injuries. Some of the most common dog bite injuries include:

  • Facial injuries,
  • Broken bones,  
  • Eye damage,
  • Nerve damage,
  • Severe scarring,
  • Neck injuries, and
  • Emotional trauma.

Additionally, about 50 percent of dogs carry potentially deadly bacteria in their mouths, such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, pasteurella, and capnocytophaga. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 percent of people who develop a serious capnocytophaga infection die. The signs of a capnocytophaga infection include:

  • Blistering around the affected area;
  • Fever;
  • Headaches;
  • Muscle or joint pain;
  • Redness, swelling, and pain at the site of the bite; and
  • Stomach pain or vomiting.

Given these risks, it is imperative that victims promptly seek medical care after an attack. While doctors may not be able to prevent an infection, they can ensure you receive the appropriate treatment.

Damages and Remedies for Dog Bite Victims in Petaluma

Dog bite victims who successfully pursue a claim against an animal’s owner are entitled to recover monetary compensation for their economic and noneconomic damages. While damages awards vary, some of the most common types of damages sought in dog bite claims are:

  • Past and future medical expenses,
  • Lost wages,
  • Decreased earning capacity,
  • Pain and suffering, and
  • Decreased quality of life.

Even if your injuries initially appear minor, it is a good idea to consult with a Petaluma dog attack lawyer to ensure you identify the full extent of your damages.

What to Do After a Dog Bite or Animal Attack  

If a dog attacks you, what you do in the aftermath can have a major impact on both your health and your ability to pursue a claim against the animal’s owner. Below are important steps to take after a dog bite or animal attack:

  1. Immediately wash the affected area with soap and water.
  2. Report the attack to Sonoma County Animal Services.
  3. Document where the attack occurred.
  4. Write down the name and address of the animal’s owner.
  5. Ask for the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the attack.
  6. Go to the emergency room, an urgent care center, or your primary care provider as soon as possible.
  7. Keep an eye out for signs of infection.
  8. Contact a Petaluma dog attack attorney.

By following these steps, you will protect your health and protect your right to file a lawsuit

Will the Animal Be Euthanized After an Attack?

In most cases, dogs are not euthanized after they attack someone. The exceptions to this rule are if the dog has rabies, has a history of attacking humans, or if the dog was trained as an attack dog. If a dog has rabies, it is immediately euthanized without a hearing. However, in all other cases, the court will hold a hearing before euthanizing the animal. The question the court needs to answer in this hearing is whether the dog poses an ongoing threat to public safety.  

Learn More About Bringing a Petaluma Dog Bite Claim

If you want to learn more about your legal options after an animal attack, a Petaluma dog attack lawyer at Henderson Law can help. At Henderson Law, we have more than 25 years of hands-on experience investigating, negotiating, and litigating all types of personal injury claims, including dog bite and animal attack cases. Our Petaluma dog attack attorney cares deeply for each client and aggressively pursues maximum compensation at every stage of the process. Your consultation is always free, and if you decide to bring a claim with us, we will only bill you for our services if we can recover compensation on your behalf. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, contact us by phone or online.