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San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyer

We handle a lot of dog bite cases and have a reputation as one of top dog bite law firms in the Bay Area. Our personal injury law firm has represented 100s of people just like you…

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MJQ Law represents dog bite victims across the Bay Area. Our skilled San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyers go to work immediately to secure compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damages victims suffer.

Contact us for a free dog bite case consultation to find out what your case may be worth.

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Who Is Responsible for Dog Bites in California?

California is a “strict liability” dog bite state. It’s a legal concept that means bite victims in San Francisco and across California can ask dog owners for support to help pay for medical care. It’s a safeguard for victims suffering from the physical wound of a dog bite and the financial hardships of paying medical bills and physical therapy invoices.

California makes it easier for you to seek dog bite recovery help, but that doesn’t guarantee full support. Insurance adjusters will try to prove that a dog bite was your fault. They’ll also look to limit the support they provide. You could end up paying for half or more of your medical bills out of your own pocket.

Strict Liability Benefits for San Francisco Dog Bite Victims

California’s strict liability dog bite statutes clear some of the legal obstacles dog bite victims might run into when requesting compensation from a dog owner.

Liability for dog bites is specifically addressed in California state law.  CA Civil Code Section 3342(a) states:

“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.”

As stated in the civil code, dog owners are held liable even if a dog has never acted aggressively before or bitten anyone previously. The dog owner is still usually legally responsible to help a bite victim.

Dogs are generally friendly, fun-loving creatures, but when dogs are allowed into a situation where they feel confused, frightened, or threatened, they can lash out instinctively. They may be on the loose and able to leave a yard to attack someone.

They may be allowed too much leash and get close enough to cause a San Francisco cyclist dog bite or a dog bite at a Bay Area dog park. The dogs can’t be held responsible, but dog owners who fail in their duty to protect others from their pets can be.

Exceptions to California’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws

The dog owner is liable in most cases, but if any of the following is true, then dog bite victims may have a harder time securing full support:

  • If the dog attack occurred on private property where the victim didn’t have permission to be, a dog bite case may be thrown out. The victim usually can’t have been trespassing or breaking into a location and then sue a property owner over a dog bite.
  • Victims can’t have provoked the dog that attacked.
  • The victim can’t have attacked the dog’s owner.
  • The victim must have suffered an actual bite. A bite that doesn’t break the skin can still be considered a bite.

What If My San Francisco Dog Attack Didn’t Involve a Bite?

Dog attack incidents that don’t involve an actual bite aren’t covered under the “strict liability” civil code which makes it easier to prove the dog owner’s liability. However, people injured in a dog attack can still file a lawsuit.

A dog attack may knock victims off their feet and cause them to take a fall injury. A dog may chase a cyclist or pedestrian into traffic to suffer an impact. Victims can file an injury claim, but they’ll face a higher burden of proof. Victims will have to show strong evidence that a dog and a dog owner caused their injury.

An experienced San Francisco Dog Bite Attorney investigates the circumstances of your dog-related injury and makes sure you have the evidence necessary to hold a dog owner responsible no matter the circumstances.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

Earning a dog bite injury settlement that covers every medical care invoice is critical to a victim’s recovery. That’s because dog bite injuries are often quite serious and can have long-lasting effects on patients.

These are just a few of the injuries treated in Bay Area emergency rooms after dog bites:

  • Crushing Injuries: In bites caused by large dog breeds, a bite might not break the skin, but the force of a bite could do the real damage. The delicate bones in the hands, wrists, and ankles are often crushed.
  • Deep Cuts and Punctures: Serious dog bites usually break the skin to inflict damage deep into the tissue. Lacerations involve a tearing of the skin and longer cuts.
  • Muscle and Tissue Damage: Tendons, ligaments, muscles, and other tissue suffer serious damage.
  • Nerve Damage: Damage to the nerves that run up and down the body is common. An injury can cause victims to feel a burning or stinging sensation. The loss of control of hands and legs may occur and be irreversible.
  • Infections: Rabies, tetanus, and other infections are possible from a bite. These infections can attack internal organs, including the respiratory system, and prove fatal.

Child Dog Bite Injuries After San Francisco Attacks

Children are naturally curious and sometimes they can approach a dog and frighten it or trigger a protective instinct. A study in the National Library of Medicine estimated that half of all children suffer a dog bite and some point in their young lives. Dog bites affect a victim’s head and neck in almost 80% of those cases.

Children’s bodies are especially vulnerable to dog attacks because they are usually going to be shorter than adults, putting them closer to the ground and closer to a dog’s mouth. Their smaller bodies can’t withstand the force of a bite as well, either. In the most tragic cases involving infants, their bodies are so tiny that a dog’s mouth is able to crush their skulls.

Unfortunately, a child’s dog bite recovery by children is much more serious than a bite on an adult. Children’s bodies are still developing and a broken bone or tissue damage might create problems later as they mature.

MJQ’s San Francisco Child Dog Bite Lawyers understand that a child victim must secure compensation for any current injuries. But they’ll also need enough support to cover complications as they grow and mature in the years to come. Our family attorneys also ensure that young victims get the emotional support they need after dealing with a traumatic dog bite injury.

What to Do After a Dog Bite Injury in San Francisco and the Bay Area

If you or a loved one with you become the victim of a serious dog bite, it’s important to take action immediately. Securing medical help is vital, but then, it’s also important to gather proof of a dog owner’s negligence in your case.

If you are left strong enough after a dog targets you or a loved one, try to gather details on the scene:

  • Call 911. Give San Francisco Police or your local police department every detail about what occurred. Police Officers or San Francisco Animal Care & Control Officers will write up a dog bite report that will serve as strong evidence in your case. Let medics check out all your wounds. Go to the emergency room if necessary. If you must leave the scene, ask someone with your or a helpful bystander to help you gather evidence.
  • Take pictures. Show your visible dog bite injuries. Take photos of bloody or torn clothing. Take pictures around the location. Show the exact location where you were bitten. Take a photo of the dog and owner if possible.
  • Locate the owner. Police officers or animal control will hopefully assist in this. Talking to residents in the neighborhood is a good way to track down a negligent dog owner.
  • Talk to witnesses. Get their contact information.
  • Don’t throw out evidence. Keep your damaged personal belongings and clothes. Don’t wash them.
  • See your physician as soon as you can get in. Get any new pain checked out. You may have a fracture that wasn’t caught by paramedics. Follow all of your doctor’s orders. See recommended specialists and complete physical therapy.

What Kind of Compensation Can my Family Receive After a San Francisco Dog Bite Incident?

Securing what’s fair from a dog owner’s homeowners insurance or renters insurance is critical for your recovery and your family’s recovery.

A San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyer will be an invaluable help in making sure every hardship you or a family member has faced is accounted for when a dog bite claim is submitted. Once a settlement is accepted, you can’t go back to an insurance company and ask for more money when injury symptoms return.

These factors and more will all be used to determine the size of your dog bite settlement check:

  • How long your recovery takes. The costs of medical care over that time and care anticipated in the future.
  • The emotional and physical anguish you are subjected to.
  • The changes in lifestyle an injury forces you to make.
  • How much work you miss while in recovery.
  • How many parties can be held responsible for your injury e.g., a dog owner, a property owner, a management company, or a governmental department.
  • Insurance limits for liable parties.
  • The skill and experience of your dog bite attorney.

This last one is more important than you’d think. An inexperienced lawyer can lose valuable compensation for a client by falling for common insurance tactics meant to limit support for victims and their families.

By utilizing a strong background in California law and effective investigative techniques, a San Francisco dog bite lawyer leaves nothing to chance. Your case will be backed by strong evidence and leave no room for an insurance company to provide you with less than you and your family need in recovery.

Contact a San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury after being bitten by a dog, you should talk over your case with a skilled San Francisco Dog Bite Attorney. Take advantage of a free case consultation with a real lawyer at MJQ Law to find out what your injury may be worth and how to make sure an insurance company accepts full responsibility.

We are compassionate advocates for accident victims and we seek settlements that protect victims and their families now and in the years ahead. To get started, please contact us as soon as you can to set up a free consultation.

There’s no obligation, but if you feel MJQ Law can help you get more for your injury claim, you don’t need to worry about how you’ll pay us. We actually don’t see a dime unless we win your case for you. Then our fee comes entirely out of the settlement you are awarded.

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    Did You Know?

    ½ of all dog bites occur on the owner’s property. (Source: Consumer Reports)
    Dog bite injuries account for 1/3 of all homeowner insurance claims. (Source: Consumer Reports)
    As of 2010, there were approximately 150,000 dogs living in San Francisco. (SFACC)
    In 2013, there were over 900 dog bite injuries in San Francisco alone. (Source: SFPD)
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