Dog Bites and Rabies Threat in San Francisco

Do I Have a Case?

My firm, The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan, represents dog bite victims throughout San Francisco. One of the most damaging aspects of these incidents involves infections and other diseases, particularly rabies. While this has largely been taken care of through vaccines, the threat of rabies is still present in any dog bite. If you or someone you know has suffered a dog bite and wants to know more about legal options, contact us today for a free consultation.

Liability and Dog Bites in San Francisco

When you get bitten by a dog in San Francisco, injuries and other damage are quite common. While this varies from incident to incident, the question of liability–or legal responsibility for covering these injuries and damages–is clear thanks to California law.

Under Section 3342 of the California Legal Code, dog owners are:

  • “Strictly liable” for the resulting injuries when their dog bites someone.

So, if you’re bitten and suffer rabies complications, the dog’s owner is the one who will be liable.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you think that there might be rabies complications from a dog bite, it’s certainly a good idea to work with our team of dog bite lawyers. Generally, you don’t need a lawyer to represent you at all if you don’t want to. But the more extensive your injuries and damages, the more help you’ll likely need. Our experienced team knows how to help you and other clients in these situations. Here’s what we can do for you:

  • Legal guidance – The first thing we’ll do is evaluate your case and explain your options to you. Whether this is filing an injury claim or a lawsuit, we’ll lay out the process and what you can expect. Our initial meeting with you is free.

  • Gathering evidence – An important part of your case is going to be the evidence that’s available. You can compile things like your medical records, pictures, videos, and other things, but our team can help you put everything together and present it. We can also talk to medical experts if you think rabies is involved.

  • Build an effective case – With evidence, records, and witness accounts, and your retelling of the incident, we’ll put together a timeline to build an effective case for you.

  • Make the process easier – Most of all, we’ll make the entire process easier on you. While suffering a dog bite can be traumatic and it’s a difficult process when you’re hurt, we can take care of the legal responsibilities of your claim, allowing you to focus on your physical recovery.

No matter what your options are, working with our team can streamline the process. You can also rest easy knowing that our experienced team has the capability to put together the strongest possible case for your damages.

Rabies Threats in Dog Bites

A dog bite, with its sharp teeth and powerful jaws, commonly leaves you or other victims with certain injuries. One significant concern associated with such injuries is the potential transmission of rabies, a viral disease carried by wildlife like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. If a dog comes into contact with an infected wild animal and gets bitten, there’s a risk of transmitting the virus to humans. Rabies symptoms can vary, but usually include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Discomfort at the bite site
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Fear of water
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty eating and breathing

What to do

While not all dogs carry rabies, state regulations require that every dog be vaccinated against it. However, some dog owners may neglect this responsibility. If bitten and there’s a suspicion of rabies, your immediate actions are crucial to being able to effectively fight against the virus. 

  • Clean the wound – Thoroughly wash the bite wound with soap and water for at least five minutes. Then, disinfect the wound using alcohol or an antiseptic solution.

  • Get medical care – Seek medical attention right away, as dog bites can result in severe injuries and potential infections, including the risk of rabies. Even seemingly minor wounds should be addressed to prevent complications.

  • Find the owner – If you’re able, get the dog owner’s name, contact information, and details of any witnesses. This information is crucial for establishing liability and pursuing legal options.

  • Report the incident to animal control – Make sure to tell your local animal control agency or police department about the dog bite. This is vital in every dog bite incident, but especially for rabies threats.  Also make sure to note your concern about potential rabies transmission and get help in locating the dog to get its vaccination status.

  • Document the incident – Take pictures of injuries and the attack location. Provide a detailed description, including the date, time, location, and information about the dog and its owner.

Following these steps not only protects your health but also safeguards your legal rights after a dog bite. While receiving rabies and tetanus shots is standard care, addressing your health and safety first allows you to focus on exploring your legal options later.

Filing a Claim and Potential Damages

Every dog bite incident carries its own unique circumstances–and trauma. Unfortunately, these incidents often involve difficult circumstances, aside from the immediate trauma of the bite and its injuries. Complications like rabies and infection only make these incidents worse. But the law is on your side. These claims are actually more straightforward than other injury claims because liability is taken care of. So, basically all you have to do is find the owner and get their information, then file your claim for damages.

Whether you decide to file an insurance claim or lawsuit, the damages you can recover in a dog bite claim includes:

  • Expenses from your medical care – These damages are for treatment costs, including hospitalization, surgeries, medications, vaccinations, and healthcare expenses. They can also include anticipated expenses for ongoing medical care like follow-up treatments and therapy.

  • Lost income or earnings – These cover any wages or income you lose during the recovery period if you’re unable to work due to the dog bite.

  • Pain and suffering – These damages cover physical pain, discomfort, and overall suffering, including fear of rabies.

  • Loss of enjoyment of life – Claims can also result in you recovering financial support for the impact on your daily activities, relationships and hobbies.

  • Emotional distress – You can also recover damages relating to the emotional and psychological distress you suffered because of the bite, like anxiety or PTSD troubles.

  • Punitive damages – In certain cases where the dog’s owner was intentionally negligent, you can recover punitive damages. These are designed to punish the owner for their negligence and are awarded on top of these other damages.

Like any claim, the extent of your damages depends on the circumstances of your case and the level of your injuries and other losses. You also have to make sure to file within California’s statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of the accident.

San Francisco Dog Bite Victims Can Count on MJQ Law

Facing a dog bite is certainly troubling, but even more so when there’s the potential threat of rabies. Fortunately, you can turn to our team at MJQ Law for help. Our experienced and dedicated San Francisco dog bite lawyers will be there to guide you through the recovery process and stand up for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation to get the recovery process started.