Costa Mesa Dog Bite Lawyer
Every year, Costa Mesa residents are bitten by dogs. In many cases, a person bitten by a dog in the city of Costa Mesa or any municipality may have a legal right to recover damages from the dog's owner or another responsible party. If you have been involved in a dog bite incident, a Costa Mesa dog bite lawyer is an essential member of your team. Call us at 949-203-3814 for a free case review.
Do You Have a Case?
The very first thing you should do if you are bitten by any dog is to seek medical attention immediately. If you are not treated, any dog bite can cause serious injury, infection, and even death if the canine was diseased. Once you have been medically evaluated, you should also consider consulting a lawyer with experience in dog bite cases. An attorney who deals with dog bite law will be able to tell you whether you have a legal claim, and what damages you may be able to recover.
A dog bite attorney will ask you for detailed information about the circumstances surrounding your dog bite. They will know the local laws regarding animal regulation. You should be able to provide the name and phone number of the dog's owner. If you don't have this information, find a neighbor or another witness who might be able to provide it to you. Also, if there were any witnesses, you should get all of their names and contact information as well.
Owner Liability in California
The first thing to determine is: who owns the dog? Some cities, like Costa Mesa, impose what is known as "strict liability" upon local canine owners whose dogs bite or attack. Under the theory of strict liability, a dog owner is legally responsible ("liable") for a dog bite, regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong with respect to protecting others from attack.
Under this theory, even if the owner had no reason to know that his or her dog was dangerous, if the dog bit someone, the owner would still be liable. In other states, the owner of a dog can be held liable for the injuries it inflicts, provided that the owner knew (or had reason to know) that the dog had "dangerous propensities." In other words, if a canine owner knows that his or her dog is dangerous and could cause injury to a person, the dog owner can be held liable for the dog's harmful actions.
Determining whether a canine owner knew of a dog's "dangerous propensities" can be difficult. The initial question that often arises is whether the dog owner knows of the particular dog's potential for harm, or whether the owner only needs to know that type of dog is potentially harmful. For example, when a person has a pit bull as a pet, does that mean the owner knows or should know the pet will be harmful, just because, in general, pit bulls can be harmful?
Potential Defenses in Various Dog Bite Cases
There are instances in which an owner of a vicious dog in Costa Mesa might not be held liable for an attack by the dog. For example, if the dog owner adequately warned other people that the canine was dangerous, and took measures to keep the animal away from people, a person who ignored the owner's warnings and was bitten by the dog might not successfully sue the owner. In legal terms, the injured person's behavior in such a situation is known as "contributory negligence" or "assumption of the risk." An injured person is negligent when he or she fails to exercise the degree of care for his or her safety that a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances.
For example, if a person climbs over a fence, goes into a yard and is bitten by a dog, a jury could decide not to hold the dog owner liable if they believed that a normal person would not have gone and climbed over the wall and into the yard in the first place. To use another example, if the owner puts up a "Beware of Dog" sign and a person then ignores this sign and subsequently gets bitten, the owner might not be responsible for that person's injury. If the dog owner is claiming either "assumption of risk" or "contributory negligence," however, the owner has the burden of convincing the jury of these arguments.
A dog owner can also argue that the injured person had provoked the dog. This may be a way for the owner to escape liability. If a person makes a threatening gesture toward a dog, and the dog attacks, this could eliminate the owner's liability.
Getting Help in Costa Mesa
If a dog has bitten you or a loved one, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries that resulted. Determining your legal rights can be complicated, and it may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled. To ensure that you receive just compensation, you should consider contacting a Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer with experience handling dog/dog bite cases.
If you have been involved in a dog bite situation, contact us right away or call 949-203-3814 for a free consultation. There are time limits as to when you need to file your lawsuit to be eligible.