If you live in San Francisco and have been attacked by a dangerous dog, you may be wondering what your legal options are. At Wakeford Gelini, our experienced dog bite lawyer represents victims of dog bite incidents who live in San Francisco, Corte Madera, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Sausalito, and the surrounding North Bay cities in Marin County.
Featured Case Results
Dog Bite Injury
Client was at a municipal dog park with her dog when another dog became aggressive over a toy. Client separated the dogs and in the process suffered a bite to her thumb. The insurer for the other dog’s owner claimed it may have been the client’s own dog that bit client and denied coverage. Through aggressive advocacy, we were able to convince the insurer to reverse its denial and pay for our client’s injuries.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
A dog bite can happen when you least expect it. Our San Francisco dog bite clients often want to know what to do after a dog bite attack. Here are the steps to take if you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dangerous dog.
1. Seek immediate medical treatment.
There are serious medical risks associated with dog bites. A dog bite can cause infection or injuries that require substantial medical intervention. After a dog bite attack, call an ambulance or go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room facility. Any delay in treatment can lead to life-threatening infection or make your recovery more difficult.
2. Gather information about the dog and its owner.
If possible, get the name, address, and contact information for the dog owner. The owner of the dog may be liable (or legally responsible) for your injuries and other losses. Obtaining this information is critical to getting the financial compensation you deserve.
3. Report the dog bite attack to authorities.
You should report the dog bite to the local authorities right away. In Marin County, the Marin County Animal Control Program is handled by the Marin Humane Society. You can visit their website for more information on Marin County animal services or call (415) 883-4621 for any animal-related emergency 24 hours per day. You may also want to file a police report with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. For more information on how to do that, visit their website where you can file a police report online.
4. Take photos of your injuries and document your recovery process.
You should have your doctor or someone you trust take pictures of your injuries as soon as possible after a dog bite attack. As you recover, take periodic photographs of your injuries as they heal. You should carefully document your recovery process and keep notes of any doctor’s appointments, treatments, and the time it takes for you to recover from your wounds. Be sure to make note of your overall pain levels as well as any work you miss as a result of your injuries. This can be critical evidence in a dog bite lawsuit.
5. Contact a dog bite law firm to talk about your legal options.
After a serious dog bite attack, you might be faced with significant injuries. Even with insurance, your medical bills and treatments may be unaffordable. In addition, you may be forced to take time off of work while you recover from the dog attack.
An experienced dog bite lawyer can help you understand your legal options. You should never talk to representatives for the dog owner’s insurance company without a lawyer present. They may try to pressure you into making statements that hurt your claim or entering into an unfair settlement agreement.
Who is Legally Responsible for a Dog Bite?
After a dog bite attack, you may be wondering who is legally responsible for the incident. In California, legal responsibility for a dog bite depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack. Any one or more of the following parties may be held liable for your injuries and other losses in a dog bite lawsuit:
- The dog’s owner or caretaker,
- The landlord of the property where the dog’s owner lives,
- The owner of the residential property where the dog bite occurred, and/or
- The owner of the commercial property where the dog bite occurred.
During your initial consultation with a dog bite lawyer, he or she will want to know the address where you were when the dog bite occurred and the names of any people or other entities (like businesses or government agencies) that may have been involved in the incident. This is the first step in determining who is liable for your injuries.
California Dog Bite Law
Like many other states, California has passed a statute that applies to dog bites. Under California Civil Code Section 3342, the owner of any dog is liable for damages if:
1. The damages were caused by a dog bite, and
2. The victim was bitten in a public place, or was bitten in a private place where he or she was lawfully at the time of the attack.
This statute eliminated what was known as the “one free bite” rule. In the past, dog owners were only responsible if they knew that their dog was dangerous or aggressive. Under this new law, the “one free bite” rule no longer applies.
It is important to understand that although this statute has exceptions that apply to dog bites which occur when a dog is carrying out police work or military work, you may still be able to recover compensation from a law enforcement or other government agency if one of their dogs caused your injuries.
What About Other Types of Injuries Caused by Dogs?
A dangerous dog can cause injuries with behavior other than a dog bite. Although California’s dog bite statute only applies to injuries caused by bites, there are other theories of liability for injuries caused by scratches and other dangerous dog behavior.
You should contact an experienced dog bite lawyer to see whether any of these laws apply to your case. You may be able to recover damages from the at-fault party on the basis of negligence, negligence per se, or strict liability.
Choosing the Right Dog Bite Lawyer For You
After a dog bite, your top priority should be recovering from your injuries and getting your medical condition stabilized. By choosing a reputable dog bite lawyer, you’ll be able to focus on what’s most important because the lawyer will be responsible for handling your legal and financial issues related to the dog attack.
You should interview dog bite law firms in your area to find a dog bite lawyer with whom you feel comfortable working. During your initial consultation, don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer about the results he or she has achieved for past clients in dog bite cases. A reputable attorney may be willing to offer references or testimonials from past clients.
Contact Our San Francisco Dog Bite Lawyers Today
At Wakeford Gelini, our experienced San Francisco dog bite lawyers understand how stressful a dog attack can be. Call (415) 578-3510 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a dog bite attorney today. We work with clients throughout the North Bay and in Marin County.