Dogs usually make wonderful pets, but they don’t always behave like man’s best friend. About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by a dog each year, and many of the victims are young children under the age of 10. In some cases, the dog’s owner can be held legally responsible for the bite and be made to pay damages.

In these cases, it is important to consult with a Los Angeles dog bite injury lawyer, as an experienced injury lawyer will be able to look at the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and determine the strongest course of action for you.

California Dog Bite Laws

Different states have different standards for when a dog owner is liable for an injury caused by their dog’s bite. Some states require a victim shows the dog owner had reason to believe the dog was dangerous (such as a prior history of biting) before the owner is held legally responsible for damages. Other states, including California, have what’s known as strict liability dog bite laws.

Strict liability dog bite laws mean that in California a dog’s owner can be held liable for a bite, whether or not there was reason to believe that the dog was vicious. This applies to dog bite injuries that occur on public or private property, as long as you had the legal right to be there, and you didn’t provoke the dog. Some communities also have more specific statues and regulations. A Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can research these to see if any additional laws apply in your case.

What to Do If You or Your Child Is Bitten By a Dog

  • Go to the doctor

If you or your child has been the victim of a dog bite, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Even if a dog bite doesn’t appear to be serious, you should see a doctor if the bite breaks the skin. A medical professional can properly clean the wound to help prevent infection. In addition, if you haven’t had a tetanus shot within the past five years, you may need one if the wound is deep or dirty.

  • Get information from the owner and witnesses

If your injuries aren’t too severe, try to gather as much information as possible from the dog owner immediately after the bite occurs. This is especially important if you’re in a public place and don’t know the dog owner personally. Try to get his contact information, including phone number and address, and confirm the validity of the phone number at the scene. You should also ask any witnesses for their contact information.

  • Report the incident

If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Los Angeles County, you should report the incident to the Department of Animal Care and Control or Department of Public Health as soon as possible. An animal control officer will file a report and contact the dog’s owner. The Department of Public Health will also check to see if the animal’s rabies vaccinations are up to date, and if not, the dog will be quarantined.

Consulting a Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney

Dog bite lawyers in Los Angeles can advise you on the merits of filing a claim against the dog’s owner and/or handler. You may be able to receive damages for the following:

  • Medical bills;
  • Lost wages;
  • Pain and suffering.