Dog Attacks Require Special Handling
Dog attacks are on the rise and cause uniquely painful and debilitating injuries. Such attacks often cause life-changing injuries such as permanent scarring, disfigurement, post-traumatic stress and other psychological trauma, particularly in children. Barry P. Goldberg and his team work closely with animal behavioral specialists, The Department of Animal Services and a team of highly qualified plastic surgeons to minimize the long-term injuries and maximize our clients’ recoveries. Recently, we have noticed a serious increase in biological post-bite infections which are devastating and leave unsightly residual damage.
Our firm takes immediate steps to investigate the ownership and control of the subject animal. If appropriate, we assist in reporting the attack to the appropriate authorities and obtain positive photographs of the dog. In certain cases, we will appear on our clients’ behalf to justify the quarantine and other action to isolate a biting dog. Sometimes, our expert needs to examine the biting dog in order to establish liability.
Critical in every case is to obtain professional photography of the injuries inflicted by the dog at every stage of recovery. A professionally repaired wound will not have the impact of the incredible devastation a dog attack would have at its earlier stages. In a great majority of the cases the bite occurs to the face or extremities. These scars can have a profound effect on a victim’s self image because of the daily reminder of the attack.
California’s Dog Bite Statute eliminates the “one free bite” rule in favor of strict liability. The victim only needs to show that the defendant owned the dog and that an actual bite occurred to establish liability. However, the strict liability is subject to comparative fault principles. Accordingly, the most common defense is to blame the bite victim for provoking the attack with the hope of reducing the amount of the award. An experienced dog attack lawyer can counter these defenses by discovering the history of the dog and by obtaining an opinion from an expert in animal behavior.
If actual ownership cannot be established, control of the subject animal may be sufficient to establish that the defendant was negligent in handling the dog. Because attacks often occur when a victim is attempting to separate to fighting dogs, the defense may argue that it was not the defendant’s dog that bit the victim. We have been successful in the past by obtaining an expert opinion that the bite marks matched the dental configuration of the particular dog or breed.
Because dog attacks have become a leading cause of injuries, the insurance companies have begun limiting liability by excluding certain biting breeds from a homeowners insurance coverage; such as, German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. Mr. Goldberg and his team are familiar with the insurers various attempts to limit coverage and knows how to defeat those limitations, if at all possible.
Because dog bite injuries can be so devastating, Mr. Goldberg aggressively prepares and pursues dog attack cases in order to achieve the maximum recovery for our clients. That is also why they are proudly listed in the National Directory of Dog Bite Attorneys.
To answer most dog injury related questions, we recommend viewing the comprehensive website of one of the foremost animal behavior specialists:
Animal Behavior Counseling Services, Inc.
Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D., President
Certified applied animal behaviorist