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Experienced Attorneys For Dog Bite Injuries In San Diego

There are very few things worse than a bad dog bite! A dog bite is among the most sudden, frightening, and painful personal injuries to experience—and one of the most likely to cause lasting phobias, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is a traumatic event that can last a lifetime. Even a small dog can cause permanent damage and scarring, and larger, more aggressive breeds can inflict serious and sometimes fatal injuries.

Dog bite injuries can be especially severe when a child is the victim, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children between five and nine years old are at the highest risk of being bitten.

Dog bites are especially dangerous as almost 20% become infected, and the cost for care related to dog bites is about 50% more than for treatment of other injuries. Because of the small size of children, facial injuries with scarring frequently occur.  This has resulted in homeowner’s insurance companies paying out $797 million dollars in claims for 2019.  At the present time, there is a trend among homeowners’ insurance companies to limit the types of dogs they will cover for a dog bite incident, while some will not provide coverage for any dog bite.

There is quite a bit of debate as to which dogs are more likely to bite. Of course, pit bulls come to mind due, in part, to media coverage of pit bull attacks. In fact, the military bans ownership of pit bulls in their housing in many states. In California, sterilization is mandatory in order to be able to have a pit bull on military housing. However, owners of pit bulls seem to be unanimous in their trust and love for their animal companions.

Here’s what can be found in dog bite research: In early January of 2020, a study was published which examined dog bites presented to U.S. trauma centers from 2011-2019. The conclusion was that “Pit bulls are inflicting a higher prevalence of injuries than all other breeds.”  There is additional cause for concern in that pit bulls are responsible for most of the fatal attacks (66%) in the U.S., although pit bulls are only approximately 6.5% of the total U.S. dog population. Regardless of the type of dog, owners must be aware that serious injuries do occur even with “toy dogs” due to the risk of infection.

Although we would prefer that such events never happen, you can take some comfort in knowing that California law will protect you if you are bitten. This is important because California is the number-one state for dog bite injuries. All too often, dog owners do not want to take responsibility for their dogs’ behavior. Dog owners frequently believe that they are not liable for the injuries caused by their dog because the dog has never acted bitten anyone before, or even acted aggressively. California law holds that a dog owner is strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog. This means that dog owners will be held responsible without having to prove that they did anything wrong. In other words, even if the dog was always friendly, was familiar with the person bitten, treated well by the owner, or was on a leash when the bite occurred, the owner is responsible for any injuries caused by the dog. California made this a strict liability event because the state considers dog ownership to be inherently dangerous!

There are many state and local laws which an attorney must be familiar with in order to competently help victims of dog bites. We at Garmo & Garmo have experience representing those who have been bitten by dogs.  You should not have to be responsible for medical bills or lost work because of a dog bite. We will help you obtain fair compensation for your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We welcome your call so that we can be discuss your case without any charges to you. Let us be of assistance with this traumatic situation.

The dog bite injury lawyers at Garmo & Garmo, LLP know how to pursue compensation from dog owners and insurance companies, while applying appropriate discretion to avoid disputes between friends, neighbors, and family members. We say this because dog bites can happen anywhere but often occur in familiar environments. For example:

  • A dog may have chased and bitten you while you were walking or jogging
  • Dogs are known to lunge at bike riders and skateboarders
  • A neighbor’s dog may have bitten you when you went to get the mail
  • A friend’s dog could have even attacked you or your child in their home

In California, dog owners are responsible for the acts of their dogs. This means the owner of a dog is almost always subject to strict liability for the injuries his or her dog causes, regardless of whether the dog had a propensity for viciousness.

California does not follow the “one bite rule,” which basically gives dog owners a free pass if a dog has never bitten anyone before and the owner had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. Rather, dog owners in California are always responsible for their dogs, no matter how “sweet,” young, old, possessive, anxious, damaged, etc. Even on the owner’s private property, the owner is responsible for his or her dog’s actions.

While a California dog owner cannot raise a dog’s personality as a defense, there are a few situations where the owner may not be liable for dog bite injuries. These defenses include provocation, trespassing, and illegal acts. Our dog bite injury lawyers are familiar with these defenses and know how to overcome them for the benefit of our clients. For example, simply because a dog bite occurred on private property does not mean the victim was trespassing; likewise, reaching out to pet a dog is not provocation.

No matter the circumstances surrounding a dog bite injury, the owner of the dog may be held liable for medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages arising from the attack.

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, the law supports your right to hold the dog owner responsible, and the experienced legal team at Garmo & Garmo is ready to build a strong case on your behalf. Call our office in El Cajon today at 619-441-2500 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.

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Garmo & Garmo LLP office update (July 2, 2020)

Garmo & Garmo, LLP’s physical office is still open to assist you with your legal needs. We are following guidelines provided by the County of San Diego and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Please keep the following in mind when coming into our physical office:

1. Please do not enter our office if you have any of the following symptoms:

a. Fever or chills
b. Cough
c. Shortness of breath
d. Fatigue
e. Muscle or body aches
f. Headache
g. New loss of taste or smell
h. Sore throat
i. Congestion or runny nose
j. Nausea or vomiting
k. Diarrhea

2. For the safety of our staff and others, all sick clients/visitors may not enter our office.

3. All clients/visitors must wear facial coverings while in our office at all times.

4. Unless necessary, in-person meetings will not be held. Our office can conduct phone meetings or video meetings with clients/visitors.

5. Please always practice social distancing while in our office, which includes maintaining a minimum of six feet from others, including our staff.

We are closely monitoring the latest advisories from the County of San Diego, the Centers for Disease Control and the local court system. We will update our policies as we receive new information.

We appreciate your patience and confidence in Garmo & Garmo LLP’s ability to serve you.