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Walnut Creek Animal & Dog Bite Lawyer

In 2020, the average dog bite settlement increased to over $44,000, which is an all-time high. Since the financial stakes are so high, insurance companies often fight these injury claims much harder than they fight ATV injuries or other types of claims. Because of the complex nature of dog bite injuries, victims need and deserve every nickel of compensation possible. Since the insurance company has a team of lawyers working hard to preserve its interests, victims need the same level of legal representation.

The dedicated Walnut Creek animal & dog bite lawyers at Venardi Zurada have the resources to take on the big insurance companies. More importantly, our lawyers passionately believe that individual rights are more important than corporate profits. So, we bring all our skill and expertise to bear in every claim that we handle. As a result, we normally obtain results which exceed our clients’ expectations.

Available Legal Theories

Dog bite laws vary significantly in different states. Usually, lawmakers try to strike a balance between protecting the personal safety rights of victims and protecting pet owners’ rights to having the pet of their choice, at least within reason. The available options in The Golden State include:

  • Strict Liability: Like many states, California holds pet owners strictly liable for bite injuries. So, if victims go this route, they must only prove cause. There’s no need to prove carelessness or fault. However, the statute only applies to bite injuries. It doesn’t apply to knockdown injuries, such as broken bones. Furthermore, the law is so broad that many pet owner jurors see it as a financial penalty.
  • Scienter (Knowledge): Owners are liable for all attack injuries if they knew the animal was potentially dangerous. Evidence of knowledge usually includes pre-bite behavior, like aggressive barking and baring of teeth. Even more pet owners are willing to assess damages against negligent owners in these situations. However, the scienter doctrine obviously only applies in limited situations.
  • Ordinary Negligence: These claims usually apply to non-owners. Examples include landlords which allow their tenants to keep dangerous dogs and teachers who allow children to play near strange animals. So, these third parties cannot hide behind a technicality, like non-ownership, and evade responsibility for their dangerous behavior.

These attacks usually cause physical and emotional injuries. The physical injuries are often gruesome. The emotional injuries usually include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Possible Defenses

Provocation, which is an offshoot of comparative fault, is a defense in strict liability claims. Owners aren’t legally responsible for attacks if a victim provoked the dog.

However, provocation has a very narrow meaning in this context. For one thing, people cannot accidentally provoke dogs, perhaps by making a loud noise or a sudden move. Instead, provocation is an intentional act. Furthermore, provocation is usually a physical act which is tantamount to torturing. Teasing is not provocation in California.

The assumption of the risk defense, which usually involves a “Beware of Dog” or other warning sign, could apply in negligence cases. The mere presence of a sign doesn’t immunize owners. The insurance company must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim saw the sign, could read it, and could understand what it meant.

Work with a Diligent Alameda County Attorney

Injury victims are normally entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced animal & dog bite lawyer in Walnut Creek, contact Venardi Zurada, LLP. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.

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