In California, a dog owner is strictly liable for compensating you for injuries if his dog bites you on public property, or when you were lawfully at his home or other private property. He or another person in control of a dog can also face responsibility under other California laws for a dog attack.
You're entitled to two types of compensatory damages in these cases: economic and non-economic damages.
What Economic Damages Can You Receive?
Economic damages are designed to compensate you for out-of-pocket expenses and can be measured and verified. In most cases, you should receive both past and future economic damages. They include the following:
- Medical expenses. You're entitled to reimbursement for medical expenses you incur due to a dog bite. These include hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, pain medication, and psychological counseling, among others.
- Lost wages. If you must take time off work to recover from the attack, your settlement from the dog's owner should include lost wages. Also remember to ask for any lost sick and vacation time, bonuses, commissions, and other perks of your job that you didn't receive.
- Lost earning capacity. If you had to make a career change or became permanently disabled as a result of your dog bite injuries, you may deserve compensation for lost earning capacity, which is the earnings you would have earned throughout your lifetime. Calculating this amount can be complicated, but a lawyer can determine how much you should receive.
What Non-Economic Damages Are Awarded in Dog Bite Cases?
Non-economic damages aren't as easy to calculate as economic damages. Their purpose is to compensate you not only for the physical injuries of your dog attack but also for emotional and psychological trauma. You need the assistance of an experienced attorney to help you put a value on this portion of your claim. Types of damages you can request include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Diminished quality of life
Can You Receive Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are only awarded in rare cases to punish the dog owner for especially egregious actions. You would need to show clear and convincing evidence that the dog owner’s behavior constituted fraud, oppression, or malice. You may be able to prove that he acted maliciously if you can demonstrate the owner knew the dog attacked multiple other victims in the past, or that the owner intentionally instructed the dog to attack you.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Have you or a loved one experienced injuries from a dog attack in San Diego County? You need an attorney experienced with these cases to evaluate the types of compensation you deserve and to negotiate a proper settlement.
Order my free book, The Ultimate California Dog Bite & Animal Attack Legal Survival Book, to start learning about these claims and your legal rights. Also, call my office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options and how I can assist you.