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Entries in dog attack (3)

Thursday
Apr022015

Unleashed: Dangerous Dogs Directive in Los Angeles

Injury Attorney Los AngelesDog Bite Injury Attorney

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

 

Recently, a Los Angeles County woman was charged with three felony counts for failing to control her vicious dog. Her Akita attacked three separate people in less than two years – the last incident occurring in November. One of those victims was an eight year old child.

Dog Attack LawyerEarlier this month, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services issued a directive to immediately impound dogs that seriously injure people or other dogs and cats. According to NBC, the owner of these impounded dogs must then attend a Dangerous Animal Hearing at which the city will decide if the dog needs to be removed or euthanized.

In the past, criminal charges brought against the owners of attacking dogs have been rare, but we may see that happening more often, especially since the death of Diane Whipple in 2001. A judge sentenced one of the dog owners to 15 years to life in prison, for second degree murder.

A man in Lancaster, California was also convicted of second degree murder and could serve 24 years to life because of four pit bulls that terrorized the neighborhood – engaging in at least seven other attacks in the 18 months before mauling a woman walking through the neighborhood in 2013.

Last year a Michigan couple faced murder charges because their two dogs attacked and killed a passing jogger, after having attacked others in the neighborhood. In this instance, the dog owners previously failed to show for a court hearing when the dogs bit an elderly man. Additionally, animal control may also have been at fault as they merely ordered a 10 day quarantine of the animals after the dogs attacked a passer-by in 2012.

Dog Attacks & Injury Claims

According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all money paid out for homeowners' liabilityclaims in 2013. From 2003 to 2013, the average cost per dog bite claim has risen over 45 percent.

Dog Bite Fatality StatisticsNational Canine Research Council: Co-occurring factors in dog bite-related fatalities over 10 year period.In California alone the value of dog bite injury claims totaled over $64 million – the highest state amounts paid out across the nation – but not the highest average cost per claim, falling well behind New York. The average insurer's cost per claim is just over $43,100 in New York, $33,700 in California, and $31,600 in Wisconsin. These numbers cry out for the need for responsible pet ownership.

Personal injury awards for dog attacks vary case by case – it all depends on how badly an individual was injured by the dog, whether extensive medical treatment or plastic surgery is needed, and how the attack changed the victim's lifestyle in the long-run.

Additionally, a jury may award exemplary damages from the dog owner. In such a  case, a jury wishes to punish the owner for willful conduct or grossly negligent  behavior, i.e. letting a historically dangerous dog roam the neighborhood. Theoretically, exemplary damages could be awarded against the Los Angeles woman with the dangerous Akita mentioned above.

A Los Angeles County ordinance already sets procedures for dealing with dangerous dogs. Owners of vicious canines may be fined, have restrictions imposed, or be forced to give up the dog to someone else. Ultimately though, the County could order to have the dog euthanized.  

Hopefully the new directive from the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services will further help to enforce the ordnance – allowing for the immediate impounding and subsequent evaluation of these dangerous animals.

David B. Bobrosky is an experienced dog bite attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3254 or by email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Jul182013

Pets or Threats? California Law Regarding Dog Attacks

Personal InjuryDog Attack Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

How many times have you gone to the beach, only to spot someone's dog frolicking in the surf without a leash?

Many people would cast a benevolent eye on such a scene, but in truth, these dog owners are violating Los Angeles Municipal Code. Even in some dog parks it's a violation to let a dog off-leash, and by the way, the tether in question needs to be no longer than six feet long.

Vicious Dog Attack Lawyer

The reality of the matter is that whether the dog is behind a fence, on a leash, or running free – and whether or not the owner knows how aggressive his or her dog is towards people and other animals – it is the pet owner who is held responsible. (Please read my colleague's, David Bobrosky's, blog about Pitt Bull & Rottweiler Dog Attacks, for steps to take immediately after being bitten or attacked by a dog.)

California Civil Code Section 3342 states:

The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.

There are exceptions, of course, i.e. if the dog is working in a policing capacity, or when trespassers break into a dog owner's home. Aside from these situations, you should know that:

Statistically, certain breeds are more likely to be involved in serious or fatal dog attacks than others.

  1. Owners are liable for their dogs, whether the animal bites for the first time (called the one bite rule), or has attacked on other occasions – and whether the dog has been trained to fight, is in service, or is just a family pet.

  2. Owners may have to serve jail time or pay monetary fines if they are found criminally liable. They may be liable for the victim's medical bills, long-term care, increased living costs, psychological counseling to overcome trauma, and other provable damages.

  3. If a dog attacks a human and that dog has been trained to fight, attack or kill – a district or city attorney can bring a criminal action against the dog owner. A court may take whatever action is necessary to ensure the vicious animal does not attack people again. A court order could include euthanizing the animal, in addition to criminal penalties against the owner.

When a vicious dog attacks more than once, anyone can bring an action against the owner (called the two bite rule), and a court may order the dog euthanized.

 

What If a Dog Attacks Another Dog?

 

Your dog may be your best friend, and that friendship may be priceless to you.

To the courts though, there is generally a market value accorded to the dog. Usually, the value depends on the dog's purchase price, age, health, breed, training, and certain other factors.

California law is ever-changing, and this applies to a dog's value, including the emotional distress suffered by an owner of a dog suffering serious or fatal injury. Several years ago, a jury awarded a dog owner $39,000 in a veterinary malpractice suit – nearly one quarter of that constituted reimbursement for treatment, but the remaining amount compensated for the dog's unique value to the owner.

Just remember California Civil Code stated above: the owner of any dog is liable for damages

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is an experienced Dog Bite Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com or phone: (818) 907-3230 , for further information.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Jul112013

Dog Attacks: Are Pit Bulls and Rottweilers More Likely to Cause Serious Injury?

Injury Attorney Los AngelesLos Angeles Injury Lawyer

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

According to California Health and Safety Code, no specific dog breed or mix shall be declared potentially dangerous or vicious, in city or county ordinances.

But the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) says certain breeds tend to be involved in serious dog bite injuries more frequently than others: German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and mixed breeds top the list of culprits.

Statistics show that Pit Bulls tend to be more involved in fatal dog attacks, followed by Rottweilers and then Huskies, and mixed breeds – though other, miscellaneous varieties account for 19 percent of fatalities from dog maulings. In short, it's always best to be on your guard when around dogs, particularly those you don't know well.

  People still argue over whether it's the owner or the breed that is at fault for vicious dog attacks. Whatever side of the argument you fall on, consider recent headlines throughout California, over the past few months:

  • A few weeks ago, a six year old boy died when he was mauled by a pit bull owned by his uncle – a dog that according to news reports, showed no previous signs of aggression.

  • A young woman in Stockton suffered serious injury when attacked by two pitbulls while staying at a friend's house.

  • Another woman in Stockton was mauled to death by a pit bull with a history of jumping fences and attacking animals.

  • In May, a pack of pit bulls and mixed-breed dogs fatally attacked a jogger here in Los Angeles County – the dog owner was recently charged with murder.

While the above stories do not necessarily settle the argument over whether it’s the owner or the breed that is responsible for the most serious attacks, they do highlight the most important point. 

In every dog attack case we have ever worked on and in every case above, there has been a lack of responsible pet ownership.  This includes ensuring the dogs are safely restrained on the property, ensuring they are not trained to be attack dogs, ensuring they are not allowed to be in situations where they can be a danger to someone else, etc.  Regardless of the breed, the owner must be responsible for the dog.

Most dog bites don't require medical attention. But those who do suffer serious injury when mauled or bitten by a dog, may need extensive medical treatment.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 866 dog bite victims sought emergency room treatment in 2008, resulting in $54M in treatment overall. Their injuries included skin and tissue damage and infection, wounds to the head, neck and torso, bone fractures and blood poisoning. They required wound debridement, sutures, skin grafts and other surgical procedures, not to mention counseling, in some cases.

 

Steps to Take After a Dog Attack

 

If you have been hurt because of a single dog bite or a vicious attack, the first thing you should do is seek medical help. Use the following as a guide:

  1. Treatment: You need to stop the bleeding and prevent infection immediately. Additional medical services such as surgery or physical therapy can be determined later.

  2. Identification: The next step to take is to identify the dog's owner, if s/he was not present during the attack. Identifying the owner is important for several reasons.  In terms of your treatment, you need to know the health of the dog and whether the dog has received certain vaccinations.  Legally, you may need to bring a claim against the owner, which is often covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy. 

  3. Report: Contact the local animal control authority and/or police department to report the attack.

  4. Evidence: Take photos of your injuries, and the premises where you were attacked or bitten. Gather witness information. Save torn or dirtied clothing. If you ran to a vehicle or behind a fence to escape, take pictures of the exterior doors or fences/gates that may have been scratched, especially if the dog attempted to follow you inside.   

 

How to Find a Dog Bite Attorney

 

California Civil Code Section 3342 clearly states that the owner of a dog is liable for damages suffered if a person is bitten in a public place or while lawfully in a private place. If you've been attacked by a Pit Bull, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, or any other breed, you may be eligible for damages related to your medical treatment, continued therapy, psychological treatment, loss of wages and more.

We can't stress this enough: If you've been injured, get treatment first. This principle applies to any type of injury, whether you're involved in a car accident, tripped over a dangerous condition, or been attacked by a Pit Bull. Your health should be your primary concern.

Once you've received initial medical treatment, you can then look for a personal injury attorney if you feel that's what is needed. Look for a law firm experienced in dog bite cases that offers free consultations and is willing to take your case on a contingency basis (both attorney fees and costs).

David B. Bobrosky is a Dog Bite Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, for further information.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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