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Your neighbors dog bites your son, who is liable?

You weren’t comfortable when your neighbor in San Luis Obispo, California decided to get herself a Pit Bull for protection. It was cute as a puppy but it grew to about 85 pounds and became very intimidating. Finally, it happened. Your discomfort became horror when the dog got loose and bit your son while playing in his own backyard. He was injured and treated for a severe dog bite.

Now you face many medical bills including the prospect of expensive plastic surgery to help your son recover. It is important to know that California Law on dog bites imposes “strict liability” on dog owners. The owner of the dog is liable for injuries to another person for an unprovoked dog bites while the person is on public property or lawfully on private property.  The dog need not have a history of violence nor does the owner have to have knowledge of any history of violence for the standard to apply.

Your best plan of action is to contact a California personal injury attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases. These lawyers know the rules and they will work with you to prove that your neighbor is liable. They also know how to deal with the homeowners’ insurance company that may not be so willing to fully compensate you for your son’s medical costs.

A dog attack can cause lasting physical and emotional scars. Don’t wait to consult an experienced attorney who can represent your interests and help heal the wounds. Make the call now.

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The best ways to prevent dog bites

Dog bites account for millions of injuries in the United States every year. In fact, it is such a big problem that the American Veterinary Medical Association holds an annual National Dog Bite Prevention Week in order to raise awareness and educate people about prevention strategies.

By remaining aware of some of the following safety tips and teaching them to your children, you may be able to prevent a dog bite incident in the future:

  • Avoid aggressive games. Wrestling and other high-energy games are best avoided, especially with bigger dogs.
  • Stay alert. The most common victims of dog bites are children, so when your child is around a dog, be sure to monitor the situation closely. Teach your child not to act too aggressively or in a way that might startle the dog. And of course, never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be smart. Don’t reach through a fence to pet a dog or bother a dog while it is feeding puppies, sleeping or eating.
  • Don’t react. If a dog approaches you, do your best to stay still and remain calm. Avoid making any quick movements, running or raising your hands. The dog is likely to sniff you and head on its way. If this isn’t the case, avoid eye contact and try to back away slowly.

If a dog attacks you, try to “feed” something (purse, jacket, baseball mitt — whatever you have available) into its mouth as quickly as possible. If you’re knocked to the ground, cover your face, curl into a ball, and do your best to remain motionless and quiet. Once you are safe from the dog, seek medical attention if needed. Then contact a San Luis Obispo County personal injury lawyer, as you may have a claim against its owner.

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Dog bites children: Special circumstances

In most dog bite cases, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Maybe the dog owner acted negligently, but, in some cases, the victim may have provoked the attack in some way. However, in cases in which children are bitten by dogs, there are some special rules that apply in Santa Barbara County that make it a little easier to establish fault.

Under the law, children under the age of five are considered incapable of negligence. The reason for this rule is understandable enough, as young children are prone to misunderstand the risks associated with a given situation. This is particularly true in cases of dog attacks, as children are more likely to approach a dog without recognizing the threatening behavior the animal exhibits. The law and our society do not expect small children to understand the difference between friendly dogs and dangerous ones.

As a result, liability will often rest with the dog’s owner when a child is bitten. In some rare cases where a child is found to have committed a willful act of misconduct resulting in an attack, liability may be extended to the child’s parent or guardian. Even in situations where an adult is responsible for provoking an attack, a child will typically be held blameless.

If your child has been the victim of a dog attack, you may be eligible for compensation to cover medical bills, lost time at work and pain and suffering. It’s important to consult with a San Luis Obispo personal injury lawyer to determine liability based on the specifics of your case.