Orange County Dog Bite Attorney
With Offices in Huntington Beach
Do you need legal help?
Orange County Dog Bite Attorney
With Offices in Huntington Beach
Do you need legal help?
- Georgia Cunradi
- D. Franklin Welch
- J. Weber
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Orange County Dog Bite Attorney
Dog bites are always frightening, even if the dog didn’t intend to injure you. When you’ve been bitten by a dog due to its owner’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation.
If you’re reading this, you may have been bitten by a dog because the owner was careless or negligent. You’re probably in pain. You may have missed work, causing financial strain. You are probably looking for someone to help you with a dog bite claim.
We are here to help. Timothy J. Ryan & Associates offers free legal consultations. Call our Orange County dog bite attorney today.
Please don’t hesitate to call us because you’re worried about needing money upfront to pay for the answers you need. Just give us a call and schedule your free legal consultation; we’d love to help you get clarity about your claim.
The information on this page will help you understand your dog bite claim. First, we’ll share the many ways you can unintentionally damage your claim. After that, we’ll share a client story in hopes of answering a few more questions you may have. Please read to the end to learn as much as possible.
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite injuries. Strict liability means the owner of the dog is liable for all serious injuries that occur due to the dog bite. And, the dog owners or owner of the dog is liable whether or not the dog has had a history of being aggressive and causing someone to sustain dog bites. This means that even if it is the first time the dog has bitten someone, and the owner of the dog had no prior warning that they would do such a thing, they are still liable for any serious injuries that happen.
When a person is a victim of dog bites in the state of California, they have to provide proof of the dog bites and proof of ownership of the person responsible for the dog. And, since there is a strict liability law in California the person who owns the dog will be liable for the injuries caused to the victim. Therefore, negligence is not essential to prove in a dog bite accident in California. But, there are ways that a dog owner can be negligent and cause dog bites to occur.
In Huntington Beach and the rest of Orange County, there are strict laws that state you must have your dog on a leash at all times if they are not on your property, and the leash must not be more than six feet. Also, you can not tie up a dog on your property or outside a shop or restaurant. And, if a dog escapes from someone’s property and the owner does not do everything in their power to stop the dog from attacking, this can be seen as negligence, as well. Therefore, these are some behaviors to look out for if you have suffered from dog bites. Contacting a Huntington beach dog bite attorney, like our ready and willing staff, can help to clear up any confusion about this topic.
Common Dog Bite Claim Mistakes
There are several mistakes that can jeopardize your claim before you realize it. The good news is, having an awareness of these mistakes makes them easy to avoid. Please review them to keep your claim as strong as possible.
Not Going to the Hospital After the Accident
It may be difficult to believe, but it’s possible to not realize you’ve been seriously injured — at least, for a while.
In traumatic situations, the body almost always kicks into “fight or flight” mode. This is a biological defense response in which stress hormones provide extra energy and strength, while pain recognition is dampened. The combination temporarily gives us a better chance at continuing to fight or run away, if necessary, even if injured.
The problem with fight or flight is that in today’s age, the best response is often to remain still and wait for medical care.
The surge of adrenaline that comes with the fight or flight response can last for up to 18 hours. This can enable an injured person to walk away from an accident only to realize hours later that they aren’t all right, after all.
No matter how you feel after a dog bite, it’s best to get to a doctor for an exam. In addition, if at all possible, it’s crucial to find out whether the dog is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination.
Seeking medical care right after a dog bite is going to safeguard your health. It will also protect the value of a dog bite claim, because the official record created will provide documentation of your injuries.
The quicker you get to a doctor, the closer the record of your injuries will align with the timeframe of the accident.
Without this evidence, your claim will not be nearly as strong as it could be. The insurance company knows this and may try to use the gap between the accident and medical exam to suggest you were injured in an unrelated situation on a different day.
If they succeed in throwing doubt on your claim, they may be able to reduce its value.
Protect your physical wellbeing and the value of your claim. Get a medical exam as quickly as possible after you’ve been injured by a dog bite.
Disregarding Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan
When you get checked at the doctor, you will be sent home with a treatment plan. It is very important to follow these instructions.
It’s not uncommon after a dog bite, for example, to be instructed to take antibiotics to ward off infection. This type of medication usually requires being taken and finished according to schedule to be effective.
There are numerous ways you can be asked to follow a treatment plan, such as a stretching regimen or occupational therapy appointments. It’s important to do whatever it is that you are instructed to do and to refrain from doing what may be too strenuous until you recover.
In addition to protecting your health, following your treatment plan will again help prevent the insurance company from devaluing your claim.
For instance, it’s often important to not submerge dog bite wounds in water in the first week or so. If your wound becomes infected and the insurance company discovers you went swimming in a canal during your recovery, they may try to blame the infection on your swim.
Whenever the insurance company can deflect blame for your condition from them onto you, the value of your claim is at risk. Be diligent about adhering to your doctor’s treatment plan.
Agreeing to a Recorded Interview with the Insurance Company
After your injury, expect the insurance company to call asking for permission to record your statement about what happened. Agreeing to this is a mistake.
The insurance adjuster will be happy to let you think the goal is to get your claim buttoned up and processed as quickly as possible, but the call is for the benefit of the insurance company, not you.
The adjuster will probably sound very empathetic and make you feel at ease. Remember that the more you say, the better your chances of unwittingly giving them something that can be used to deflect blame away from them. If they succeed, it will reduce the amount of money they are required to pay you.
Speaking to the insurance company is a mistake a lot of people make, because they assume it’s required to get their claim processed. The insurance company is a big authoritative entity with lots of regulations. If you don’t take the call, they may reject your claim, right?
The truth is, you are under no obligation to speak to the insurance company without your attorney’s guidance. In fact, your best bet is to refer these calls to your Orange County dog bite attorney.
Waiting too Long to Hire an Attorney
There are three main reasons people make the mistake of waiting to hire an attorney.
Some people intend to get to it, but are overwhelmed with their dog bite injury and put it off for a later date. This is understandable, but if it applies to you, please make sure you set up a reminder to select an attorney as soon as you possibly can.
A second reason people wait to hire an attorney is they plan to represent themselves to “save money.” The problem with going this route is that historically, people without attorneys are compensated many times less than those with skilled legal representation.
Even if you are a master negotiator, remember that you are probably in a vulnerable place right now. Taking on an insurance company a difficult task. The insurance company knows this; don’t underestimate their willingness to take advantage of your vulnerability.
The insurance company knows that without an attorney, the negotiation phase is likely your first and last move. If you don’t succeed in negotiating a settlement, you aren’t likely to sue them and win a case against their lawyers by yourself.
Sadly, this fact can instigate a series of stall tactics and claim denials. If they wear you down, at best, they may succeed in getting you to give up and go away. If not, by the time they toss you a lowball offer, you may actually take it. After all, you don’t know whether they’ll be another.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know when an offer is worth considering or rejecting. He or she can also assess your damages to make sure you don’t leave money on the table when negotiating a settlement in the first place.
The insurance company won’t be able to take advantage of your attorney with tactics like requesting a recorded statement.
Plus, simply having an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner can sometimes get the insurance company to hash out a fair settlement to avoid facing that attorney in the courtroom.
When you look at the benefits, it’s easy to see why hiring a qualified personal injury attorney is to your benefit.
The third reason some people wait to find an attorney is they believe the statute of limitations gives them plenty of time to get around to starting a claim.
If you’re going by how long the state of California gives you to file your claim, you may not realize the evidence will be long gone well before you need to worry about any deadlines.
The strength of your claim is going to rely heavily on the strength of your evidence. You’ll need to prove that the dog bite was due to the owner’s negligence. This means proving that the owner knew there was a danger and didn’t do anything to protect you.
Getting started as early as possible gives your lawyer the best shot at locating evidence and getting witness testimony. As sad as it is to say, evidence can disappear, given the chance. In a dog bite case, the dog itself may be considered evidence.
If you wait seven months to address your claim, for example, that dog may be nowhere to be found by the time you file. It can be hard to prove connections without evidence.
Give your Orange County dog bite attorney the best chance to build you a strong claim by getting started as soon as you can.
Hiring the Wrong Attorney
Many people make the mistake of thinking that any lawyer can get them the same results. This kind of “one-size-fits-all” thinking can ruin your case.
When seeking a lawyer for your dog bite claim, it’s important to hire an experienced personal injury trial lawyer.
Like doctors, lawyers almost always have specializations. If you needed heart surgery, you’d look for a good cardiologist. It’s the same way when filing a personal injury claim. Look to a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law; finding one experienced in dog bite claims is even better. In addition, make sure that your attorney is a trial lawyer.
Most cases are resolved by settlement. Some, however, must go before a jury to bring adequate compensation to the victim. If your claim ends up in the courtroom, you’ll need a lawyer who’s got the skills to win at trial.
Since California is a strict liability state, the dog bite victim is owed compensation for any pain and suffering caused to them due to their dog bite injury. Pain and suffering are caused by the injuries and the emotional stress suffered because of the dog bite. A victim of a dog bite can suffer wounds, scars, and infections, resulting in doctor or hospital visits. Also, the bite may result in the victim having to miss work or go to a therapist to help them through issues they can suffer, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety from the event.
The dog owner is liable for these expenses because their dog is the cause of them. If you suffer dog bites from dog attacks, you should call a professional and experienced dog bite attorney to help you receive compensation for your pain and suffering.
In many cases, an owner of a dog will have renters insurance or homeowners insurance, which usually covers the matter of dog bites that happen on their property. Therefore, the renters or homeowners insurance the dog’s owner will cover any pain and suffering that has occurred due to a dog attack. Although, there are some cases where the owner of the dog is not covered by their insurance because some insurers will not cover more aggressive breeds, like Pit Bulls or German Shepherds.
Suppose the owner of the dog’s insurer will not cover the cost of injuries. In that case, you will want to contact a professional and experienced dog bite lawyer to receive the compensation owed since you are dealing with the actual person and not their insurance. And, even if the person’s renters insurance will cover the costs of the pain and suffering, it still may be wise to contact a dog bite lawyer that way, they can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. You do not have to worry about saying the wrong thing or getting compensation lower than you deserve.
Talking to insurance companies can be tricky and you do not want to say the wrong thing. Our experienced and professional team at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates can help you file a dog bite claim easily. Be sure to call our offices today to discuss the claim process and what we can do for you.
Orange County Dog Bite Client Story
Late on a warm spring afternoon in Huntington Beach not so long ago, Alicia Jones and her mother Tamara knocked on her neighbor’s doors, selling popcorn to raise money for the end-of-the-year class trip. They’d managed to get several orders, and Tamara was about ready to call it a day.
“Allie, I think we’re good, baby, let’s get home,” said Tamara, checking the time on her phone.
“Wait! One more. I want to say, ‘Hi’ to Sam and Oden,” said the exuberant sixth grader, opening the gate to her classmate’s front yard.
“Allie hold on, there’s a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign!” Said Tamara, rushing after her daughter.
“Everyone around here has dogs, Mom. Oden’s a big baby,” Allie assured her mother, knocking loudly on the door.
Tamara was still nervous. She loved dogs of every make and model. Unfortunately, however, here in her very own neighborhood, people were often their dog’s worst enemies. Too many ruined loyal, loving animals by ‘training’ them to fight.
“Okay, baby, nobody’s home, let’s go,” Tamara said, turning to leave. As the gate clicked shut behind them, a low growl raised the hair on the back of Tamara’s neck from behind the screen door of the neighbor to the left. She froze and Allie bumped into her.
“Mom!” she squealed, laughing. At the sound, a muscular pit bull hurtled through the screen as if it were tissue paper and ran straight at them. Tamara had just enough time to lift Allie and drop her back over Sam’s four-foot black metal fence before the dog launched off the ground.
Tamara crossed her arms in front of her face as 70 pounds of canine fury slammed into her torso. She hit the ground hard with the dog clamped onto her forearm. The neighbor across the street heard Allie’s screams and came running. He yanked the dog backward by its rear legs and it let Tamara go. He kneeled on the dog’s shoulders and the back of its head as he dialed 911.
Animal control took the dog away and made its very irate owner produce proof of a rabies vaccination.
Tamara spent the night in the emergency room. Her forearm had been badly mauled. A bone was broken and she needed thirty-two stitches. She also had a concussion from the fall.
When Tamara’s husband, Trey, brought her home the next day, her arm looked like it belonged to the Bride of Frankenstein. He let her know Allie had barely slept. She’d been traumatized not only by the attack, but by seeing the dog carted away to certain death.
“Why do people wreck their dogs?” Tamara asked, sadly. “No matter how strong a dog is, they aren’t born vicious. It’s people that do that to them. Makes me feel so angry and helpless.”
Tamara suffered nerve damage to her fingers after the attack. Because the dog had bitten her dominant hand, she missed two weeks of work. When she finally returned, she found she lacked the dexterity she’d had prior to the attack, due to not having all the feeling back in her fingers.
She ended up back at the doctor’s office.
“Most of your healing is going to take place in the six to twelve-week zone, Tamara,” the doctor said. “But if you continue to have numbness in your fingers, we may need to refer you to a specialist for another surgery.”
That night after putting Allie to bed, Tamara and Trey sat down to look at their finances. The bills were piling up but she was unable to work. In addition, their high insurance deductible meant they’d have to pay some of the emergency room bill out-of-pocket on top of their other expenses.
As they sat there in the kitchen in front of the laptop, watching their online bank balance dwindle, Trey showed Tamara the website of Timothy J. Ryan & Associates. He told her about his long and successful record in personal injury, including dog bite claims.
“I think we need to find out more, Tam,” he said. “Let’s at least book a free legal consultation.”
Tamara scrolled through the site with Trey. “Look at all these reviews,” she said. “Looks like his clients are happy.”
A high-pitched wail jolted their attention upstairs. Allie was having another nightmare. “I’ll get her,” said Trey, leaving the kitchen in a hurry.
How much does it cost to hire an Orange County dog bite attorney?
We met the Joneses two days later in our Wilshire Boulevard office in LA.
“Before we get too far, we need to know how much it will cost to retain you,” Tamara said, adding, “I have been unable to work these past two weeks. I tried to return but it looks like I’ll be out for at least another week or two. And there may be another surgery, depending upon whether the feeling returns to these two fingers by then,” she said, wiggling the middle two fingers on her right hand.
Attorney Ryan explained that the firm works on a contingency-fee model. “The firm will cover all expenses associated with your claim. Minimally, that will include an investigation, possibly research, and if necessary, a trial.”
“What’s the catch?” Trey asked, hiking one eyebrow and grinning broadly. “Who pays you?”
“There is no ‘catch,’” Ryan assured them, used to the question. “We get paid only after we’ve brought a successful resolution to your claim.”
“Well, I guess that works for everybody,” Tamara said, looking at Trey, who nodded in agreement.
How much is my claim worth?
“So, how much is a dog bite claim worth?” Tamara asked.
“That’s a very good question, Tamara. Unfortunately, it would be irresponsible of me to spit out a random number without first doing an investigation and second, understanding your damages, both economic and non-economic.
“The investigation can get underway right away,” Attorney Ryan said. “We prepare every case as if it’s going all the way to trial, to make absolutely sure we’re ready for anything.
“As to assessing your damages, we’ll need you to reach ‘maximum medical improvement.’ This is the point at which your doctors would agree that you have recovered back to your ‘normal’ level of health.
“If you are unable to return to that level of health, then maximum medical improvement is going to be when you’ve recovered as much as you are able from your injuries. We’ll need to be sure you’re finished with surgeries and we’ll need a good idea of what any future care of your injuries is may require.
“When you reach maximum medical improvement, we’ll understand your damages and know what your claim’s value is.
“What we’d need from you Tamara, is your commitment to focus your energy on recovery. Make sure you attend all of your occupational therapy appointments, take all your meds, do everything the doctor advises you to,” said Attorney Ryan.
“Keep in mind that following your treatment plan is also going to mean refraining from activities you aren’t yet medically cleared for. I’m sure you’ve been given a list about that, too.”
“I sure have,” Tamara confirmed. “Movement restrictions, activity restrictions, wound care instructions. At least I seem to have recovered from my concussion.”
“Sounds like you’re on top of your recovery. It’s incredibly important that you adhere to your treatment plan, Tamara. You don’t want the insurance company to get away with blaming you if the feeling does not return in your fingers,” said Attorney Ryan.
Tamara nodded that she understood.
How long will my claim take?
“How long do you think Tamara’s claim will take?” Trey asked.
“That’s going to depend on two things. The first is how long it takes her to reach maximum medical improvement. When she gets there and we know her damages, we’ll send a demand letter to the insurance company. From that point on, the case timeline is going to depend on whether the insurance company responds reasonably. If they’re open to working out adequate compensation for your damages, we’ll be able to close out your claim. If they won’t settle, we’ll take them to court.
“Don’t be alarmed if your claim does end up going to trial, though. Our firm has a long history of success in dog bite claims, including in the courtroom.”
“We’ve seen your client testimonials,” said Trey. “You have some pretty hardcore fans.”
Attorney Ryan laughed, “Yes, it’s likely the insurance company knows our name. And while there are no guarantees, it’s possible that they’ll consider a settlement to avoid facing off against us in front of a jury.
“Either way, we’re going to be ready to fight for your right to compensation. That’s why I’ve got to recommend you make sure you go with an experienced personal injury trial attorney, no matter who you retain to handle your claim.”
The Joneses were content with the information they were given in their legal consultation. They retained Attorney Ryan, and we are happy to say he got Tamara over eight times the amount the insurance company initially offered.
Call Our Orange County Dog Bite Attorney Today
We hope the information on this page has helped you better understand your dog bite claim. Since every claim is unique, please call our Orange County dog bite attorney as soon as you can to schedule your free legal consultation. You don’t need to take on your dog bite claim while healing from your injuries. Call and let us be there for you.
Tim Ryan took my small personal injury case and turned it into a “win” for me. I appreciate his time, patience, and professional expertise in resolving this neighborhood dog injury issue for me. I feel safer because of Tim Ryan. Thank you!