The statistics on dog bites are a cause of concern, with some data indicating that up to 4 million people are bitten every year across the U.S. However, it is even more disturbing to learn that these attacks are on the rise. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports an 86% increase in hospitalization due to dog bites over the last two decades.
The average cost per hospital stay for dog bite injuries is $18,200, approximately double the average injury-related hospitalization. Unfortunately, young children are most at risk. Infants are four times as likely to get dog bites and injuries to the head and neck due to the bites.
Victims of all ages have legal options under California dog bite laws, so you may qualify for compensation if you or your child gets injured. However, you are under a deadline for enforcing your rights. Contact Sherman Oaks personal injury attorneys right away. This overview will explain the dog bite statute of limitations.
How California’s Statute of Limitations Works
Every U.S. state has a time restriction on personal injury lawsuits, and California’s statute of limitation for personal injury is 2 years. The clock starts to run on the date that a dog bit you, and it can only be stopped or “tolled” for specific reasons. If you let the statute of limitations expire before filing a lawsuit in court, you will be prohibited from recovering any compensation for your losses.
Because children represent a disproportionate percentage of victims, you should be aware of one key exception that does toll the statute of limitations. Children are minors, so they do not have legal capacity in the eyes of the law. The clock does not even begin to run on the statute of limitations until the victim turns 18 years old. They typically have 2 years after they turn 18 to file a lawsuit (there is an exception for claims against the government, which have a 6-month deadline).
Liability in Dog Bite Claims
Sometimes, you may file an insurance claim against the dog’s owner after suffering injuries in an attack. If you cannot agree to settle your claim, you will need to file a lawsuit in court within the two-year statute of limitations. Under California laws on dog bites, these cases are typically based upon one or more of the following theories of liability.
Strict liability, which means you do not need to show fault:
- Negligence, where you must prove that the owner was careless in protecting against the risk of harm, even if the owner did not know the animal was dangerous
- Scienter, also known as the “one-bite” rule
- Negligence occurs when the owner is careless by violating a leash requirement or other law regarding dogs
Trust our Los Angeles Dog Bite Lawyers to Comply with All Legal Requirements
If a dog hurts you or your child, it is critical to take prompt action to pursue your legal rights. For more information, please contact El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers to set up a free consultation with a member of our team by calling 213-985-1120 or filling out an online form.