The Challenging Aspects of Handling Dog Bite Cases in California
Interviewer: What would you say are some of the more challenging aspects when it comes to dog bite cases?
Richard Sailer: I think the most difficult problem in handling the dog bite case is getting the dog owner to understand the law and their responsibilities. Sometimes the dog owners take offense that their dog would bite somebody or that we’re accusing them of any type of negligence. It’s almost like a child that gets in trouble at school, the teacher calls the parent up to say that child did something wrong and the parent takes a defensive posture and blames the teacher for the child’s misbehavior.
Dog Owners Generally Don’t Accept the Fact that Their Dog Bit Someone and it Wasn’t the Other Person’s Fault
I see that same dynamic with dog owners where they don’t want to accept the fact that their dog bit somebody and it would always be other person’s fault or they didn’t do anything wrong and they’re not responsible for whatever reason. Occasionally, it goes to the extent of them not facing the reality of it up to the point where they’re served with the lawsuit and have to do something about it. As a result, you’ll be frustrated because you can’t get a home owner or a dog owner to understand that it’s a simple matter. All they need to do is call their insurance company, let them know that their dog bit someone, and have the insurance company get in touch with the attorney’s office who’s handling the case.
A Dog Bite Case for a Minor is Handled the Same Way as it Would for an Adult
Interviewer: What were to happen if a dog attack would happen to a minor? Does that make any difference?
Richard Sailer: In terms of how the case is handled, it wouldn’t make any difference. It may make a difference in terms of the damages because as we talked about earlier, younger people are more inclined to suffer more emotional distress following a dog attack. The only other difference would be at the time of settlement. There may be a situation where the settlement would require Court approval of the minor’s claim. This is done to prevent an unscrupulous parent from selling out their child’s injury for a quick buck, and to ensure the minor victim is receiving fair and adequate compensation from the insurance company. It’s basically a safe guard for the minor because the State has an interest in protecting children.
The Things Required by an Attorney When Meeting the Client for a Dog Bite Case
Interviewer: When you’re meeting with a client, what are some things that you’re going to ask them to prepare for you or to bring with them?
Richard Sailer: Typically if we know where the bite occurred or where the dog came from, that would be a starting place so we can research it. Occasionally, I’ll get a phone call from somebody that says, “My son or daughter was walking home from school. A brown dog ran up and bit him and ran off”. Consequently, there is no police report, there’s no animal control report, and no one saw where the dog came from or where the dog went.
If we don’t know who owns the dog, we’re really at a loss on where to proceed because there’s hundreds of thousands of dogs. We don’t know how to even begin to investigate who’s responsible for that. If we can at least get a starting point of where the dog came from, where the dog went, or who potentially owns the dog that’s about all we need. Afterwards, we can investigate the rest of it on our own by tracking down a police report, getting an animal control report, or tracking down the property ownership of the dog.