Potential Timeframe Of Resolution for a Dog Bite Case in California
Interviewer: How long can a case potentially take?
Richard Sailer: With any case, it all depends on the facts and circumstances. If it’s something that’s easily resolved with the insurance company, it could only take a few weeks to months. If it’s something that requires protracted treatment where there’s going to be multiple surgeries, a long recovery period, or a long period of disability, we can’t move forward to resolve the case until when that the client is stable in terms of their medical condition. Furthermore, you’re kind of at the mercy of the insurance carrier in terms of evaluating the claim. In the worst case scenario, you’ll be filing a lawsuit which then becomes a matter of dealing with the backlog at the court and how soon we can get a trial date.
A Dog Breeder or Somebody with Multiple Animals Would be Held to a Higher Standard of Scrutiny than a Child’s Pet
Interviewer: Are there any concerns for someone who has an excessive amount of animals such as like an amateur dog breeder or people who make a habit of having more and more dangerous animals?
Richard Sailer: I think there are. You may have a higher standard of care because if the animal owner is running it as a business for profit, they should be more in-tune with the animal’s behavior. I think even in terms of a jury evaluating the case, they would hold a dog breeder –somebody with multiple animals—to a higher standard than they would if it was just a child’s pet.
A Dog Owner Can Also Face Criminal Charges in a Dog Bite Case
Interviewer: Are there any cases where an owner may face criminal charges because of something like this?
Richard Sailer: Yes, I’ve handled several cases in which the city attorney’s office has picked up criminal cases against the dog owners. Typically, that’s in a situation where there’s a known vicious animal and there’s violation of leash laws—it’s something more than just a simple accident. For example, in the city of Los Angeles, the city attorney probably doesn’t have time to be dealing with the dog attack situation than they would in some of the smaller communities in Southern California. Smaller cities seem to hold people a little bit more accountable because it may just be because they have more resources.
Criminal Prosecution of a Dog Owner Can Also Assist Resolution of the Civil Dog Bite Claim
We’ve had several cases where there have been prosecutions of the dog owners. When there is a prosecution, that greatly assists us in the civil case because we have already got a factual determination of who the dog owner is, that the client was injured, and who was responsible for the animal that caused the harm. Afterwards, the issue is how much the case is worth.