Articles Posted in Dog/Animal Bites

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During the course of 30+ years practicing personal injury law in Los Angeles, I have been asked by many clients whether it is a good idea to submit to an MRI as a part of their personal injury claim.

In this article, I discuss the pros and cons of having an MRI as part of your treatment plan in pursuing a claim for an injury, and whether it can increase the value of your claim.

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In this article, we explain the medical nature of what typically happens after an accident, and discuss why it is important to seek and follow up on your treatment after an injury.

When it comes to a bodily injury, whether it be from an automobile collision, slip-and-fall, dog bite, or any other type of accident, it is very important that you seek immediate medical treatment and follow up on all of your doctor appointments. There are two major reasons for this. First, it is important to your physical health that you get the appropriate medical treatment so your injury heals or at least improves. Second, it is important to your personal injury claim that you seek and maintain treatment in order to legitimize your case against the defendant and/or their insurance company.

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SOCIAL MEDIA AND PERSONAL INJURY CASES

If you have been injured as the result of another’s negligence and are pursuing a personal injury claim, you have probably been made aware that the defendant’s insurance company will do everything they can to disprove your injuries and your claim. One of the most common ways that defendants and their insurance companies are doing this nowadays is by simply looking to social media sites. Many plaintiffs do not realize that the pictures, posts, and check-ins that they put on social media websites can give the insurance companies and their lawyers enough ammunition to disprove or significantly reduce compensation for your injuries.

WHAT INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE LOOKING FOR

When insurance companies are defending against your claim, they are essentially looking for any evidence that suggests your injuries are not real or that they are much less severe than you are claiming. If the insurance company is able to prove this, they will be able to get away with denying your claim or offering a settlement for much less than you are seeking or deserve. Insurance companies have investigators who are well-trained and efficient when it comes to gaining access to information posted on social media. They will go through your social media accounts and look for incriminating evidence that can be used to prove that your injuries are not as serious as you claim they are. This is all legal, and these posts and pictures are admissible as evidence because courts have held that there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy” on social media, regardless of the personal privacy settings on your account. In fact, courts have even ordered plaintiffs to hand over their social media username and passwords to defense counsel!

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Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those who have fallen victim to dog bites, you will be glad to know California is a strict liability state, which is also known as “ the dog bite statute.” Under strict liability the owner of a dog is 100 percent liable for any injuries the dog may inflict on the victim. This applies so long as the victim was not provoking the dog, trespassing, attacked by an employer’s dog, or rendering paid services that involve a dog. Strict liability does not require the injured party to prove the owner’s negligence in failing to properly supervise its dog. This means that in California there is no such thing as a “free bite.” As outlined by California Civil Code Section 3342:

“The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.”

Keep in mind, strict liability applies only to the owner of the dog. If you were attacked by a dog that at the time was under the care of a “keeper” or “handler” they also may be liable for your injuries. If there is proof suggesting the “keeper” or “handler” had knowledge of prior dog bites or of the dog’s vicious propensities then liability can be placed on the “keeper” or “handler” for lack of vigilant care of such dog.