Don’t be naïve to think that you’re guaranteed to win a personal injury claim against a dog owner just because you were bitten by his/her dog. If the dog owner is represented by a Los Angeles dog attack attorney, chances are he/she will have quite a few defense strategies and options to avoid punishment and win the case.
It may sound unfair, but that’s how civil litigation works in California: you have to know what state rules apply to your particular case in order to hold the owner of the dog (the defendant) responsible for your injuries, damages and losses after a bite.
Fact: about 4.5 million Americans get bit by dogs every year.
We asked our best dog bite lawyer in California Howard Craig Kornberg to outline what defenses a dog owner can use in order win the case against you (the plaintiff).
Preponderance of evidence in a dog attack lawsuit
Under strict dog bite liability laws in California, a dog owner can typically win a case against the victim of a dog attack by either providing an affirmative defense or by convincing the court that the plaintiff (the victim) didn’t provide sufficient evidence or didn’t prove all the elements of the claim.
Interestingly, other states provide more defense options for dog owners to avoid responsibility.
Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg explain that you, as the plaintiff, are required to prove that the dog owner is liable. In order to win a dog bite lawsuit in California, you will have to convince the judge or juries under the standard of “preponderance of evidence,” i.e. at least 51% vs. 49% likelihood of being true.
Meaning: your version of events must be more convincing than that of the defendant and be considered “more likely than not.” One way to ensure that your arguments and evidence resonate with the judge and juries is to hire a skilled dog attack lawyer, preferably from a reputable law firm that has handled dog bite cases for decades.
One such firm is the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg, which represents clients in Los Angeles and all across the state. Don’t let the dog owner convince the court that your evidence is too weak to win the case. Let our attorneys dig deep and collect sufficient evidence to back your claims.
Affirmative defense in a dog bite case
An even easier way for a dog owner to win a dog attack case is to use an affirmative defense. Our Los Angeles dog attack lawyers explain that the defendant can win the case even if the victim proves all the required elements of the claim.
As bizarre as it may sound, no matter how convincing your version of events is, you can lose the case if the owner of the dog presents other evidence that proves an affirmative defense, including but not limited to the statute of limitations and assumption of risk.
In case of California’s statute of limitations for dog bite lawsuits, deadlines for filing a claim range from one to three years after the injury happened, depending on the circumstances of your case.
So if you don’t file a lawsuit on time, the defendant may use it as his/her defense and you can lose the case. However, it’s vital to seek legal help of an experienced attorney to find out what deadlines apply to your particular case.
Comparative negligence in California
As for assumption of risk, the owner of the dog that attacked you and injured you may argue that you contributed to the dog bite or “assumed the risk” of the dog attack.
The defendant can also significantly reduce the value of your claim by proving your portion of negligence in the dog bite. Under California’s legal doctrine of comparative negligence, damages of each party in an accident will be determined based on the percentage they were negligent.
Legalese is not the easiest language to decipher, which is why all this may sound confusing. But let us explain the basics in a free consultation with our best dog bite attorneys in Los Angeles.
Here at the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg, we will do whatever it takes to protect your rights and ensure that your evidence and arguments in the lawsuit convince the judge more than that of the dog owner.