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San Jose dog bite injury lawyer, dog bite lawEach year, approximately five million dog bites occur throughout the United States according to the CDC. The locations of the injuries range anywhere between a finger or ankle nip to facial attacks and broken bones. Death is also a very real possibility, especially in cases involving children and large dogs.

In response to the prevalence of dog bites, California became a strict liability state—a dog that bites is the full responsibility of the owner. Dog bite law does not solely govern vicious attacks but any incident where the tooth of a dog breaks the skin. Those suffering from a dog-inflicted wound often have pressing questions about what to do next.

What Do I Do if I Have Been Bitten?

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San Jose, CA dog bite injury attorney, one-bite dog ruleAnnually, an estimated 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. Many attacks result in fatalities and serious lifelong injuries. As the canine population increases, so does the need for legal protection and liability laws about an unprovoked assault by an animal. Many states have opted to give a second chance to those that have only bitten in a single isolated incident. However, California has chosen to eliminate the “one-bite rule” and hold owners strictly liable for the behavior of their furry companions.

California Dog Bite Laws

Once ownership begins between the dog and master, strict liability initiates. Even if the dog has no prior known history of viciousness or unprovoked bites, the owner becomes liable. The statute additionally extends to keepers and handlers of the canine. However, in these cases, previous knowledge of aggressive behavior must exist. Damages may be awarded to any victim of a dog bite if sustained in:

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dog bite, Santa Clara County law, San Jose dog bite lawyerWhether you are a dog owner yourself, have been a victim of a dog bite, or know someone who has had a close call with a dog aggression-related injury, familiarizing yourself with Santa Clara County’s stance on dog safety laws can help you protect your best interests and help keep your neighbors safe.

Existing Dog Safety Laws and Modifications

For years now, Santa Clara County has been investigating ways to further enhance its laws on dangerous dog bites in an effort to place stricter responsibility on owners of potentially dangerous dogs. Back in 2011, the County announced a Board action aimed at expanding the existing policies that are in place to protect residents from harmful injuries. The following new laws were announced:

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dog bites, San Jose dog bite lawyerAll animals have a tendency to be unpredictable, no matter how well trained or gentle natured. This remains true for dogs, which of course are one of the top companions chosen to live in the homes of their human counterparts. Unfortunately, dogs do have it in their nature to bite for several different reasons. This leads to thousands of injury claims annually. How do we avoid such incidents from happening? If they do happen, how should dog bites be dealt with medically and legally?

Why Do Dogs Bite?

If you have seen a premium dog food commercial within the last couple of years, you may have likely heard that dogs are related to wolves. This is actually very true. Furthermore, although they have been domesticated, there is still the wild animal instinct inside, especially under extreme circumstances. Some reasons a canine may strike out are:

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Injuries from animal bites can be traumatic, especially facial injuries. The most common such occurrences in the U.S. involve dog bites. Government statistics reveal that about 2 percent of all people in the country are bitten by man's best friend each and every year, many of them in California. All told, there are millions of injuries, some quite serious, resulting from dog bites.

Over the past 16 years, federal statistics also show, the number of people having to be hospitalized as a result of dog bite injuries has skyrocketed, increasing by 88 percent. The seriousness of such injuries can be seen from the startling fact that around 15 people each year actually die as a result of dog bites and their subsequent complications. And not all of the victims are children, by any means. About two out of thee are minors, but the rest are adults of varying ages. Children under the age of 5, however, do make up around 70 percent of those suffering facial injuries from dog bites.

Treating such injuries is tricky and expensive, and frequently involves the need for very expensive cosmetic surgery and facial reconstruction in addition to the initial medical treatment. Precautions also must be taken against rabies and other diseases and infections.

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Millions of children in California and across the country celebrated Halloween this week with that rewarding tradition of going door to door for candy and other treats. But during Halloween and the upcoming winter holiday season, children may be especially susceptible to the risk of being injured during an encounter with a dog. In addition to trick-or-treating, children also visit the homes of friends, neighbors, relatives or classmates for a variety of holiday parties and other festivities. How can precautions be taken so that a child does not suffer a dog bite during these visits?

When it comes to trick-or-treating, children and their parents may want to avoid homes where they hear a dog barking or observe a dog running free off a leash in a yard. Even when they're visiting homes of people they know, children should be told never to approach or pet a strange dog, and to remain still if they visit a home where a dog appears or runs out when the door is open. A child wearing an unfamiliar costume may appear as a threat even to a dog who knows them.

It is clear that a dog, especially one unaccustomed to the child's presence, may become frightened or on edge when children run around or scream, especially when attired in Halloween costumes. A constant stream of visitors, whether it's for Halloween or a Christmas party, might also be unsettling to a dog's routine. Dogs may bark when they see visitors, so closing drapes may be helpful.

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The fate of a male pit bull from San Francisco is in the hands of a local judge. Charlie the pit bull is accused of racing up to a mounted park police officer, biting the officer and the horse, and then chasing the horse at least a mile and a half through The Presidio. The officer was thrown from his mount and briefly lost consciousness. The horse was bitten and nipped as it made a beeline for its stable. The dog's owner says an inexperienced, poorly trained police horse caused the whole episode and charges of assaulting a police officer should be thrown out.

Charlie was out running with his master last month when he veered over towards the horse. The pit bull first bit the heel of the officer's boot, then chomped down on the horse's front leg. The startled animal reared and the officer was thrown to the ground. The horse took off at a full gallop with the pit bull in pursuit. Police say it continued to attack the police horse until another officer on a motorcycle was able to scare the dog off with his siren and air horn.

Charlie has been declared a "vicious and dangerous dog" and was ordered put down by a superior court judge. The owner appealed, and the euthanasia has been delayed while the judge reviews the case. Charlie, meanwhile, has been neutered in hopes of calming him down somewhat.

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As the controversy over whether pit bulls are inherently more vicious than other breeds of dogs continues, so do incidents of pit bull attacks on unsuspecting victims. Just this week a woman and her young son were bitten by a dog who slipped off his leash while out for a walk.

The attack happened in Vallejo, California, Tuesday night just before 9:30. The woman said she and her son were in a parking lot when a man walking his dog passed by. Police said the dog somehow managed to get out of his collar and when he did, he went after the 5-year-old boy. As his mother tried to protect him, she was bitten, too.

The man and his dog had left the scene by the time police arrived, but police said they later found the dog nearby. Two officers, one from animal control, tried to take the dog, which they said became aggressive and tried to attack both officers. After a Taser shock proved ineffective, the officer shot the dog. It's not clear whether the dog died, but even if it can no longer attack, its owner could be hit with a premises liability lawsuit if the mother decides to file one to recoup her and her son's medical costs.

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Those of us who have dogs are loathe to admit that they're capable of causing any harm, but the reality is that some pets are inclined to bite or attack a person under certain circumstances. Particularly if your dog is trained to guard your home, it's important to realize that a dog bite can happen with very little warning, even if the person attacked doesn't pose a real threat.

A bicyclist peddling along a rural road outside Delhi, California, was the victim of an attack by several dogs last week. According to Merced County sheriff's officials, five or six dogs, most of which were pit bulls or pit bull mixes, chased the man and pulled him off his bike. They continued to bite his arms, legs and torso until neighbors who heard his screams came to help him. The attack was serious enough to put him in the hospital in serious condition.

The dogs were caught and put in quarantine at an animal control facility. Although they tested negative for rabies, their fate is uncertain. The owner of four of the canines said they act as his guard dogs and are usually kept in his yard. He said that while he was away on vacation someone apparently left the gate open, allowing them to escape.

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California is in the unenviable position of ranking at the top of a troubling list. The number of insurance claims for dog bites was higher in the state of California last year than anywhere else in the country. Most victims of these bites are young kids, elderly adults and postal workers carrying satchels of mail.

More than half of the victims of the estimated 4.7 million dog bites recorded each year are children. Kids ages 5 to 9 years old are most vulnerable; they are 900 times more likely than a letter carrier to get bitten. It is estimated that half of all kids will suffer a dog bite by age 12.

The next most likely to be attacked are the elderly. As for postal workers, around 5,600 individuals were bitten in the United States last year. Most of the attacks were in Los Angeles and San Diego, with 83 and 68 dog bite incidents, respectively. An average of 16 people die each year as the result of a dog attack. In March, a California letter carrier was among them.

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There's a fierce debate that continues nationwide over whether some dog breeds should be automatically labeled as "dangerous." Owners of these breeds, such as pit bulls and rottweilers, maintain that whether a dog is vicious depends solely on how it is raised and treated. Although there is some truth to this notion, some breeds -- indeed, some dogs in general -- may require more supervision than others to avoid dog bites, attacks and other harmful incidents. 

The issue is front and center in the case of a San Diego, California, woman who was viciously attacked by her next-door neighbor's two pit bulls in her back yard when she went to get the morning paper last June. Although the yard was surrounded by a fence that had been reinforced with a metal gate to cover a gap in the fence between the two yards, the two dogs made it through by ripping a hole near the gate. As a result of the attack the woman's arm had to be amputated below the elbow and her left leg was amputated below the knee. Her right leg was amputated later. She died of complications from the attack Christmas Eve.

The owners of the dogs, a 40-year-old woman and her 20-year-old daughter, were ordered this week to stand trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, owning a mischievous animal causing death and six misdemeanor code violations, which included failing to protect the public from a dangerous dog and owning a dangerous dog.

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A man who was bitten by a Lodi, California, Police Department K-9 during a 2010 arrest reached a settlement agreement with the city last week. He's being paid $197,000 in addition to $25,000 in medical costs.

The 28-year-old man admits to being combative and under the influence of drugs when he was arrested. But he was already in handcuffs and subdued by police when Bronx the police dog attacked and bit him in the face. The dog was not ordered to attack or bite the man, who was under arrest and facedown when he was bitten. Although he could have behaved better, the man's attorney said, his client didn't deserve the disfiguring dog bite.

The man said after the incident that the bite resulted in numbness and tingling around his mouth, as well as a permanent scar from his nose to his neck. He also reports having constant anxiety any time he's around a police officer or large dog.

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