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California Ranked First in Fatal Dog Attacks

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It may surprise you that California is ranked first in the nation in fatal dog attacks. Insurers nationwide pay out over $1 billion in claims related to dog bites annually. One-third of the money paid out through homeowners' liability claims are related to dog attacks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents and the U.S. Postal Service compiled a startling array of statistics about dog attacks. Here are some of the results:

- There are approximately 4.7 million dog bites per year nationwide.
- The number of dog bites requiring medical attention has increased 15 times faster than the increase in dog ownership.
- There are more than 850,000 dog bites requiring medical attention in the U.S. yearly.
- In a twelve-month period from 1995 to 1996, at least 25 people in the U.S. have died from dog attacks, 20 of whom were children.
- Letter carriers suffer about 3,000 bites annually as they deliver the mail.

These alarming conclusions show that this is a problem that is getting worse, not better. Victims of dog bite attacks can sustain painful and life-altering injuries, including deep skin wounds, loss of fingers, infections and scarring. Dogs that are prone to attack are a liability and the owners need to be held responsible for them.

Children Most Often Victims
Children are most often the victims of serious dog attacks for several reasons. They are boisterous, loud and make unpredictable movements that can scare dogs. And what a child might see as an expression of love - a simple hug- can be an explicit threat to the animal.

The Most Vicious Breeds
In the period from 1979 to 1996, there were 154 reported fatal dog attacks. Five breeds accounted for two-thirds of those attacks. Those breeds, in order of the most fatalities, are: Pit Bull, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Husky, Alaskan Malamute. Pit Bulls were responsible for twice as many fatal attacks as any other breed and over half of all fatal attacks. We have handled more cases involving Rottweilers than any other breed.

California Law
California Civil Code Section 3342

It is not necessary for the Plaintiff, in a California case, to prove that the dog was known to be vicious or had a propensity to bite. One bite is alone sufficient to support liability. Under California law, all the Plaintiff (injured person) must prove to recover for a dog bite injury, is:
- The defendant owned the dog
- The dog bit the Plaintiff
- The Plaintiff was lawfully on the premises where the bite took place
- The bite caused the Plaintiff injuries

Most Important

The most important aspect of prosecuting a dog attack case is to secure evidence as quickly as possible. We have our investigator on the scene, usually within an hour of notification, in order to gather and preserve evidence. The best evidence that we seek to obtain immediately is the identity of the dog and its owner, photographs of the dog, identity of witnesses, witness statements, and photographs of the injuries and location of the attack.
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