Articles Posted in Dog Bites

More Dog Bite Claims in California Than Any Other State

Have you ever been attacked by a dog? According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, California sees more dog bite claims than any other state in the U.S. In fact, in 2013 alone, California insurance companies received a total of 1,919 claims for dog bite injuries that ended up costing them $64.7 million. Based on data collected by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm in a recent report, that’s the highest cost of claims in America.

And dog bite insurance claims are on the rise everywhere. Across the country, insurance companies ended up paying out a total of $484 million for dog bite injury claims in 2013, and the total number of claims actually rose by 5.5 percent from 2012. According to the article, “encounters with Fido account for more than one-third of liability costs for homeowners insurance.” A spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute indicated that the average claim cost has risen “more than 45 percent in the last decade.”

Are San Diego residents at risk of dog bite injuries? More than fifty percent of California households own dogs, according to data collected by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA). And according to the Humane Society, homes across the U.S. have more than 83 million dogs as family pets. While we don’t like to think about the dangers posed by domestic animals, dog bites occur with some frequency in Southern California. In fact, the U.S. Postal Services lists each “ten worst cities for dog attacks” each year, and three major metropolitan areas in California made the list. As such, the AVMA and local veterinary offices are hoping to advocate for dog bite prevention in San Diego, according to a report from San Diego’s local CBS 8 News.


Have you or a loved one sustained a dog bite injury? Animal attacks can happen without warning, and they can produce life-threatening injuries, particularly when children are involved. If you were bitten by a dog, it’s important to have experienced legal counsel on your side. Contact an experienced San Diego dog bite lawyer at the Walton Law Firm today.

Veterinarians Hope to Prevent Dog Attacks

Many of us have family pets, and we often assume that domestic dogs are safe around children. However, dog bite accidents happen more frequently than we might think. A recent article in NBC News San Diego reported that a dog owner was recently arrested in connection with an animal attack incident at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Murrieta.


A dog bite or an animal attack can cause severe and often life-threatening injuries. If you or a loved one recently sustained injuries due to a dog attack, it’s important to speak to an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer. You may be eligible for financial compensation.

Details of the Murrieta Dog Attack

Earlier this week, a 6-year-old boy from the San Francisco Bay area died of wounds he sustained from a dog bite at a relative’s home. According to the Sacramento Bee, the boy, Nephi Selu, had been visiting his grandparents’ home in Union City when their dog, a 2-year-old pit bull or pit bull mix, bit the top of Selu’s head.

Dog bite injuries can be very serious, and they’re often fatal. While certain breeds have a reputation for attacks, these accidents remain common throughout California. Many dogs have the jaw strength to break bones, and even in best-case-scenario accidents, puncture wounds are deep and infections occur frequently. If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to speak to an experienced dog bite lawyer. Under California law, you may be eligible for compensation.

Friendly Dogs and Fatal Bites

A 22-year-old woman was arrested on October 9 after her pit bull attacked a 4-year-old girl in National City. Brittany Gardiner was walking her pit bull in an apartment complex when a 4-year-old girl approached. The child asked if she could pet Gardiner’s dog. The roughly 65-pound dog attacked the child, biting her face. It took four men and Gardiner quite a while to pry the dog away from the child. They punched and kicked the dog, and even hit it repeatedly with a rock until it let go.

Gardiner attempted to flee. She ran upstairs to her apartment with her dog, grabbed her keys, got in her car, and tried to pull out of the parking lot. The police came and blocked her in. She was arrested and charged with child endangerment, resisting police, and allowing a vicious animal to inflict injury. The dog was impounded. It will undergo rabies testing and will likely be euthanized.

The child was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where she was admitted in serious condition with injuries to her face and upper body. By the same night, she was listed in fair condition.

Yet another pit bull strikes and causes a death – this time the death of an eight-month-old baby. According to an article in the U-T San Diego, Tyzhel McWilliams died last Thursday evening after being bitten by Zulu, a three-year-old pit bull that lived in the same apartment. The death of Tyzhel is currently being investigated by sheriff’s detectives. No arrests have been made in the case. Our experienced San Diego dog bite injury lawyer knows that it is common for children to fall victim to dog bites. According to the county Department of Animal Services, of the 2,746 dog bites that were reported to the agency since July 1st, 425 were to children aged 12 and under.

pitbull.jpgIn this particular case, Tyzhel’s mother had moved in with a girlfriend who had three male pit bulls about two years ago. Zulu was among the three pit bulls that the girlfriend owned. When Tyzhel was born, the mother had no objections to allowing the dogs to interact with her baby. Until this tragic incident, there had been no occurrences of rough play with the dogs and Tyzhel. On the day of the incident, Tyzhel was playing in the living room while his mother and the girlfriend were talking in a bedroom across the hall. Zulu was in the bedroom with them. At some point, Tyzhel crawled into the bedroom and Zulu suddenly and unexpectedly bit him on the head. The baby died in the hospital later that evening.

The other dogs were not involved in the incident, but to exercise proper precautions, the three dogs were impounded at the Chula Vista Animal Care Facility. Upon release, Zulu was euthanized, while the other two dogs were returned back to the owner. The incident comes as a shock to both the mother and the owner of the dogs since there had been no prior occurrences of violence. According to both women, the dogs were always friendly and well-behaved.

Dog bites surprisingly cost insurance companies a significant sum of money. According to an article on MSNBC, the Insurance Information Institute conducted a study which revealed that in 2011, insurance companies were liable for about $479 million for injuries resulting from dog bites. Our experienced San Diego dog bite injury lawyer is aware that the payouts for dog bite incidents are traditionally covered under homeowner’s liability policies.

dog%20bite%20-%205.jpgThe study by the Insurance Information Institute further revealed that since 2003, there was a slight decline in the number of dog bite claims. However, this does not necessarily result in a lower liability cost for insurance companies. Unfortunately for insurance companies, the cost per dog bite claim has risen 54 percent since 2003. The logical reasoning for these sharp increases is that over the years medical costs have risen and the dollar amount awarded to plaintiffs – whether a settlement, judgment or jury award – has similarly increased.

Another possible cause for these rising cost of claims paid out by insurance companies may be the popularity of certain breeds of dogs that tend to have a dangerous propensity. Specifically, despite their rough demeanor, pit bulls have gained the affection of a large portion of dog owners in the United States. The popularity of a breed that is more likely to showcase violent behavior has resulted in an influx of dog bite incidents. A study published in the Annals of Surgery in April 2011 concluded that “attacks by pit bills are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs.”

Dog bite injury cases are common in San Diego. Our experienced San Diego dog bite injury lawyer understands that due to the nature of their occupation, postal employees often fall victim to dog attacks. An article in >NBC San Diego reports that according to a list released by the United States Postal Service (USPS), San Diego ranks as the No. 2 city in the nation for dog attacks to postal employees.

According to a recent survey conducted by the USPS, 68 postal workers were attacked in San Diego last year out of approximately 5,600 postal employees nationwide. The city that outranked San Diego for the No. 1 spot for dog bite injury cases involving postal employees was Los Angeles. The USPS released these rankings to raise awareness for National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

Raising awareness for dog bite prevention is extremely important because as any experienced dog bite lawyer knows, dog bite cases can unfortunately lead to wrongful death cases. There have been tragic incidents where a dog attack ultimately led to the death of the victim. In such situations, surviving family members of the victim have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the owner of the dog that attacked the victim.

Stemming from a San Diego dog bite injury case that occurred on June 18, 2011, Alba Corenlio and Carla Cornelio, owners of the pit bulls that mauled an elderly neighbor, are expected to stand trial for manslaughter, a felony charge of owning mischievous animals that caused a death and six misdemeanors relating to the attack. According to an article in the U-T San Diego, 75-year-old Emako Mendoza was viciously attacked by the two pit bulls when she went to the backyard of her home to get her morning newspaper. Mendoza lived next door to the Cornelios in Paradise Hills. The two pit bulls had gotten into her yard through a gap in the fence. After the attack, the two pit bulls and their three-week-old puppies were euthanized.

The attack was so severe that Mendoza’s left arm and leg left had to be amputated. The vicious attack had also caused her to suffer a heart attack. Months of rehabilitation did not improve Mendoza’s condition. She died on December 24, 2011.

This particular situation led Mendoza’s surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim. As our San Diego wrongful death attorney knows, the probable argument that the Cornelios will assert in defense to a wrongful death claim is that Mendoza’s death was not caused by the dog attack. Instead, they will argue that her death was likely caused by pre-existing conditions related to heart complications and her old age. Furthermore, the Cornelios will likely argue that the lapse in time from the date of the attack to the date of death proves that the dog attack was not the direct cause of Mendoza’s death. Therefore, because the element of causation is missing, Mendoza’s surviving family members shouldn’t successfully assert a wrongful death claim. However, the Cornelios argument will quickly be dismissed once results of the autopsy are admitted into evidence. The medical examiner determined that Mendoza’s cause of death was “complications of dog bite injuries.” bite.jpg

A San Diego dog bite injury turned deadly this week for 59-year-old Diane Jansen, a postal worker from Sun City. Jansen was out on her route, delivering mail in a residential neighborhood, when a pit bull came running out of the garage of one of the homes in the area. The dog had been in the garage with several children, and he was not wearing a leash. When he spotted Jansen, the dog ran straight at her and bit her multiple times on her legs. When medical staff arrived on the scene to treat her injuries, Jansen began to have trouble speaking, and eventually became unresponsive. She was rushed to the hospital, where doctors quickly determined that she was suffering from a brain hemorrhage. She passed away Sunday evening. After conducting an autopsy, the medical examiner determined the cause of death to be a hemorrhagic stroke but that pre-existing cardiovascular disease and the dog bites to her legs were a contributing factor. After the attack, the authorities came to the house and removed and later euthanized the animal.

Experience has taught our San Diego dog bite lawyer that situations like this one can make for particularly difficult wrongful death cases because there were multiple factors that contributed to the victim’s death. If the victim filed a lawsuit against the owners of the dog, they would likely try to defend against the claim by suggesting that the harm caused by the dog was relatively minor and did not actually cause Jansen’s death. They would argue that the real cause of death was Jansen’s pre-existing cardiovascular disease, which led to the hemorrhage that caused the stroke. Thus, the defendants in such a case would likely claim that they could not be held legally responsible in a San Diego wrongful death lawsuit.

pit%20bull.jpgHowever, our San Diego wrongful death attorney knows that, like most things in the law, it would not be that simple. A well-known principle in the area of personal injury and tort law is the “eggshell skull” doctrine. The rule posits that someone who commits a negligent act that causes harm to another person must take the victim as he or she finds the victim. This means that even if the victim is particularly susceptible to injury due to some pre-existing condition, the person who commits the negligent act that leads to injury is still responsible for all of the injuries arising out of that act. For example, if a driver backs into a person with very brittle bones, the driver is responsible for any injuries the victim sustains, even if a person without the brittle bones would not have been injured as badly or at all. Therefore, even though Jansen had a pre-existing condition, her family may still be able to recover in a wrongful death suit against the owners of the dog.

If you live in our area or surrounding communities, this case illustrates how vital it is to have a San Diego County personal injury lawyer on your side when dealing with legal matters. The law can be extremely complicated, and it is always best to have an advocate who knows the law and can help you to make the most of the rights that are available to you.

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