Managing Partner Samer Habbas successfully recovered a $785,000 settlement for a client who suffered both physical and psychological injuries as a result of a dog bite.
Having lost their own pitbull in 2019, the client and their family were in search of a rescue. After receiving a recommendation from a shelter representative, the claimant and their family agreed to a meet and greet with a pitbull named “Cookie”. At the start of the visit the client reached out a gentle hand to pet the dog and, unprovoked, the dog lunged at the client and bit her face. The client’s 5 year old and husband were horrified. Out of concern and adrenaline the husband pulled the 5 year old out of harm’s way, being forced to leave his wife.
Despite the shelter representative’s effort to tear the dog away from our client, the damage had been done. Paramedics were called and the client was transported to Ventura County Medical Center where they underwent immediate facial surgery. The client received a total of 30 stitches to the bite area.
The defendants did not take responsibility for the rescue dog’s actions. The client retained our office to represent her. They initially maintained their denial of liability. Samer then conducted extensive research into the matter. In California, under Civil Code 3342, known as the California Dog Bite Statute, an owner of a dog is liable for any dog bite regardless of the dog’s dangerous propensities. In other words, the dog does not have to have a bite history to prove a violation of the statute. This was a daunting case as the dog bite statute did not apply. A rescue isn’t considered to be the owner of the dog. Therefore, Samer had to find a different angle to sue the defendants. Samer was able to prove that the rescue had been negligent in its handling and training of the dog. Once the defendant’s weaknesses were on display, the defendants urged Samer to go to mediation and avoid being sued in the court of law.
In mediation, Samer was able to settle the matter for $785,000.00. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a dog bite please contact the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates.