The Law Office of Michael E. Ripley

Exceeding Expectations

Dog Bite Cases (...continued)

It is estimated that approximately 5,000,000 dog bites take place each year in the United States. According to USA Today (May, 2012), State Farm, the largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States, paid more than $109,000,000.00 on nearly 3,800 dog bite claims in the calendar year of 2011. Depending on the size and type of dog, puncture wounds can be deep, and infections can develop, which will to complicate treatment. Hospitalization and reconstructive surgery may both be necessary. Other complications, such as treatment for rabies, may be necessary if the dog does not have current records for shots.

California law establishes “strict liability” for the dog owner if there is a bite. Dog owners are obligated to take all reasonable steps to keep others safe from their animals. By way of example, dog owners cannot allow their dogs to run at large. Also, a dog owner can be held responsible for punitive damages if they continue to own a dog that they know has a history of aggression or biting.  If you or a family member is attacked by a dog, please take the time to consult a dog bite attorney to learn what can be done to receive compensation for your losses. It is important to consult an attorney sooner than that, while the evidence is still fresh, and also, so that physical evidence can be gathered and located and witnesses can be contacted as soon after an event as possible.

Interesting Fact for San Diego Residents:  According to the Union Tribune newspaper (March 8, 2014), San Diego County ranks second in the nation for dog attacks, particularly on mail carriers.  San Diego saw a 25% increase in dog bites and dog attacks in 2013, compared to 2012.

The Insurance Information Institute’s analysis of homeowners insurance data found that the average cost of a dog bite claim in the United States in 2011 was almost $30,000.00, up more than 50% from approximately $20,000.00 in 2004. The medical costs and the size of the settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs have all outpaced inflation, according to the Institute.  Also, according to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites account for more than one third of homeowners insurance liability claims paid in 2011, at a cost of approximately $480,000,000.00.

According to the Union Tribune newspaper (May 15, 2015) San Diego ranks third nationwide for dog attacks on postal workers in 2014.  There were 91 such attacks in San Diego County, 51 of them in the City of San Diego.  Over the last several years, there have been two local mail carriers that died because of dog attacks.

Recent news: according the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper (May 14, 2016), San Diego has the second most mail carrier dog bites in the country. Across the country, mail carriers have a 40% higher chance than the rest of the population, of being bitten by a dog. Last year, San Diego came in second, to Houston, for the most dog bites of mail carriers.

Statute of Limitations in Dog Bite Cases

The term Statute of Limitations refers to the amount of time a person has to sue for their injury. In California, the Statute of Limitations, generally, is two years from the date of the accident. This means that if a personal injury claim cannot be resolved without a lawsuit, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. Otherwise, the opportunity for a recovery is lost altogether.

If a claim or lawsuit is against a public entity (such as a City, the State of California, or a School District), there must be filed a governmental entity claim within six months of the date of the accident. As with the Statute of Limitations discussed above, if such a claim is not filed within six months, it means that the possibility of making a recovery against a governmental entity will be lost.

Personal Injury FAQs

If I call your office, will I be able to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney?

Answer = Yes you will.  Michael E. Ripley gives individual attention to each client, and to each prospective client.

What if I cannot make it to your office to speak with you?

Answer = In some instances, we can work together by way of telephone or email.  In other instances, such as if a client is disabled or in the hospital, the attorney will come to the client.

Should I call if I am not sure whether I need a lawyer, or if I may be able to handle the matter on my own?

Answer = You can call for a free consultation.  If you attempt to handle your personal injury matter on your own, you will be dealing with an insurance adjuster that handles these sorts of claims for a living, and that has experience handling the claims, and who has a goal of settling claims for as little as possible.

Can I get medical treatment if I do not have medical insurance?

Answer = Yes you can.  The law office may be able to refer you to doctors who will provide treatment without insurance, who will then be paid from the recovery from your claim or lawsuit.

How long will it take to settle my personal injury case?

Answer = There is no one answer for this.  Every case is different.  Many cases can be settled by way of negotiating them, without filing a lawsuit.  If a lawsuit is filed, it generally will get a trial date one year after it is filed.  However, over 95% of all civil cases settle without going to trial, or somewhere along the line.

Will my personal injury case take up very much of my time?

Answer = No, it will not.  If the matter can be resolved without filing a lawsuit, you will not have to attend any meetings or court hearings.  If a lawsuit is filed, it may happen that your deposition will be taken, which is a 2-4 hour process.  Otherwise, you may have to attend one or two hearings or meetings, unless the matter goes to trial.  As indicated above, over 95% of all cases settle without going to trial.

Will I have to pay for such things as court filing fees, court costs, or expert witnesses, if there is a lawsuit?

Answer = No.  The Law Office of Michael E. Ripley will advance payment for costs, so that you do not have to pay for them out of pocket.

Is there anything I can do if the other driver was uninsured?

Answer = Yes you can.  So long as you have automobile insurance, your insurance will include coverage for uninsured motorists.  That way, a claim can be made against your own insurance if the other driver did not have any insurance.

How will the lawyer be paid for his work?

Answer = Lawyers handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.  This means that the lawyer only is paid if there is a recovery.  The lawyer’s fees are a percentage of the recovery, so that the majority of the recovery goes to the injured party.

How soon after an accident should I call an attorney?

Answer = As quickly as possible.  There is investigation to do, and evidence to be preserved, and witnesses to be contacted.  It is also important to take photographs of the accident scene and the vehicles involved, as quickly as possible.  This sort of evidence may be lost if you do not act quickly.

Why should I hire the Law Office of Michael E. Ripley?

Answer = Mr. Ripley is an experienced personal injury lawyer.  He has been handling personal injury cases for over 30 years.  He has been to trial, mediation, and arbitration in a wide variety of personal injury cases.  He knows what he is doing, and he knows how to get the job done.

Contact Us

The Law Office of

Michael E. Ripley

Main Office - General Law

12520 High Bluff Drive

Suite 110 (First Floor)

San Diego, CA  92130

Phone (858) 792-1300

Fax (858) 793-1235


Contact Request

Office Hours


 Monday through Friday

8:30am to 5pm

Pacific Standard Time

Find Us

You are Here - Website Location

Member Login

Who's Online

We have 87 guests and no members online