If my girlfriend just got bitten by the landlord’s dog, what should we do?

My girlfriend a few hours ago was bit by the dog of the owner of the home she rents a room at. She lives in a house and rents a room on the residence that is not connected to the house. It has its own separate entrance, bathroom and small kitchen. She rarely enters the main house. Today she entered the main residence bringing them food she is on good terms with the owner. The dog attacked and bit her hand and mangled it pretty bad. The wound looks gruesome and the hand looks damaged. She doesn’t like the idea of a law suit but we need to consider all options. She works with her hands as a casino card dealer and i’m sure this will put her out of work for some period of time. Does she have a lawsuit case here, should she do anything right now to protect her interest? She is currently at the ER.

Asked on January 10, 2018 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Prior to filing a lawsuit against the landlord, it may be possible to settle the case with the landlord's insurance carrier.  Your girlfriend should notify the landlord and the landlord's insurance carrier in writing of her personal injury claim.
When she completes her medical treatment and is released by the doctor or is declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary, which means having reached a point in her treatment where no further improvement is anticipated, she should obtain her medical bills, medical reports and documentation of wage loss.  Her claim filed with the landlord's insurance carrier should include those items.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports document the injury and are used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical  bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
If the case is settled with the landlord's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.
If your girlfriend is dissatisfied with settlement offers from the landlord's insurance carrier, she should reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the landlord.
Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable dog owner would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
If this is the first time the dog has bitten someone, the lawsuit against the landlord would be for negligence.
If the dog has a history of biting, in addition to the negligence cause of action (claim) in the lawsuit there would be an additional cause of action (claim) for strict liability.  Strict liability imposes liability whether or not due care was exercised.
If the case is NOT settled, the lawsuit against the landlord must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your girlfriend will lose her rights forever in the matter.
CA has a two year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in a personal injury case.  This means that the lawsuit must be filed prior to the second anniversary of the date of the dog bite.


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