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U.S. Census Worker Injured in Dog Attack


Wendy Soto, 38, a U.S. Census worker sustained serious injuries in a dog bite incident as she was going door-to-door in Coalinga, California. According to a CBS news report, Soto was conducting census interviews the evening of May 17, 2010. She rang the doorbell of a home when a pit bull came out and began biting her repeatedly. The dog attack only stopped when the owner came and pulled the dog away, police said. Soto sustained injuries to her right leg, stomach and hands. Doctors are now apparently waiting for the swelling to reduce before assessing the extent of Soto’s injuries. Officials are preparing to hold a hearing in order to determine whether the dog should be classified as “vicious.”

What Caused this Dog Attack?

I sympathize with Wendy Soto and her family for what they are going through at this time. It seems that she has suffered significant injuries that require surgery. Tragic! I pray that she has a speedy and complete recovery. All serious dog bite victims deal with issues such as physical pain, disfigurement and psychological fears. I hope Soto did not suffer any catastrophic injuries.

Based on this news report, this seems to have been an unprovoked attack. It also appears that the pit bull was unrestrained at the time. There are many questions here. Where was the owner at the time of the dog attack? Did this pit bull have a prior history of viciousness? Had this dog bitten any other animal or person in that neighborhood prior to this incident? I trust officials will examine these issues during the hearing.

Dog Owner Liability

Under California law, dog owners could be held liable for injuries caused by their pets, irrespective of whether the attack occurs on public or private property. Under California’s “strict liability statute” the owner could be held liable. California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

If the dog owner also owns a home, then his or her homeowner’s insurance should cover the loss and damages sustained by the dog bite victim. Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation to cover medical expenses, loss of wages, cost of hospitalization, surgeries, pain and suffering, emotional distress and even cost of future treatment such as cosmetic surgery to repair scars. An experienced Fresno personal injury lawyer will be able to advise victims about their legal rights and options in these cases and help hold the negligent parties accountable.

Do you believe that your city must update its dangerous dog laws? What changes would you like to see?

The Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys is not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our information source is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call us or another reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free consultation. We provide a free, confidential consultation to not at fault persons named in this article. The free consultation offer extends to family members as well.

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