Dog Bites And Personal Injury Claims: Frequently Asked Questions

Posted on: 11 December 2015

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million individuals are bitten by dogs each year. If you or a loved one has recently suffered a serious dog bite, you might be wondering if the dog's owner is liable and if you have a case. Here are a few questions you may have about your potential dog bite personal injury claim, including when you should hire a lawyer:

What Should I Do After I'm Bitten By a Dog?

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, the first thing you need to do is seek immediate medical attention. Once you're given a clean bill of health, document your injuries and any damages that occurred because of the dog bite. For example, if you fell after the dog bit you, take pictures of your broken glasses or the crack in your cell phone.

Your next step should be to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will help determine if you have a case, and what money you may be entitled to.

If you know the name, phone number and address of the dog's owner, provide this information to your attorney. Track down any witnesses and ask them for their name and telephone number. The eyewitness testimonies can help strengthen your case.

Is The Dog's Owner Liable?

Depending on the state where you live, the dog owner's liability will fall under two categories. The first is called strict liability. In strict liability states, the animal's owner is responsible for their dog and the damage inflicted by a bite regardless of whether they knew their pet was potentially dangerous or not.

For example, in strict liability states, if the dog had never bit anyone in the past and had never shown any signs of aggression, the owner is still responsible.

In other states, the dog owner is only responsible if they knew their dog was potentially dangerous and still allowed the pet to come into contact with the person who was bitten.

According to FindLaw, there are many strategies your lawyer might use to prove a dog had what is known as "vicious propensities," including:

  • If the animal is larger or a breed that is classically more prone to bite or attack—such as a pit bull—this could justify a vicious propensity suit.
  • An animal that has been known to bite or snap at strangers or neighbors in the past.
  • A dog that has a reputation for fighting with other animals.
  • A dog that is trained to guard or attack. If the dog was trained to bite or injure intruders, your attorney can argue that this makes the owner responsible for their pet's actions.

What Am I Entitled To If I Win My Case?

Suffering a dog bite can be very traumatic and with the help of your skilled personal injury attorney, it is possible to win your case. Depending on the state and the facts of your case, you may be entitled to any expenses you incurred because of the bite and additional money for your pain, suffering and emotional stress.

For example, in addition to paying for any hospital bills related to the bite, you may also be entitled to any lost wages and cash to replace any clothing or other personal items that were damaged in the attack.

Additionally, you may be entitled to money for any pain and stress you suffered. If you or your children were traumatized by the event, the judge may award you a larger settlement to compensate for this emotional distress.

Suffering from a dog attack can be very painful and stressful. If you've recently suffered a dog bite, one of your first steps you need to take is to contact a personal injury attorney.


Always Know Your Renter's Rights

After my mother suffered a fall on the icy steps of her apartment building, I learned a lot about renter's rights, and I want to share my story and tips to help others. My mother was extremely afraid to pursue action against the apartment owners who were at fault for her fall due to fear she would be kicked out of her apartment. I found out that there are state laws that protect apartment renters from retaliation for asserting their rights as renters. However, it is very important to have any attorney on your side when you pursue a personal injury lawsuit against an apartment owner; the owner is less likely to even try to illegally evict you if they know you have an attorney already on your side. I hope you can learn a lot from my story and the other tips I share on this blog!