If a dog has bitten you or if your dog is responsible for biting someone, chances are you may need a dog bite attorney. After a dog bite incident, you should always choose to fill out a report for the local animal control or the police so that the incident is officially recorded. While it doesn’t mean charges are guaranteed to be filed, it does help with insurance claims, should you need to file them later on.
Because dog bite laws vary by state, it’s in your best interest to seek legal counsel to fully understand the legal options available for your case. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important reasons for hiring a dog bite attorney after an incident.
What Should I Do If a Dog Bites Me?
If you are the victim of a dog bite incident, the first thing you should do is seek immediate medical treatment, if necessary. Even if the bite isn’t severe, secondary infection is always a concern with any animal bite, so it’s crucial to receive appropriate medical care.
Next, file a report with the local police or animal control facility reporting the incident. It’s entirely possible the dog has a previous record of bites or will bite more people in the future. Recording bite incidents helps to protect the public and inform public officials if the dog poses a risk to the community.
Finally, don’t speak with the dog owner’s insurance company. Speaking with the insurance agents puts you at risk of making statements that might harm your overall compensation amount. Instead, always consult a lawyer first and have them communicate with the insurance company as soon as possible.
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What Evidence Do I Need to Prove My Dog Bite Case?
Once you’ve received medical care for your wounds, you’ll need to collect as much evidence as possible for your case. This includes information such as:
- Contact information of the dog’s owner
- Contact information of any witnesses to the bite
- Photographs of your injuries
- Pictures of the scene and of the bite or the dog (if possible)
- Any reports you filed to the authorities
- Medical bills
- Any recorded statements of the incident (we recommend either recording or writing down the details of the attack as soon as possible after the incident to ensure the most accurate memories of the incident)
- Insurance for the dog owner. If there is no homeowner’s insurance and the dog owner does not have significant assets it is difficult to recover damages.
Can I File a Lawsuit for a Dog Bite?
The short answer is yes; you can sue someone if you are bitten by their dog in most states. However, the best advice is to have your case evaluated by an attorney, as laws vary according to each individual state. In most instances, if the dog owner has a home insurance policy, it will cover the cost of a dog bite claim. But depending on the severity of your injuries, this may or may not be enough to cover the cost of your damages, so an attorney can negotiate with insurers to ensure you receive fair compensation.
Some states require proof that the dog who bit you had a history of aggressive behavior, which the owner was aware of, for you to receive compensation. If this was the first time the dog displayed violent behavior, then it is unlikely you will recover damages.
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Was My Dog Bite Severe Enough to Seek Damages?
If the bite was severe enough to break the skin, it’s vital that you request a history of the dog’s vaccination records from the owner or their vet. If the dog does not have any vaccinations on file, you must seek medical treatment to protect against zoonotic pathogens or diseases like rabies. If your injuries were enough to cause economic damages such as medical bills or physical therapy and non-economic damages such as mental anguish, pain, or suffering, then you likely have a case worth filing suit over.
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Will the Dog Be Euthanized If I Report the Bite Incident?
It is unlikely that reporting the dog bite will lead to euthanasia. Except in instances where the dog in question had several prior incidents or caused severe damage to the victim, most cases do not result in euthanasia. In most incidents, reporting the bite will result in stricter rules on how the dog owner should control the dog, a potential quarantine period to ensure the dog was not rabid, and a settlement from the insurance company.
What Do I Do If My Dog Bit Someone?
If your dog bites someone, call your homeowner’s insurance right away. Your insurance company will provide you with an attorney free of cost. If this was the first time your dog showed aggressive behavior, then you’ll likely be able to prove that you were not negligent. However, be aware that if your dog bite incident is reported to the authorities that you will need to take additional steps in the future to protect the public against your dog. Once a bite history is on record, you are more liable for suit in future incidents.
If you’ve been injured in a dog bite accident, seek medical attention and report the incident to the local police or animal control shelter immediately. By reporting the incident, you are documenting a potentially dangerous dog and preventing others from becoming injured in the future. If the dog has no past incident reports, it’s less likely that you’ll receive a maximized settlement. However, you are still expected to receive reimbursement for any medical injuries caused by the accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can best ensure you receive a full financial recovery.