When Should You Initiate a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Dogs are a person’s best friend, and they are great companions and part of the family. But sometimes, a dog can act out of character and cause minor to serious damage. In case you are injured or bitten by a dog, you need to consider what action you should take after experiencing such an incident and understand the statute of limitations in your country.

The best thing would be to consult with a dog bite law firm and proceed accordingly. An experienced attorney will help you explore your options and pursue compensation to which you are entitled. Below are some of the things you should know before filing a lawsuit.

Photo by Kobi Kadosh from Unsplash

Filing a dog bite lawsuit

In case you get injured or bitten by a dog, no matter how minor or severe the injury is, remember that according to the law, the dog’s owner is most likely liable for what happened. You have the right to pursue legal action and compensation, but it all depends on the laws in your state and whether the dog’s owner will be held responsible for the bite.

The victims of a dog bite usually have a hard time deciding whether they should pursue the dog’s owner to recover their damages. This usually happens after a minor dog bite incident, but keep in mind that you still might be able to recover compensation. When the dog bite is severe, you probably have significant damage like medical bills, lost wages, or permanent scarring, and so it’s worth pursuing legal action.

As we mentioned earlier, the best thing would be to hire an experienced attorney who’ll help you with your dog bite claim. They will advise you what evidence to collect and after evaluating your case they’ll tell you whether you need to file a lawsuit or pursue a claim. Bear in mind that dog bite injuries can cause mental and emotional distress for which you can also recover compensation.

In most cases, attorneys usually don’t file a lawsuit, but rather pursue a legal claim against the dog’s insurance company, as most policies cover dog bites. If your attorney cannot reach a reasonable settlement out of court, then you need to file a lawsuit. And remember, it’s important to have an attorney who’s prepared to take the case to trial.

What do you need to prove when suing for a dog bite?

Suing under strict liability

Depending on the state, there are different rules regarding liability. Usually, the dog’s owner is held liable even if they had no prior knowledge or warning that their dog might bite. In some states there is a “one-bite rule”, meaning that for the dog owner to be held liable, they must have known or had a reason to know that the dog was dangerous. This would mostly apply if the dog had previously bitten someone.

For suing under strict liability, you don’t need to prove the dog’s owner was negligent. You just need to prove that the dog bit you, attacked you, or knocked you down and that the incident caused injuries and damages.

Suing under common law negligence

To file a common-law action for injuries from a dog, you must show that the dog’s owner failed to control their canine, failed to restrict it, failed to warn others, or failed to take any other action. In some states, a person injured by a dog may pursue claims under both common law negligence and the State’s specific dog bite statutes.

In some states, there is a law that dictates special requirements for a dog designated as a nuisance or listed as dangerous or vicious. This means that people who know their dog is potentially dangerous, have a duty to take additional precautions to protect others.

Photo by Dasha Urvachova from Unsplash

Compensation for dog bite victims

The law offers those harmed by a dog great opportunities to pursue financial compensation from responsible parties, such as:

  • Costs of physical and mental therapy and rehab
  • Past, present, and future medical expenses
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Costs for ongoing care and support services
  • Loss of marital and other relationships
  • Lost wages and reduced earnings

Final thoughts

If you or anyone you know has been bitten by a dog, you may be able to recover compensation by pursuing legal action. These types of cases can be a bit complicated but it is possible to win if you consult with an experienced attorney. Just remember to take action right away because the time made available to do this can be strictly limited.