Dog Bite Laws: Understanding Liability and Legal Recourse

Unfortunately, Dog bite incidents remain prevalent across the United States, with mail carriers at the highest risk of attacks. This is because when delivering packages, mail delivery crews have to leave their vans and walk …

photo of long-coated brown dog barking

Unfortunately, Dog bite incidents remain prevalent across the United States, with mail carriers at the highest risk of attacks. This is because when delivering packages, mail delivery crews have to leave their vans and walk up the driveway, which may attract the attention of an aggressive dog.

According to the National Library of Medicine, over 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs yearly, and approximately 30-50 people are killed annually. While most dog bite victims don’t suffer serious injuries, dog bites can lead to lingering trauma and substantial medical expenses.

The victim may qualify for economic and emotional damage compensation when this happens. However, you’ll need the services of a skilled dog attack attorney to help you navigate the legal challenges and negotiate for fair compensation.

Understanding the Legal Standard of Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Dog bite laws vary from state to state, with some conditions following strict liability laws and others operating under negligence rules regarding dog bites. In strict liability states, the dog owner is held responsible for any damages caused by their dog. The victim doesn’t have to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner or whether or not they knew about their dog’s aggression. They simply need to show that they were seriously injured from the dog bite.

On the other hand, negligence rules require dog bite victims to demonstrate that the dog owner knew or should have known about their dog’s dangerous tendency to bite strangers. Negligence rules may be used when a dog causes injury through behaviors other than grinding. For instance, if a dog knocks you down and causes injuries, you may be able to seek compensation through a negligence-based claim.

Under the negligence law, the dog owner is also required to take reasonable measures to prevent dog bites, and failure to do so makes them liable for the injuries or damages caused. Depending on the circumstances, such precautions may include fencing their yard, keeping the dog on a leash, or restraining a potentially aggressive dog from people entirely. However, to win a lawsuit, the victim must prove that the pet owner failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the injury.

It’s important to note that a major exception exists for dog bite liability cases if the injured person provokes the dog. In some states, someone who provokes a dog that ultimately bites them is not eligible for compensation, even if the owner shares some responsibility.

Damages to Claim in Dog Bite Cases

You can file a lawsuit or claim with the dog owner’s insurance provider if a dog bite injures you or your loved one. Damages caused by pets are generally covered under the pet owner’s renters or homeowner’s insurance policy. You can claim compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and possibly emotional distress following a dog bite injury.

While medical costs and lost wages are generally straightforward to calculate objectively, claiming for pain and suffering, such as ongoing trauma or disfiguring injuries, can be a complex legal process. You will need the help of a skilled attorney to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you truly deserve.

Strategies for Filing a Claim Against an Animal Owner

The first thing to consider when filing a claim against a dog owner is the statute of limitations for dog bite cases. Most states have a one-year statute of limitations, meaning the injured party has just one year from the incident date to file their claim. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the courts won’t hear your case, preventing you from seeking compensation.

A proper dog bite claim starts with precise documentation. Make sure you seek medical attention following a dog bite incident, regardless of how serious or minor your injury appears. Prompt medical care can prevent infections or more serious medical complications. It also helps you document the injury and its severity. Such medical records can provide essential evidence when filing a claim. Additionally, take photos of the injury to help with future personal injury claims.

Moreover, report the incident to animal control or the police. Regardless of how much the pet owner persuades you to reach an informal agreement to cover your medical expenses, it is best to avoid it, as these agreements aren’t legally binding. Reporting the bite and sticking to the formal claims process is the recommended course of action. The police report and their investigation will provide critical evidence for the claim.

Hire a Skilled Dog Attack Attorney!

If a dog has bitten you or someone you love, you should be able to receive compensation for the injuries incurred. However, dog bite claims can quickly become complicated. Always work with an experienced dog attack attorney to help you achieve the best outcome. A skilled personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and assist you in negotiating the compensation you truly deserve.

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