Written on Sep 2, 2020 10:22:08 AM
When Is a Dog Bite Worthy Of Legal Action?
Every year in the United States, 1 out of every 69 people will likely experience a dog bite. Over 80% of these dog bites are minor. While dog bite statistics find that there were 48 fatalities from dog bites in 2019, every year there are about 5 million dog bite attacks in the United States alone.
If you are one of the 20% of people who experience a serious dog bite injury, you can seek legal help. While very few people actually seek legal help for their injuries because the dog bites have not broken skin, the truth is, a dog bite is worthy of legal action whenever the bite of another party's dog has inflicted pain on someone.
When Should You Pursue Legal Action for Dog Bites?
Some people often ask whether or not you can take legal action for a dog bite injury if they were petting the dog before the accident took place. The short answer is yes, they can. As long as they were not teasing or provoking the dog, such as hitting it, pushing things into its face, or yelling at it, they definitely have good grounds for filing a suit for their dog bite injury.
Dog bite laws differ per state. For instance, Florida is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bite laws. This entails that a dog owner in Florida can be held liable for a dog bite, regardless of if the owner had any previous knowledge of the dog’s aggression. Unless the person bit is under the age of six, however, any negligence on behalf of the person bit reduces the liability of the owner.
A serious dog bite injury can result in some major costs, including medical bills, permanent scarring, rehabilitation, and psychological scarring, to name a few. Pursuing legal action can provide for these costs.
How To Prepare For a Dog Bite Lawsuit
If you are considering moving forward with a dog bite lawsuit, there are a few things you ought to do to make your case as successful as possible.
Take Pictures Of Your Dog Bite Injury
First of all, you need to adequately prepare for the dog bite case. Shortly after the bite occurs, take pictures of your wounds. It's fine if the extent of your wounds is just teeth marks - this evidence is adequate enough. It's important to note that taking photos after your wounds have had time to heal won't be of much help to your dog bite case.
Identify The Owner of the Dog
Second, it's of the utmost importance that you find out the owner of the dog; otherwise, there's no one liable for your dog bite injuries. Unfortunately, you can't take a dog to court. It's vital that you ask all witnesses to give out any information they know on the dog and its owners.
File A Police Report
Next, make sure you file a police report. When a report is filed, the police or animal control will investigate the dog's records to determine whether or not the animal has ever attacked another individual. If it has, this will certainly help your case. Either way though, the report also creates another written record of your injuries for the court.
Don't Meet With The Defendant's Insurance Adjuster
Also, you shouldn't meet with the defendant's insurance adjuster. The insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, and their main goal is to limit the insurance company's liability for your injuries. They might try to get you to say things that are damaging to your lawsuit, or get you to accept a quick settlement for a whole lot less than the case is actually worth. Direct all their questions to your lawyer.
Dealing With Other Dog-Related Injuries
You might be wondering whether or not you can file a lawsuit for your dog-related injury, even if the dog doesn't actually bite you or your child, but knocks you down. Absolutely. Like in a dog bite case, the owner of the dog is obligated to take reasonable control of the dog, and he/she failed to do so.
Examples of dog-related injuries other than a dog bite include scratch injuries, falls from tripping over dogs, or collisions with dogs on both motorized or non-motorized vehicles.
Hire An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you are pursuing a dog bite lawsuit, it’s important to have experienced assistance, as in someone who has handled dog bite cases before. Depending on the evidence you have available, your case could become difficult and complicated. Contacting your local personal injury attorney to help you collect the damages you deserve can make all the difference in your case and relieve you from a lot of the stress surrounding lawsuits. If you've been dealing with a dog bite due to someone else's negligence, you can't wait forever to file a claim, so act immediately!