Disclaimer: If you’ve experienced a dog bite, the following information is only considered as general guidance regarding the legal process. It does not, however, serve actual legal advice. To understand the legal nature of suffering a dog bite, it is encouraged that you consult a licensed attorney who has experience with dog bite injuries similar to yours.
You’re having a family picnic in one of the nearby parks – and your kids are enjoying the place when you see a dog and his owner roaming around. You’re feeling nervous about your children’s safety, and before you can warn your youngest child not to chase the dog, you heard her scream, and you find out that one of your kids suffered a dog bite. If you (or your child) has experienced a dog bite, below are the legal considerations to remember:
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention: When your child is bitten by a dog, don’t waste time and obtain immediate medical attention as soon as possible.
● Aside from treating the physical wounds, be sure to also ensure that your child is assessed mentally for emotional stress and trauma caused by the dog bite.
● If necessary, ask for professional help when you notice some behavior changes in your child.
2. Report The Bite To Your Local Animal Services or The Police: Reporting the dog bite to your local animal services center or the police is essential for recording purposes.
● It is best if a record is established to bring about further action.
● Once the incident is reported to the police, they can determine the necessity of a police investigation.
3. Gather Pieces Of Evidence When Needed: When you’re filing a claim with your insurance company, they will most likely require you to present some pieces of evidence to substantiate your claim.
● Remember to take photos of yourself (or your child) who had a dog bite, the dog itself, the scene and other things which could be important in your insurance claims.
4. Consult A Lawyer For Any Legal Information Regarding the Incident: When you feel that you need to bring legal action against the owner of the dog, you can look for an animal attack or dog bite attorney who is familiar with this type of case.
● Consult your case to an attorney for any available remedies you can take advantage of.
● In most cases, if you (or your child) is a dog bite victim, the law also provides you with the legal rights to recover compensation from the offender party.
● When dealing with legal matters about dog bite laws, below are the things you need to know:
a. Understanding and Applying The “Strict Liability Statutes”: When you’re confronted with dog bite cases, more than half of the States apply the strict liability statutes in filing lawsuits against the dog owner. It means that the law imposes a more stringent standard of fault against the dog’s owner.
o These laws are based on the notion that the owner is automatically held liable for the injury caused by the dog bite.
o In cases like these, the principle of negligence on the part of the dog owner is not required.
o The moment you (or your child) suffer a dog bite, the owner incurs liability for the injury caused by his/her dog.
o Here, you can file legal action to recover economic damages against the offender party. Also, if you feel that you deserve more than the compensation for your medical costs and lost wages, you can also present your case before the courts of law for the recovery of non-economic damages for the pain and suffering that the dog bite incident has caused you and your family. So, check your State laws on dog bites, you may want to institute a lawsuit to establish the owner’s liability for you or your child’s dog bite injuries.
b. Considering The Principle of Negligence in Dog Bites Cases: In most States, the principle of negligence plays a relevant role in establishing one’s liability against the owner.
o It’s one of the efficient ways of seeking relief under the law for the injuries and damages brought by the offender to the aggrieved party.
o When you’re dealing with dog bite cases under the common law, you are required to submit pieces of evidence to prove your claim against the other party.
o You have to show the offender’s guilt and the negligence to perform a reasonable care in ensuring that his/her dog is not dangerous to other people.
o The offender party, in this case, can also raise their defense on the ground of provocation on the part of the dog bite victim. Here, the court will see the possibility that you (or your child) provoked the dog to bite you, or you knew that your actions would be annoying to the dog, and they prompted the attack.
So if you’re currently dealing with a dog bite, it is good when you know how the dog bite laws in your State are working. Besides, these laws usually vary from one State to the other. But, one thing is important here, and that is to speak with a local dog bite lawyer today to know more about your legal rights.
About Don Walker
Don is a law enthusiast who's had over 25 years of experience in his field. He currently writes for Abels & Annes, P.C. - Chicago and enjoys sharing his experiences with those who want to learn more about the legal world. In his spare time he spends quality time with his family and friends.