Dog bite? Animal attack? Know your rights!

by Michael Heygood

Many state laws hold a dog owner responsible for injuries to a person bitten by their dog based simply on ownership of the dog. Other states require the bite victim to prove that the dog was known by the owner to be dangerous or vicious or to prove the owner was negligent or violated an animal control law.

If you have been bitten by a dog and injured, the good news is that such damages are covered by most homeowners and renters insurance policies.

A dog bite victim is generally entitled to receive compensation for the full range of his or her damages. For example, damages due to a dog bite injury may include pain, mental suffering, permanent scarring, temporary or permanent disability, loss of future earning capacity, loss of quality-of-life, medical expenses, cosmetic services to improve the appearance of the injury, psychological counseling and lost income or earning capacity as result of the injury.

The actual law that applies to a dog bite lawsuit varies from state to state and can even vary from town to town within a state. “Dog bite law” is a ultimately a combination of city and county ordinances, state laws and regulations and “judge-made” law—i.e., rulings in previous dog bite lawsuits.

In many states, you may need to prove:

  1. That the dog previously bit another person or acted like it wanted to, and that the dog owner knew about it. Sometimes it’s useful for a private investigator to probe the neighborhood and study the dog’s past.
  2. That a dog owner or landlord or business owner was negligent in some manner and the negligence was one of the causes of the biting incident. A landlord or business can sometimes be held liable for negligence for allowing a vicious dog to live on the premises.
  3. That a dog owner violated an animal control law and the violation led to the bite. For example, the owner may have failed to follow a leash law.

When someone is injured due to a dog bite or animal attack, they have the right to seek compensation for injuries and damages under personal injury law. If you or someone you know is a victim of a dog bite or animal attack:

  • Immediately seek medical attention for the injuries;
  • Get the contact information from the owner of the animal;
  • Always report the injury to the proper authorities (police, animal control, etc.);
  • Take photographs of the dog, the place where the attack happened, and the injuries; and
  • Write down exactly how the attack occurred.

If you or a loved one have been bitten or attacked by an animal, please contact us for a free consultation so we can help you determine the best way to protect your legal rights and interests. Contact our firm for a free consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free online contact form.

by Michael Heygood

Michael Heygood is a licensed attorney and partner at HO&P who focuses on insurance and corporate litigation, and other civil arenas. Michael has been named multiple times to the Super Lawyers List.