Thousands of people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, full compensation for the cost of medical bills could be provided by the animal owner, whether through homeowner’s insurance, through renter’s insurance, or as an out-of-pocket expense.
However, in more severe cases, you may need to take legal action. In addition to having the dog picked up by animal control and tested for rabies, which may not result in the animal being euthanized, you should seek advice and legal guidance from a qualified attorney needed to file a liability lawsuit.
Legal Grounds for a Lawsuit
The grounds for filing a liability lawsuit vary by state due to statutes, city and county ordinances, and decisions by the court. To win a case like this, you need an attorney who can prove a number of things, including:
- Prior bite history with the owner having full knowledge
- Bite that occurred outside the boundaries of the dog owner’s residence and with no leash on the animal (a violation of local leash laws)
- Neglectful or misleading act that led to the bite
Keep in mind that the person in control of the dog is liable, whether it is the actual owner, a friend, relative, neighbor, or professional dog walker.
Different Bite Rules
In every state, if the owner or person in charge of the dog knew the animal had bitten someone previously or had a tendency to bite without justification prior to your incident, that individual is held liable. While this is the law throughout the U.S., in just a few states statutory liability has not been enacted. The challenge for your attorney will be in proving that a prior bite or tendency to bite occurred with the owner having knowledge.
Unfortunately, many people believe that dogs get one free pass, but this is actually not true since injuries sustained due to being tripped or knocked down by the animal also apply. In addition, if the bite was due to negligence of the animal owner or person in charge, that individual can be held liable. Things like letting a dog run loose in a park, walking too many dogs at the same time, chaining a dog up around a lot of children, or violating animal control laws are all considered negligence. Once your attorney proves this in your case, full compensation must be paid.
In approximately 35% of states, a dog owner or person in charge is held liable for bites pursuant to a state statute, which means you can receive compensation. In this case, you are not made out to be an accuser toward the owner or person in charge. Also, no proof of wrongdoing is required. For these reasons, statutory liability is the least damaging on relationships, since in 75% of dog bites, the liable party is a family member or friend.
Since dog bites lawsuits are affected by a unique combination of laws and ordinance, as well as court decisions, they require highly skilled legal services from an attorney who has years of experience in this particular area of law.