Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation if you are injured by a dog. In most cases, the dog’s owner will be liable and will need to pay any medical bills relating to the injury.
Basics of Dog Owner Liability
In the United States, nearly 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year, with almost 800,000 of those bites requiring medical treatment. In general, the owner of the dog is liable if:
1. The owner knew that the dog was likely to cause injury – known as the “one-bite rule.” The victim will need to be able to prove that the owner knew the dog posed a danger.
2. A state law making the owner responsible – there may be a statute in your state that makes the dog owner liable regardless of whether or not they knew the dog had the tendency to bite.
3. The dog owner was negligent in controlling the dog, resulting in an injury – even if a dog is fenced in its owner’s yard, but escapes and bites someone on the sidewalk, the owner is responsible because it failed to adequately control the dog’s roaming area.
Steps to Take Following a Dog Bite or Attack
1. Get the dog owner’s contact information: Whether you decide to file charges or not, having the dog owner’s contact information is essential. Even if you do not believe that you have been injured, you may notice a pain or discomfort later. For instance, if a dog lunged at you but you were able to jump out of the way before a bite could occur, it is possible that you hurt your ankle in the process. Though the injury was not directly caused by the dog, it happened as a result of the dog lunging at you.
2. Get witness information: If there are any witnesses present, be sure to gather their contact information. You may need their testimony regarding the dog attack, if your version and the dog owners’ version do not match.
3. Seek medical attention: Should your bite or other injury be serious enough, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Remember to keep all medical records relating to the injury, including doctors’ notes and copies of medical bills. By keeping copies of medical expenses that you paid relating to the dog bite or other injury, you may be able to get reimbursed later if the dog’s owner is found liable.
4. File an injury report with your local animal control office: Whether or not the dog has license tags, be sure to report it if you are bitten. All dog bites should be reported so that authorities can track the animal down and test it for rabies.
Seek Legal Help
If you are injured by a dog, speak to an experienced dog bite attorney. The lawyers at Ingerman & Horwitz can help construct your case, as they know how to get you the compensation you need to get your life back on track.