You’re walking little Rover on a leash through your neighborhood. Another dog sees you and begins walking. As you pass by, it gets out of its yard and bites your leg. Or perhaps you’ve gone to visit a friend who has a “friendly” canine. As you get out of the car, it slips around behind you and takes a bite.
Any dog is a candidate to bite someone if they are afraid, protecting property or provoked. The bite can be minor and not even break the skin, especially with small dogs. It can also cause major damage and require surgery and rehabilitation. You need to understand the liability involved in such a situation and your rights to sue and receive compensation.
State and City Laws
Laws about dog bites vary by state and even by city. There are generally three types of liability for the dog owner.
Statutes for Dog Bites
With this law, the owner of the dog is automatically liable for any injury from a dog bite that happened without cause. It’s important to note that if the dog was provoked, such as being taunted or other actions by the victim, the dog owner may not be held liable. In the above examples, the statutes would cover the victim and hold the owner of the dog responsible for the injuries.
Knowledge of Danger
In other situations, there may be what is known as a one-bite rule. The owner of the dog would be liable if they were aware that it was dangerous because it had bitten someone in the past. It is often up to the victim to prove that the owner knew their dog might bite and didn’t take the appropriate steps to prevent the situation.
A dog owner may be proven to be negligent if they didn’t take appropriate action to prevent a dog bite. This not only includes keeping them contained in a yard or home, but it can also refer to them controlling the pet when it’s being walked on a leash.
Can You Sue for Damages?
The short answer is “yes” as to whether you can sue someone if their dog bites you. The more complicated answer is in how to handle the situation. If the dog owner has adequate insurance to pay for medical care, you may not need to file a lawsuit.
Many times, an insurance provider will seek to settle as quickly as possible, which may not be in your best interest. In some situations, the owner may even try to get you to forget about the incident, especially if it was a minor bite. However, even minor bites can carry rabies and you want to know the dog is current on its shots.
If it’s an isolated incident and you feel that there is no further danger, you may decide to let the incident go. On the other hand, if the bite was more serious or if the dog has a history, you may want to take further action. It’s best to file a police report for any major bites for the proper documentation if you believe there may be issues later on.
Suing for a Dog Bite
If the neighbor refuses to take responsibility or if the insurance provider won’t pay for all the costs of treatment, you can sue for damages. You will want to work with an attorney who knows about the local and state laws.
You may receive compensation for all medical treatment for the dog bite as well as any lost wages due to being off from work. If the bite was serious and caused permanent disfigurement, you can receive damages for future expenses and any disability. You may also be compensated for pain and emotional suffering, which can be severe with a dog bite.
Our Douglasville dog bite lawyers at The Embry Law Firm is experienced with dog bite cases and will represent you in a lawsuit. We may be able to negotiate a settlement for your case to ensure your expenses are covered and the dog owner takes responsibility. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, contact The Embry Law Firm to find out your rights for compensation.