If you were attacked by a neighbor's dog, you might be wondering if you have grounds for a lawsuit. Dog bites can lead to disease and infection, and large dog attacks can lead to permanent injuries, scars, and disfigurement. To pay for the cost of pain and suffering, as well as medical bills, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to review your case. Here are some common questions you might have about lawsuits involving animals attacks.
Can an owner really be held responsible for the actions of a dog?
The answer is yes. When families decide to keep pets, they are assuming the liabilities that the pets can cause. Also, owners are responsible to train pets, or to warn others of the danger their pet can cause. However, property ownership and trespassing come into play here, as dogs can be expected to guard property. You might not have much of a case if:
- you were not invited onto private property, but were trespassing. If the dog attacks you, the owner cannot be held at fault, as you should not have been there in the first place.
- the owner did plenty to warn about the dog's danger, such as posting "beware of dog" signs, fencing the property, and muzzling the dog while in public spaces.
- you provoked the dog to violent behavior by baiting it, yelling at it, stealing food or other aggressive behavior.
However, negligence on the owner's part means that they must have some responsibility for the incident. For example, if the owner is aware that the dog has violent tendencies toward strangers, and the dog is not restrained when a child comes to play, they are to be held responsible for the child's ensuing injuries after an attack.
How serious does an attack have to be in order to sue?
A simple dog bite might not be worth the time in court, simply because injuries from one bite won't provide you with much of a settlement. However, if money is not your desire, you could sue for the owner to get rid of the dog, or for them to put up certain safety implements, like a stronger fence. This will be especially important if other people have experienced similar, seemingly minor behavior from the dog. Your lawyer could make the argument that these measures are intended to prevent more serious injuries to neighbors in the future.
However, if the attack caused severe internal and external injuries which will take a lot of physical therapy and even emotional counseling to fully heal, your case should include monetary damages.
How soon after an attack should you involve a lawyer?
You should have a lawyer involved in your case as soon after the attack as possible, especially if injuries are severe. Of course, your first priority is to seek medical help, but your case will be made stronger if a lawyer is involved early, mainly because they will be able to compile a compelling case based on your injuries. They will be able to document the incident more accurately, and less of the case will have to rely on only your word. To make your case stronger you should:
- take pictures of all injuries, including minor ones
- get statements from emergency response staff and medical professionals
- get statements from anyone who might have witnessed the attack
- find ways to prove that the dog has showed violent tendencies in the past.
If you were the victim of a dog attack, you should not have to simply struggle through your injuries and the ensuing costs alone. The owner should take responsibility for the dog, not only financially, but also to prevent any future violence. Discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer to make sure you will get the compensation you need for your recovery. If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer to represent you, then take a look at this site.