A dog bite, from any dog, can cause serious injury, and you shouldn't take any dog bite lightly. If you have been bitten by someone's dog, check out these five facts you should know.
It's Not Just Bites on Public Property
Naturally, if a dog is wandering the street unleashed with an owner and it bites you, the owner is responsible because they are required to keep their pet leashed while in public unless otherwise specified, such as at a dog park. However, a pet owner must typically take steps to prevent their dog from biting anyone on the owner's own property (a visiting friend, a mail carrier, etc.). Of course, in the case of trespassers, the laws are slightly different. In some cases, a trespasser can sue if they were bit, and the owner knew the dog would bite. However, it's not likely a jury will side with a trespasser who was conducting other illegal activity, such as burglary.
Different States Follow Different Guidelines
Some states follow strict liability dog laws, while others have a one-bite law. Strict liability laws are more biased toward the dog. Even if the dog has never bitten or nipped at someone in the past, if the defendant has a legitimate case, the pet owner may be held responsible. Other states are more lenient. As the name suggests, a one-bite law means that the dog has shown aggression at least once in the past. This doesn't only mean the dog has bitten someone. If a dog constantly lunges or tries to attack you, it may be proof of aggression.
The Owner May Also Be Negligent
If a dog slipped out of its harness for the first time, ran away from its owner and bit you, you probably can't prove negligence. It was an accident that could not have been foreseen by the pet owner. That doesn't mean you can't sue. It just means you may not be able to sue the owner for negligence too. On the other hand, if the owner is blatantly not following leash laws and the dog bites, you may be able to get some additional money because the owner was negligent, especially if the dog has shown aggression in the past because the owner could reasonably foresee a bite occurring.
Your Damages May Be More Than Physical
Getting bitten by a dog is an attack. Naturally, this can cause physical damages, but the long-lasting effects are more emotional. It doesn't matter the severity of the attack or the size of the dog, if you are bitten or attacked by a dog, you are scared, and you may even genuinely fear for your life. In some cases, you may develop a phobia of dogs. In even more serious situations, it may cause anxiety about leaving your home for fear of getting bitten, or depression over scars you have from the attack.
The Bite Should Always Be Reported
No matter what you decide to do, the dog bite should be reported. For starters, if you do decide to sue because you have damages or injuries, reporting the bite helps your case by proving you were serious enough to report the bite right after it happened. This shows it wasn't just an afterthought you had later. At the same time, if you don't decide to sue, reporting the bite can protect others. This is especially important in those one-bite states.
Dogs are supposed to be your best friend, but sometimes, due to improper handling by the owner, a dog may attack. Even if you were attacked by someone's dog at their own home, you may be entitled to reimbursement. For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer, like one from Hardee and Hardee LLP, in your area today.