In some cases, a bite by a stray dog could mean taking care of your injuries on your own. However, when the dog has an owner, you may be entitled to be paid for not only your medical treatment costs but also your lost wages, ruined personal property, and, in some cases, pain and suffering. Dog bites can cause serious injuries that can get infected and require a lot of treatment to overcome. In some cases, the bites are disfiguring and life-threatening. Here is what dog bite victims need to know.
Know Who to Call
Regardless of how serious or minor the bite is, be sure to call your local animal control department to report the bite. Not only do many places keep up with dog incidents by the owner, but your case can use the extra corroboration the reporting will bring when you seek compensation.
Owners Are Responsible
Dog owners are responsible for their pet's actions — even when at their own home. If you are bitten at the dog owner's home, the owner failed in their duty to protect you as a visitor. In some cases, when the dog's owner is also a homeowner, their homeowners' insurance may cover some of your damages. However, don't sign a release or accept money without speaking to a personal injury lawyer. They can advise you on how much you should be compensated.
Negligence by the Owner
While not all states have specific dog owner negligence laws, the states that do have this law on the books can give victims more power to take legal action. When the word "negligence" is used, it elevates the incident to a new level that rises above an accident. The owner might be negligent when they disobey leash laws, for example. Some states and municipalities also have laws in place that prohibit the owners from allowing dogs to escape from enclosures. Being able to sue the owner for this type of negligence may mean you are also entitled to punitive damages along with compensatory damages as mentioned above.
In some states, the dog may have already had run-ins with others. If the dog is on record as having already bitten someone, you may be able to file suit against the owner. Unfortunately, in states with one-bite laws, you might only be able to gain compensation if the dog has already bitten someone once.
Be sure to contact a law firm and speak to a personal injury lawyer to find out how your state views dog bite injuries and get paid for your damages.