Can You Sue for Injuries Caused by a Dog?
You know that when a person injures you during an accident, you can sue that person for the resulting pain, suffering, and financial damages. That other person’s recklessness or neglectfulness had disastrous consequences for you, and you do not deserve to suffer for another person’s actions, so you have the right to sue the responsible party.
However, an entirely different set of rules applies when an animal causes your injuries rather than a person. If a wild animal harms you, then you will have to pay for your medical expenses yourself. But if someone’s pet harms you, such as someone’s dog, then you can sue the owner for not controlling his or her animal properly.
Read on to learn more about proving that an animal owner’s negligence led to your injuries.
- Ensure Your Case Meets the Minimum Requirements
The burden of proof rests on you and your lawyer if you believe you have a dog bite case. To establish proof, you first have to show that your circumstances fit a series of criteria. These criteria include:
- You acted naturally around the animal that attacked you, and you did not provoke the attack. For example, some dog attacks occur because passersby did not respect the animal’s space and mistreated the creature in some way. However, if you did not go anywhere near the animal, and it attacked as you passed, then you could have a solid case.
- You were lawfully in the area when you were attacked by the dog. You did not sustain injuries while trespassing or attempting a burglary or home invasion. You were in a public space or some other place where you had the right to be there.
- Your injuries came from the dog that attacked you or occurred while you tried to escape an animal that clearly meant to harm you. You will have to collect as much proof as possible to show your injuries’ source.
- You sued the person who owns the dog that caused your injuries. You cannot sue bystanders or family members of the owner in most cases. You have to sue the person who directly controls the animal.
- The owner did not take any steps to control the dangerous animal or warn other people about the dog’s presence or behavior.
If your case meets all the criteria listed above, then you have given yourself a solid foundation for victory. However, you still have to prove that your circumstances meet these requirements.
- Gather Evidence of Your Injuries and What Caused Them
After your encounter with the dog, take pictures of your injuries and any damage to your clothes and other belongings, and see a doctor immediately so he or she can assess your wounds, give you the necessary treatment, and give his or her own statement about how the injuries occurred. You will need the doctor’s assessment to prove that the attack came from a dog.
Once you feel up to it, return to the scene where the attack occurred and take pictures of any signs of the attack, such as blood spatter, torn clothes, or damaged property. However, if you do not feel safe returning to this location, ask your lawyer if he or she would feel willing to do it. He or she can also return with a warrant to examine the dog for traces of your DNA in its mouth or nails.
Your lawyer may also suggest that you gather other evidence, such as witness testimonies or records of past attacks caused by the same dog. Again, if you do not know how to find this evidence, or if your injuries prevent you from gathering any proof yourself, your lawyer can take care of the burden of proof on your behalf. He or she has more experience and knows what to look for and where to look.
If you have suffered injuries because of a dog attack, do not wait any longer than you have to-you deserve restitution. Contact a lawyer in your area and use his or her expertise and the tips above to begin building your lawsuit. Rob handles dog bite cases and if you would like to talk to him personally, at no charge, about your case, give Rob a call at (425) 657-5255.