You might be surprised to know that there are over four billion dog bites in the U.S. every year, almost a thousand of which require medical treatment. If you’re the victim of a dog bite, you may be wondering about how a dog bite lawsuit works. Here are some important facts you need to know.
Different states have different liability laws
Different states in the U.S. have different rules regarding liability in dog bite cases. Some states have a “one bite” rule. To be held liable, the owner must have reason to know that the dog would bite, such as if the dog had bitten someone in the past.
In Florida, owners can be held liable for first incidences of dog bites even if they didn’t have any prior knowledge that their dogs would bite. An injured person also doesn’t have to prove that a dog owner exercised a lack of reasonable care.
Finding “attorneys near me” is easy on the USAttorneys.com website, where you can search for experienced personal injury lawyers who know the liability laws in different states.
Reasons why a dog owner may not be held liable for a dog bite
Some common reasons why a dog owner may not be held liable for a dog bite include:
Trespassing: The dog owner may not be held liable if you were trespassing in the place where you received the dog bite.
Provocation: If a lawyer can prove that you were teasing the dog, being aggressive, or provoking it in any way, there’s a good chance you won’t win your case.
Contributory negligence: A dog owner may argue that you were partially to blame. For example, the owner may have warned you not to approach the dog, but you did so anyway.
Your attorney will be able to tell you whether you have a legal basis for a claim and whether you have the potential to win and receive monetary compensation.
Lawsuits require time, effort and financial commitment. If you are bitten by a dog, and it is only a small bite that’s easily treated, it doesn’t really warrant a lawsuit.
Homeowner’s insurance may cover a dog bite
If you have homeowner’s insurance, it may cover the costs of a dog bite that occurs on your property. This can lead to a settlement without having to go to court.
Whether you want to file a claim against your homeowner’s insurance policy or against the dog owner directly, you will want to work with a qualified attorney. If the insurance company or dog owner proposes settling with you, your attorney can negotiate on your behalf.
This means you won’t end up accepting a settlement that’s too low. Serious dog bites can cause long-term problems that result in high medical bills and may even cause disability. If you settle without consulting an attorney and end up having further problems down the line, you have no recourse.
Statute of limitations
Many states have a “statute of limitations,” and you have to bring a lawsuit within a specific time period. In Florida, you have to bring a lawsuit within four years from the time the incident occurred. This may seem like a long period, but it is never a good idea to delay if you want to bring a lawsuit.
The earlier you consult with an attorney, the easier it will be to collect evidence for your case. Most attorneys offer free consultations so you can discuss your case and see whether you have the grounds to file a dog attack lawsuit.