They say that dogs are a man’s best friend. They can protect your property, your belongings, and they make a great companion. But things can get out of hand sometimes and in one moment you could find yourself embroiled in a dog bite lawsuit. Getting bitten by a dog can be fatal due to the rabies that could easily spread throughout your body. Before anything else, you need to seek medical attention as you can get seriously injured, infected, or worse, die. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic says that outside of the United States, dogs are the most common source of rabies transmission to humans.
Once medical treatment has been done, you can try to hold the owner of the dog liable for damages. According to the website of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, dog bites can be traumatic because it will require extensive medical and rehabilitative treatment. If you plan to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog, you may first need to understand the laws in your state regarding dog bites. Aside from that, it is important to know that these lawsuits are not resolved quickly and may take a few months or years to have a conclusion.
Proving liability is the main concern when it comes to dog bites. You and your lawyer will have to work hand in hand to show in court that the owner of the dog was liable for the injuries you sustained due to the dog’s behavior. Depending on the state you are in, holding the owner liable can be a real challenge.
In some states such as in California, dog bites are governed by strict liability laws. This means that any injuries that result from the dog bite will make the owner at fault. The only time the owner will not be held liable in a strict liability law state is when you were trespassing in the property of the owner or if it can be proven that you were taunting the dog.
Likewise, in other states, liability is governed by the “one bite” law. In a state like Texas, for example, a dog owner is not responsible for any injuries, if it was the first time you were bitten by a dog. However, succeeding bites will make the dog owner liable. According to the website of the Benton Law Firm, the owner of the dog can also be charged with second-degree felony or imprisonment of up to 20 years if the victim dies after the dog bite.
It is worth noting that even if your case does not comply with the requirements to make the owner liable in a strict liability or one bite state, you can still prove negligence on the part of the owner. You can still charge them due to their violation of the leash law, which allowed the dog to attack you. This way, you can still charge the owner even if it is the first time that their dogs bit you.
The dog bite lawsuit commences when your lawyer sends a demand letter to the owner of the dog informing them of your intention to press charges, your injuries, the argument, and the acceptable settlement amount.
After sending of the letter, the period of negotiation comes. Your lawyer will try to negotiate a settlement agreement that is favorable to you. If the other party does not agree, then your lawyer will now file the formal lawsuit against the owner of the dog.
At the trial stage, the prosecution and defense will now proceed with the presentation of their evidences by presenting their witnesses. The jury will then deliberate and give their verdict.
Dog bite lawsuits can be a long and draining process so you need to ask yourself whether it is worthwhile to pursue a case against the dog owner.