No matter how cute or friendly they look, any dog can turn in a fraction of a second. A dog bite is often a traumatic experience that leaves the victim afraid of other animals and worried about what to do next. No matter where you live, there are state laws that protect you. Whether you have a neighbor with a dog they let roam freely around your block or a pet in the vet’s office bites you, you need to know the next step. Find out about the legal help that’s available for dog bite victims.
What to Do After a Bite
The American Veterinary Association found that nearly one out of every five dog bite victims must see a doctor. Even if you think you’re fine, you should still talk to a doctor. Dogs have sharp canine teeth. When they bite, they often exert enough pressure to break the skin. They can also cause soft tissue damage that worsens with time. Try to clean the wound yourself and wrap it until you can get to the hospital or your doctor’s office to lessen the chances of infection.
Know the Law
Most states hold the dog’s owner liable for any injuries they cause. Other states require that the owner be negligent and will ask that you prove they didn’t take care of their pet. For example, you might present security camera footage that shows the dog on your property multiple times before the attack or show proof that you previously talked to animal control about the dog. Some states also ask for proof that the dog owner knew the animal was aggressive or that the dog bit other people or acted in similar ways in the past.
Gather Proof of the Attack
To file a legal claim against the dog’s owner, you must show proof of the attack and how it affected you. This includes any medical bills you have as a result of the attack. Keep in mind that you have a better case of filing against the owner for a serious attack. If the dog came into your yard and bit your leg but didn’t draw blood or even break through your clothing, you’re better off reaching out to animal control. Lawyers handle cases where you need stitches or other treatments for the bite.
Talk to an Attorney
Talking to a dog bite attorney is the best way to determine if you have a case. You usually qualify for a free consultation in which the attorney reviews the case details and decides on the next step. They may recommend that you talk to the owner’s insurer. The insurer will often pay for your medical bills and any other costs you face. Your attorney can also tell you more about dog bite laws in your state and if the owner broke any of those laws.
Another reason to work with an attorney is that they will go over all of the possible defenses the owner can claim. Trespassing is just one of them. The owner might argue that you came onto their private property, which caused the dog to act out. An owner can also argue that you provoked the dog. They can say that you taunted or teased the dog.
Another possible defense is presumed risk when the owner argues that you knew the dog was a risk, but you didn’t protect yourself. If the owner has signs in their yard to warn others of an aggressive dog, you cannot argue that you didn’t know the dog was dangerous. Your attorney can help you decide the best way to argue against the defense.
Get Legal Help After a Dog Bite
A dog bite attack can lead to injuries that cause problems for years and emotional pain and suffering caused by the trauma of the attack. While you may not immediately consider going after the dog’s owner, you should consider it after speaking to a doctor. Whether you suffered an injury or a dog attacked a loved one, legal help is out there. Find an attorney in your area who handles personal injury claims, such as dog bites, to get the help you need.
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