Our Experienced Dog Bite Personal Injury Attorneys Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know If You Were Bit and Injured By a Dog
Having a pet is something that is commonplace in society today. While domesticated animals such as dogs are generally affectionate and harmless, thousands of Americans are injured by pets each year. Injuries from a dog bite can be serious, and often result in pain, infection and permanent scarring. If you were bit by a dog, here are some important things you should know.
When Is a Dog Owner Responsible for a Dog Bite?
The owner of a dog is legally responsible for the bite if the owner was aware that the dog had “vicious propensities”. This concept means that the dog must have an inclination to act in a way that endangers people. Evidence that the dog had previously bitten, jumped at, or injured someone else is the kind of proof necessary to win a dog bite case. It is not enough that the dog barks, or occasionally strains at the leash. Instead, the Court looks at whether the animal has a history of endangering or threatening people. If there is no prior history of this type of behavior, the case will be dismissed.
In addition, the owner of the dog must have been aware of the animal’s vicious propensity. This is called the notice requirement. Like other areas of the law, it is not necessary that the owner actually know that the dog is vicious. Instead, the owner can be held responsible if he “should have known” of the dog’s vicious disposition.
The conduct of the person who is bit by the dog is also important because of the concept of comparative fault. To figure this out, the jury considers questions like whether: the person ignored a “Beware of Dog” sign; or the person taunted the dog; or the person entered the property while the dog was barking or agitated. Ultimately, the jury will need to know whether, the injured person “unreasonably put themselves in danger”. If the jury finds this to be true, any damages award will be reduced by the percentage of fault of the person bit.
How Do You Prove (and win) a Dog Bite Accident Case?
Every case involving a dog bite accident is different. As a result, the proof needed, depends on the specific circumstances of the case. Here are some general guidelines about the type of proof that is important in this type of case:
- Proof of vicious propensities – the best way to find out if a dog is dangerous, just ask. While neighbors might be reluctant to cooperate, try asking the local mailman or a delivery person about the specific dog. These types of witnesses are especially knowledgeable about the behavior of dogs in the neighborhood, and are usually aware of the scary ones.
- Check with your local Department of Health – local government offices usually require that a dog bite be reported. For example, New York City Health Code has this requirement.
- Locate witnesses – while it is important to identify witnesses who are aware of the dangers of the dog, it is also helpful if there are witnesses to the actual attack. These types of witnesses can help establish that the injured party was not comparatively at fault for the incident.
- Inspect the area for video cameras – look and see whether there are any surveillance cameras in the vicinity of your incident.
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If you have any questions about a dog bite incident, contact our experienced dog bite attorneys by email or calling (800) 762-9300 for more information. You can also get started by simply filling out one of our case intake forms, and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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