Another kind of personal injury case is for injuries arising out of a dog bite. Most states make it unlawful for the owner of a dog to fail to keep it either confined within the owner’s premises or firmly secured by means of a collar and chain. A violation of such a law resulting in a dog bite is strong evidence of negligence. If you were bitten as a result of such a violation, it is likely that you can successfully pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the dog. In most cases, homeowners’ insurance will cover such a claim.
One Free Bite Rule
Some states have what is known as a one free bite rule. This means that, under ordinary circumstances, the dog owner would not be responsible for the dog’s first bite. You would have to prove that the dog had previously bitten another person or, at the very least, shown vicious propensities through fierce behavior in order to prevail in a dog bite case.
In other states, the one free bite rule has been abolished. The plaintiff is no longer required to prove that the dog showed vicious propensities prior to the attack. Essentially, you would simply have to prove that the dog owner was careless in confining or handling the dog and that this led to the attack.
A typical defense in dog bite cases is that the plaintiff harassed the dog in some way, thereby leading to the attack. If, for example, a group of teenage boys were taunting and throwing rocks at a dog and the dog responded by biting one or more of the boys, the insurance defense attorney would argue that the attack was not the dog’s fault. Under these circumstances, this would probably be an effective defense.
A small child, on the other hand, stands a better chance in this type of case, even if it is proven that his or her actions in some way incited the dog. Small children are considered less legally responsible for their behavior. It is possible in this kind of case that the attorney for the dog owner will enjoin the parents of the child into the litigation as additional defendants. In other words, this attorney will sue the parents as the responsible parties for their child’s action and injuries. The two lawsuits are then consolidated so that they are tried before the judge or jury at the same time.
This attorney may claim that the parents failed to properly supervise the child thereby leading to the attack. If, in fact, the parents were negligent in their supervision of the child, it may well be that the child will end up collecting from the parents’ own homeowners’ insurance company. Or, if both the dog owner and the parents were negligent, the two insurance companies would have to share payment of the verdict or award.
If you or someone you know has been injured by a dog bite, be sure to take photographs of the injury as soon as possible. If the scar worsens in appearance after you take the photographs, for example, through infection, take more photographs. It is important to try to get witnesses for this kind of case. If friends or neighbors know of the dog’s history of biting, make sure you get witness statements, since this will help to get the case settled. Do not forget to contact the appropriate health authorities for dog bite injuries to ensure that the victim has not contracted rabies. The dog should be quarantined and tested by these health authorities.
During the litigation of a dog bite case, be sure to get complete veterinary records for the dog. The dog may have exhibited vicious behavior in the past, but the owners may not be willing to admit it unless you have documented proof. You may need to issue a subpoena in order to get these records. The court in which you file will have its own form that you must use. It may also be possible to use a record production service to obtain documents you need to pursue your case. Court procedures for record production vary from state to state and county to county.