Bitten by a Dog? Know Your Legal Options
Everybody knows that dogs are man’s best friend. This holds true up to the moment man is bitten by dog. At that point, friendly relations break down.
At that point, friendly relations break down, and it is time for both sides to lawyer up.
Clearly, a person who has been bitten by a dog has rights in the matter. But so does the dog’s owner. Once you understand their rights, you will better know when yours has been violated.
A Legal Bite
Though not immediately obvious, some dog bites are actually good bites. Police dogs are not there to look cute and do tricks. Some are a part of the crime fighting process. If a fleeing criminal is bitten and subdued by a police dog, that can be considered a good bite.
A police dog’s bite force is much greater than civilian animals of the same breed. Less than 2% of civilian dog bits require hospitalization, while 50% of police dog bites do. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of that equation.
You don’t have to be a hardened criminal to be the recipient of a perfectly legal dog bite. Trespassing, breaking and entering, provoking a dog, or just being careless could get you bitten without legal recourse.
You bear some responsibility. So it is not necessarily a slam-dunk victory if you happen to be bitten by a dog. Depending on the circumstances, you could be the victim of a legal bite.
They say that all politics are local. The same is true for laws. Even if you know your rights under your local statutes, you may not be covered if you happened to be bitten by a dog while in a different state.
A legal bite in one state may not be a legal bite in another. Some states cover injury caused by being menaced by a dog. Where other states only cover injuries from the bite alone.
Even those states only covering bites may differ in their idea of injury. Colorado’s bite only law is limited to serious injuries. Louisiana’s statutes apply to injuries the owner could have prevented.
In Illinois, the injured person must prove they did nothing to provoke the attack such as trespassing. And on it goes…
Whether or not you have a case is largely based on where you are at the time of the bite. Take the time to get to know your local statutes.
Insurance vs. Lawyers
If you were bitten by a dog, you will want to get that looked at by a medical professional as soon as possible. This will cost you the price of an emergency room visit and a few hours off work just for starters.
Who is going to cover those costs? What is the best way for you to insure you are appropriately compensated?
You might be making a big mistake to place your trust in a insurance company. Contrary to what you might expect, an insurance company interest lies in protecting their bottom line. An attorney who specializes in personal injury gets paid by winning the maximum award to which you are entitled. Bottom line: have insurance but call a lawyer.
You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it. Sure, you can grab the nearest keyboard and tell your story to all your social media friends and acquaintances. Just bear in mind that Facebook posts could ruin your personal injury case.
A GIF of you doing a happy dance in the piles of money you expect to win can and will be used against you. You also wouldn’t want a friend to innocently ask, Is it like the time when you baited that Doberman by running through his yard wearing a meat suit?
Your safest course of action is to tell no one. And keep your personal legal matters private. Oversharing on social media is never going to be a good thing for your case. In all such matters, discretion is strongly advised.
While all the states have different laws, one theme unites them. Don’t provoke a dog. Your air-tight case can come crashing down if it can be proved that you provoked a dog, or otherwise behaved irresponsibly.
If you are going to lose a dog bite case, it will probably be at this point. You do not want to win a dog bite case. You want to never be bitten by a dog.
To that end, you will want to avoid the things that might lead to a dog bite. You don’t want to go onto private property to pet a dog or stick your hand through a fence.
If a dog is on a leash and lunging or behaving badly, take the long way around. The best way to avoid a dog bite or win your case in any state is to exercise common sense.
Even If You Are Not Bitten by a Dog…
The thing about dog bite cases is that in many states, you don’t actually have to be bitten by a dog. There are plenty of ways to suffer injury that do not involve teeth.
You can be knocked down by a dog. You might fall or injure yourself running from a dog. A dog may lunge at you and cause you to injure yourself avoiding a bite.
In all these cases (and many more) you have legal recourse. This is another one of those areas where a lawyer can help you much more so than an insurance company.
Look, we all love dogs. Judges, jurors, and attorneys for the prosecution love dogs. What we don’t love are irresponsible dog owners who allow their dogs to bite innocent people.
Parents are responsible for the actions of their dependent children. And dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs. If you have been bitten by a dog, you already have the benefit of the doubt.
It is your case to lose. So be sure not to lose it by boasting on Facebook, trespassing, provoking, or otherwise behaving irresponsibly. You have legal rights. The law is on your side. So see a doctor. Then call an injury attorney if you want to bite back.