Animal Bites Law
A dog bite may cause significant injuries that might take weeks, months or even years to heal. Victims may be unable to work or otherwise live a reasonable quality of life after an attack. Talking with an attorney could make it easier for a victim to learn more about his or her rights. Legal counsel may also work to refute defenses to a dog bite claim that other parties might bring up.
Those who have been hurt by a dog may have a couple of options to seek compensation and other relief from the animal's owner. If a victim has insurance, it might be possible to make a claim under their medical insurance policy. However, it may still be possible to file a claim against the owner of the dog for additional compensation regardless of whether a victim has medical coverage or not.
In many cases, it could be necessary to see a doctor or otherwise get medical treatment for a dog bite. Small bites may need to be treated by a medical professional because of the risk for infection. A dog bite attorney can help a bite victim work with his or her insurance company to coordinate payment for services rendered by a medical professional.
A lawsuit against the dog's owner might allow an individual to collect compensation for lost wages or other damages. In New York, a person has three years to file a lawsuit in a personal injury case. In Texas, a person has two years to file a lawsuit in a personal injury case. An attorney may take steps to take legal action as soon as he or she is hired to preserve a victim's rights.
In Florida, an owner is generally not liable for a dog bite if there was a sign or some other warning indicating the presence of the animal. However, this does not apply if the victim is under the age of 6. By working with an attorney, it may be easier to obtain a favorable outcome or at least allow it to get in front of a jury without being dismissed on a technicality.
The one bite rule says that a dog's owner is not liable for damages if there was no reason to believe that the dog was vicious in the past. Those who are bitten in states such as Texas or Virginia may have to contend with this type of law.
The vast majority of states in America use a strict liability system when it comes to dog bites. However, states like Georgia may use a modified liability standard that turns into a strict standard in certain cases. In California, a police or military dog might be exempt from strict liability if it was defending itself.
In states that don't have a one bite rule, an owner may be negligent in allowing a dog regardless of its prior history. An attorney might be able to collect physical evidence, witness statements or video evidence to help bolster a case. This evidence may be introduced either during settlement talks or during a formal trial.
There may be many defenses that a dog owner may use to reduce or eliminate his or her liability in a dog bite case. For example, it could be possible to argue that the dog owner did not have a duty to protect the victim. One way to refute that may be to argue that the victim was an invited guest on that person's property.
It might also be possible for a dog owner to maintain that the animal was properly secured. An attorney may review the appropriate statutes in the case and show evidence that they were not followed. For example, a dog could be allowed to roam free on its own property. However, if the dog left its yard to attack someone, an attorney may argue that its owner is liable.
As a general rule, dog owners should alert others that an animal is on their property. In some cases, signs may need to include specific words to qualify as a valid warning. If those words aren't used, an attorney might be able to use that as a rebuttal to a defense raised by the dog owner that the victim was warned.
Individuals who are hurt by a dog may be best served by having legal counsel help pursue their claim. Doing so can help a victim gather evidence as well as help him or her understand what the law says relating to dog owner liability. This could increase the odds that those who are hurt by potentially vicious dogs get the compensation to which they are entitled under state law.