So you have been bit by a dog, you are hurt, what do you do? Well its first a good idea to get medical care as soon as possible. Dog bites can get infected quite easily, and depending on the severity of the bite, can have long lasting effects on physical capabilities. Lets assume the dog bite is more minor, perhaps a bite on the leg that has drew blood and caused significant pain and required medical assistance however it was not life threatening. After taking down the dog owner’s contact information, head to the emergency room. Give the doctors the owner’s information so that they can confirm that the dog is licensed to the owner and has been vaccinated for rabies.
After you get home from the hospital, write everything down that you remember from the incident. Log everything that was done and said and add up your medical expenses from the incident. Be sure to include any medications given to you, emergency room/hospital costs, as well as any work you may have had to miss.
After writing down everything that you can remember, all resulting costs, send an itemized list of those costs to the owner. Make sure to include a deadline for payment. Make the deadline reasonable, especially if it is a good amount of money. Wait for the deadline. If you had not heard from the owner, then you may have to take them to small claims court. Small claims court is generally the right place for cases that have damages not exceeding $10,000. This amount can vary depending on the city or state. Make sure to check your local rules to ensure you are filing in the correct court. If you have any questions, make sure to check with an Attorney.
Strict Liability in a Nutshell
Some states have specific dog bite statutes that enact ‘strict liability’ this means that the person who was bit does not have to prove that the dog owner did anything wrong. The theory behind putting strict liability on dog bites is to hold dog owners responsible for the injury their dog inflicts, period. This places a large amount of responsibility on the pet owner, encouraging them to train their pet so they are not aggressive in public. Some jurisdictions may have the “one bite rule”. This rule states the dog owner is held to strict liability only if the dog had bitten someone in the past, or acted in a way that the owner should have known the dog would have bitten someone.In order to win a case of strict liability against a dog owner, you must prove the following:
1) You were bit by the dog
2) The person you are suing is the dog’s owner
3) You did not provoke the dog
4) You were in a public place where you had a right to be
5) You sustained damages.
As you can see, it is pretty easy to meet all the criteria. It is important to note that in most states, you are not limited to suing just under a specific dog bite statute. You may also sue under a common law (the owner knew the dog was aggressive) or negligence theory (the owner should have known the dog.