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Things to Know About Before Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit

Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S. You might not be surprised to hear that most of the victims are kids -- many of whom ignore telltale signs of impending danger.

While not all dog bites are serious, some require emergency room visits. There’s also the risk of contracting diseases, so a dog bite isn’t something to ignore. It’s not just the potential physical harm, either. It’s not uncommon for people bitten by dogs to experience mental trauma.

Any dog is capable of being a perpetrator. Some erroneously believe that only large dog breeds bite people. But the reality is that dogs of all sizes can react with their teeth. Some of the most bite-happy dogs are the smaller breeds that look cute and cuddly but are aggressive, scrappy, and always looking to mix it up with all comers. So, don’t let the size of a dog fool you. Under the right -- or wrong -- circumstances, any dog can bite anyone.

Here are three things to consider if circumstances have you contemplating a dog bite lawsuit.

1. Ensure You Didn’t Provoke the Dog Bite

While a dog bite can be physically and emotionally traumatic, you may be unable to file a dog bite lawsuit. A dog owner might not be found liable to pay your claims if you provoked the dog in question. If you behaved in a way the dog found threatening and the dog responded by biting you, that might foil your attempts to get compensation. Ensure you didn’t contribute to the issue.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so avoid doing anything that might upset a dog. If you don’t know a dog, don’t assume it’ll be receptive to physical contact. 

Another issue that might derail your dog bite lawsuit is if you get bitten while trespassing on private property. You have no right to be on another’s property without the owner’s consent. So, you can avoid potential issues if you avoid areas where you have no right to be.

2. You May Need to Prove Liability

Depending on the state where the incident occurred, you may or may not have to prove liability. In some states, a dog owner is responsible, with no exceptions, if their dog bites someone. In other states, liability will depend on whether the dog owner had reason to believe their pet posed a biting risk. So, if their dog had bitten someone previously, the dog owner will likely be found liable if it goes on to bite someone else. Your best bet is to consult with a personal injury lawyer specializing in dog bite lawsuits to learn whether you have a solid case after a dog bite.

3. Only Some Dog Bites Qualify for Legal Action

While no one wants to be bitten by a dog, being a victim doesn't necessarily mean you can launch a lawsuit. That's one reason it's vital to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can gather the facts, examine the evidence, and give you a professional opinion about whether you have a valid case. If a dog bite leaves you with a little puncture, you might be unable to launch a dog bite lawsuit. That’s especially true if the wound is easy to treat.

Dog bites aren’t pleasant, and no one on the receiving end of a dog’s teeth will describe the experience as pleasant. But whether or not you have grounds for a dog bite lawsuit depends on various factors. If you’re attacked, a personal injury lawyer can help you pursue the dog’s owner in a dog bite lawsuit.

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