A Quick Guide to Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit


Bog bites and attacks are a widespread occurrence in the U.S and may result in life-altering emotional trauma and physical injury for the victims. In addition, the impact of dog attacks includes financial costs such as lost wages and medical expenses and other non-financial costs such as the pain and suffering resulting from the victim’s diminished quality of life.

Filing a dog bite lawsuit will help you recover these costs from the dog owner’s insurance company. However, the lawsuit may take a while to settle, and several factors may impact the results of your lawsuit. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to file a dog bite lawsuit:

What Is Animal Bite Law?

Animal bite law only covers a specific type of personal injury. These injuries involve animals hurting and biting people. Most animal attacks and bite cases involve dogs but could also include escaped zoo animals and snakes.

Animal bite lawsuit procedures are different from other personal injury cases. These cases often focus on whether the animal owner knew about the danger their animal poses to humans.

Certain animal breeds could be dangerous to humans. An animal bite case could also involve the owner’s duty of care. This means that the owner should have prevented the animal from escaping and causing injury to a human.

What to Do After a Dog Bite Incident?

Were you injured in a dog attack? The first step is to ensure that you seek immediate medical attention to ensure your health and safety. If you are conscious after the attack, ensure you document as much evidence as possible.

However, if you are in a position where you can’t move, call 911 immediately for the paramedics to assist you. If you don’t go to an ER, ensure you seek medical attention from your primary healthcare professional or visit an urgent care center.

Some dog attack injuries may require you to get stitches, which means you need medical attention from a qualified professional. Additionally, an animal attack could lead to severe infections and diseases if they go untreated.

Take the below steps to take after a dog bite attack:

  • File a report to the police or your local animal control department
  • Ask for the phone number and contact information of the dog’s owner
  • Collect as much evidence as you can to support your claim
  • Collect witness contact information to back your claim
  • Document all your expenses resulting from the attack

After a dog attack, the steps you take are essential for the outcome of your case. Filing a report with the police will ensure that the dog is tested for diseases such as rabies and it’s removed from the location for further observation.

The Damages You Can Claim from a Dog Bite Lawsuit

The court evaluates dog bite lawsuits the same way they do other personal injury cases such as car crashes. The claims are valued based on the non-economic and economic damages caused by the injury. Thus, the dog owner or their insurance should compensate the victims for injuries.

Below are some of the damages you can claim after a dog bite injury:

1Medical Bills

Compensation for medical bills includes all the incurred medical expenses following the attack. The expenses include emergency room treatment, ambulance bills, and the cost of medical care that the victim may require in the future. Future expenses may include reconstructive surgery to repair any scarring or physical therapy expenses resulting from the accident.

2Lost Wages

If a dog attacks you, and as a result of the injuries, you cannot perform your duties at work, you can claim lost wages as part of your compensation. A dog attack may leave you blind, permanently disfigured, or unable to move your hands or legs.

Thus, you may no longer be helpful to the company that initially employed you. If your job was operating a forklift, you might no longer be able to do this while you are blind.

3Pain and Suffering

Some states let you seek damages and compensation for past and future pain and suffering caused by a personal injury accident. You can claim this as non-economic compensation.


Sadly, most animal bites and dog attack cases end up in significant scarring due to nerve damage and puncture wounds to the hands, face, and arms. Even if you go for reconstructive surgery, most of these injuries are permanent. Some states, such as Illinois, allow victims to recover from disfigurement in such scenarios.


While disability is a less common result of an animal attack, it could happen. Some people are left permanently disabled from infections, long-term pain, and nerve damage. A dog bite could affect the body part where the bite occurs, leading to permanent loss of movement and feeling in the body.

Depending on where the bite was, the victim could suffer a severe disability, preventing them from attending to their duties at work. If your injuries keep you from going back to work, you could claim for disability.

6Emotional Distress

Understandably, a dog bite or an attack could cause emotional and psychological trauma to both children and adults. In such a case, the law permits you to claim compensation and damages for the emotional trauma.

What You Need to Know About Your Dog Bite Lawsuit

The first step in analyzing your dog bite case is understanding the laws that surround it. States often take two approaches to their dog bite laws. These include strict liability and negligence.

With the negligence approach, the victim must prove that the dog’s owner did not take reasonable measures to ensure that their dog didn’t attack the victim. However, with the strict liability claim, the plaintiff only needs to prove that they were attacked by another person’s dog, without any exceptional circumstances.

To get a dog bite settlement, below are some essential things you must prove as a victim:

  • You should prove that the dog attacked you unprovoked
  • You must show that you were not trespassing when the dog attacked you
  • You must show that the dog attacked or at least tried to attack you

Today, some states have adopted the one-bite rule. This rule means that the owner of the dog isn’t responsible for the dog’s first attack. This means that the owner was not aware that their dog was dangerous to humans.

However, some states don’t follow this rule. Thus, if a dog attacks you without trespassing or provoking it, the dog’s owner will be held liable. Some states also recognize dog attacks that don’t result in a bite. For example, if a dog attacks you, knocking you down, you can file a lawsuit as if the animal had bitten you.

Common Dog Breeds Considered to Be Aggressive

Some insurance companies will ask about your dog breed before issuing you a homeowner’s insurance coverage. That’s because some dog breeds are not covered as they are considered aggressive. These breeds include Rottweiler and American Pit Bull.

In a home with an incident of a dog attack in the past, the insurance company may increase the homeowner’s premiums. The insurer may also ask the homeowner to restrain their dogs to prevent any incidents of an attack.

How Long Will, Your Dog Bite Lawsuit, Take to Be Resolved?

Most dog bite cases, just like other personal injury lawsuits, are resolved through a settlement agreement. However, a small number of them often end up in trial. The trial process of a dog bite case may take months and even years to resolve.

After the court gives the verdict, the losing party has one month or 30 days to appeal. The appeal process is also expensive and will delay the conclusion of the case and the compensation. The good news is that most people prefer not to appeal the court’s verdict.

The insurance company may pay you immediately after the final verdict. However, you may also pursue collection on the judgment if you don’t receive compensation. But the collection actions are often unnecessary as most insurance companies almost always pay the compensation immediately after the verdict.

How Can a Personal Attorney Help You in Case of a Dog Bite Incident?

After a dog bite incident, ensure you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney will ensure that your rights are respected, and you get fair compensation based on the injuries and other financial losses you incurred. After a dog bite incident, the insurance company may try to pay you as little as possible.

In many instances, the insurance company will also drag out the process to frustrate you into quitting. Thus, it’s essential to have a reputable dog bite lawyer by your side. Additionally, the insurance company may also offer you a quick settlement that’s far below what you deserve to protect their business’s bottom line.

A reputable personal injury attorney will be familiar with all the tactics of these companies. Thus, they will fight on your behalf to get fair compensation as fast as possible to avoid dragging on the case.

Now You Know How to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit

If a dog attacks and injures you, ensure you contact a reputable personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will guide you through your dog bite lawsuit and ensure that you get fair compensation. They will also ensure that the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of your situation.

Did you like this article? Check out other posts on our website for more informative tips.


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