Were you recently bitten by a dog? If so, you may have needed costly medical attention, possibly missed work, and you could have experienced pain and suffering. You may want to file a lawsuit against the dog's owner to cover your medical bills and other expenses.
Fortunately, it is possible to sue for dog bites in most states. However, it's not guaranteed that you will get all the money that you ask for. If the case goes to court, the judge will have leeway in how much he or she awards in damages. You could get the full amount or you could get nothing at all. Below are a few tips to help you get the damages you seek in your dog bit lawsuit.
Be reasonable in your damages. The first thing to realize in a dog bite lawsuit is that the damages should be proportionate to your injuries and expenses. If you experienced a small bite that was easily treated with a few stitches and you did not miss work, you likely won't get significant compensation for pain and suffering. If you were mauled or attacked and suffered significant bites that required extensive treatment, then you may be able to pursue a larger amount of damages.
Document everything. The court will want proof that you did actually incur these costs and that they were caused by a dog bite. Gather all the documentation you can from third parties. Hospital bills and records are helpful. If you missed work, get statements from your employer supporting that fact. Include a police report if the police were called. You don't want to be in a position where you're asking the court to take your word for it. Use third-party documentation as much as possible.
Collect witness statements. The number one defense in a dog bite lawsuit is that the person who was bit did something to provoke the dog. If there is doubt about your actions leading up to the bite, it could undermine your whole case. Find witnesses who can testify that you did not provoke the dog. If you can find camera footage of the attack, that's even better. Anything that shows you did not provoke the attack will bolster your case.
Reach out to the owner. In many cases, your best hope to get compensated is for the case to not go to court. If you and the owner can reach a settlement before going to trial, you may end up with more money. Anything can happen at a trial. In a settlement, you and the owner retain control over the final outcome. It's possible their insurance may cover the damages. They likely don't want to go to trial either. Be reasonable and professional in your communications and work to find a settlement that compensates you for your time and expenses.
For more information, contact a dog bite lawyer in your area. They can help you determine how best to proceed with your case.