Your guide to dog bite lawsuits
Civil and criminal laws surrounding dog bites are comprehensive and cover an exhaustive range of specific situations and circumstances. In North America, virtually every jurisdiction has legal precedents in place which define who is responsible when a dog attacks.
Dog bite lawsuits are almost always initiated by the victim of the attack, who is seeking financial restitution from the owner of the dog. They can also be launched if a hostile dog attacks and wounds or kills a passive dog that did nothing to provoke the aggression. However, there are cases in which dog owners sue alleged victims for harming or killing a dog they claim was attacking them when, in fact, no such incident ever took place.
In many places, owners are required to carry dog bite insurance, particularly if they own a breed of dog known for aggression (such as a pit bull). If a dog bite insurance policy doesn't cover the circumstances or the total damages, then a lawsuit may be necessary to recover full compensation.
Dog Bites: When and How to Initiate Litigation
Specialized personal injury lawyers are your best resource if you, a family member, or a pet has been injured by an aggressive dog. Laws regarding dog bites vary from state to state and province to province, so it's essential that you hire someone thoroughly familiar with local laws.
For example, some jurisdictions hold dog owners responsible if their pet attacks another pet, while others may not. Similarly, in some places, dog owners are strictly liable for the actions of their pet, meaning that they are on the hook for legal responsibility whether or not there has been a similar incident in the past. In other places, the so-called "one free bite" policy applies, meaning that owners can only be considered responsible if they already knew that their pet was predisposed to biting people.
In general, you will not be able to successfully sue for dog bite injuries if you were trespassing on the dog owner's property when the incident occurred. Laws are intended to cover unprovoked, severe attacks that seriously injured or disfigured the victim (whether the victim is a human or another animal).
Depending on the circumstances, dog owners may also be subject to criminal prosecution in cases of dog bites causing severe injury or death. Again, because laws vary significantly from place to place, you are urged to contact a local personal injury lawyer if you, a family member, or a pet have been harmed in an unprovoked dog attack.