You head over to your neighbor’s yard to grab a ball your child threw over their fence. You pay no mind to the “beware of dog” sign before you walk on over. They have a little chihuahua after all. You find out on this day that little dogs pack a lot of attitude when the dog bites you on the leg and causes you to flee. It’s a pretty bad bite. Can you file a lawsuit for the damages? Truth be told, many dog bite lawsuits never see a courtroom. Most of the time, they’re settled between the two individuals. Still, that doesn’t mean that yours won’t.
Keep reading to find out when you should hire a lawyer and take your dog bite case to court.
How Severe is the Bite?
Whether or not you should take your dog bite case to court depends on how bad the bite is. There are six levels of severity ranging between pretty minor to horrible.
Level 1 Bite
Level 1 is the most minor dog bite you’ll encounter. The dog will display aggressive warning behavior first such as growling and barking.
It’s the dog’s way of telling the victim to leave it alone. Not much of a bite occurs during this stage.
Level 2 Bite
A level 2 bite is still pretty minor. These bites will leave a mark on the victim but won’t break the skin and the victim rarely bleeds as a result.
Level 3 Bite
Third level bites will puncture the skin a little bit and leave a mark. The dog may also display aggressive behavior along with it.
It can be hard to get compensation for level 1, 2 and 3 bites but it’s not impossible. As soon as the incident happens, you should call 911.
Even if your wounds aren’t too severe, take pictures of any and all injuries. Reach out to a lawyer to find out if you have a case at all and go ahead and file a report.
Level 4 Bite
Level 4 bites are pretty bad. At times, the victim will suffer from multiple bites. There is often a bit of bruising and the victim may suffer from additional wounds that aren’t related to biting.
Around level 4 is when you may have a serious case on your hands. Reach out to a lawyer if the dog breaks the skin.
Level 5 Bite
Level 5 dog bites are devastating puncture wounds. Sometimes they’re deep enough to cause serious bone fractures or nerve damage.
Level 6 Bite
Level 6 dog bites are the most severe. Nine times out of ten it results in the victim’s death.
Things that Will Affect Your Case
There are a couple more things you should consider before you take the dog bite to court. A lot depends on the breed of the dog and the age of the victim.
On top of these factors, you also have to consider how you approached the dog. Did you provoke it? Was there a sign on the fence that you ignored?
Did You Provoke the Dog?
If the owner can prove you provoked their dog in any way, it’s going to be hard for you to get compensation for it. For example, if they caught you hitting, screaming, or torturing their pet.
What if you didn’t provoke the dog on purpose? The owner may still be relieved of taking accountability depending on what you did to provoke the animal.
What about if the victim is a child? It depends on their age. If they are younger than seven, you as their parent may be able to sue for damages because chances are, a four-year-old didn’t provoke the dog on purpose.
Did You Ignore the “Beware of Dog” Sign?
Going back to our example at the beginning, if there is a beware of dog sign on someone’s fence, it’s there for a reason. If you ignore this sign and get bitten by the dog, the owners won’t be held accountable.
The same goes if you’re a vet and the dog bites you. The risk is all part of the job.
Were You Trespassing?
If you are trespassing on someone’s property and bitten by their dog, most of the time the court will see that as the dog acting defensively. The owner may not be held accountable.
There is a little gray area when it comes to what does and doesn’t count as trespassing.
What if a Dog Bites Your Dog?
If another dog bites your dog, you can receive compensation. Depending on how bad the bite is, you’ll have to pay for the vet bills. If your dog is killed by the other dog, you’ll receive compensation for that as well.
If the owner admits they are responsible for the accident and their homeowner’s liability insurance will be willing to pay for damages, you may not have to take the problem to court.
Your Guide to Dog Bite Lawsuits
Did your neighbor’s dog bite you? Let us help you decide if the case is worth pursuing. Call 904-LAW-1212 immediately.