Bitten By Your Neighbor's Dog? What Can You Do?

Law Blog

A dog bite can cause serious injury and lead to medical bills. When you are bitten by a neighbor's dog, you have a number of issues to face, including whether or not you should sue the owner. Before taking legal action, here is what you need to know about dog bite cases. 

Should You Sue?

Obviously, your first move should be to work with your neighbor to reach a resolution regarding who is responsible for paying your medical bills and any other related injuries. However, it is possible that your neighbor does not agree that he or she should be responsible and might balk at the idea of paying for your injuries. If that occurs, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit against your neighbor.

Whether or not you should actually follow through with a lawsuit is a different matter though. If your medical bills were mostly covered by your insurance company, you might be hesitant to sue since you still have to live in the neighborhood with the dog's owner. Even if this is true, filing a lawsuit could be the best course of action. The possibility of being sued for injuries caused by the dog might convince the owner to take extra precautions to prevent dog bites. 

What Are the Requirements to File a Lawsuit?

Whether or not you are successful in your lawsuit depends largely on the factors of your case. In some states, you have to prove that the owner's negligence led to your injuries. This could be particularly difficult if the owner did everything possible to keep the dog from biting others, such as keeping the dog in a fenced backyard and putting up warning signs about the dog. 

Some states also take into account whether or not the victim did something that caused the dog to bite him or her. For instance, if you were throwing sticks at the dog before it bit you, the court could side with your neighborhood and cite your provocation of the dog as the reason. 

If the dog bite occurred on your neighbor's property, another factor could be whether or not you were legally there. In states such as Alabama, you have to have permission to be on the property when the bite occurs. For instance, if you jumped your neighbor's fence to retrieve a ball without his or her permission, the neighbor could argue that you did not have the legal right to be on the property. 

Since laws pertaining to dog bites vary by state, it is important to talk to a personal injury lawyer like one from Swartz & Swartz P.C. as soon as you are injured to fully explore your legal options.


1 July 2015