Choosing the Right Lawyer After a Dog Bite or Animal Attack

A dog bite can be a painful and terrifying experience. Many animal attacks cause serious injuries, including permanent disabilities, scarring or disfigurement, along with long-term or lifelong psychological injury. Tragically, these injuries, and even the risk of death, are greatly magnified when a child is the victim. Unlike auto accidents, a slip and fall, or a defective product injury, however, the law surrounding dog bites can be quite complicated and confusing, making it difficult for a non-lawyer to recover compensation for the resulting injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, can help you find a lawyer who knows the law and how to prepare and present a persuasive case to get you the compensation you deserve.

Dog Bite Laws Vary from State to State

Some states follow a basic negligence standard, holding dog owners liable when their negligent behavior allows their dog to bite to another. Other states have adopted a strict liability standard, holding owners liable any time their pet bites another person, without any consideration of negligence and regardless of whether the owner was exercising care in keeping or handling the animal at the time or not. Still another popular approach only holds owners liable if they previously knew that their animal had a dangerous or vicious propensity to bite or attack. This doctrine is often called the "one free bite" rule, because an owner may not be liable the first time their animal attacks a person, but after that incident they are on notice and responsible for future attacks.

Of course, many states take another approach, incorporating elements of all three different theories of liability. In New York, for instance, animal owners are strictly liable for medical costs when their animal attacks a person, but they are liable for other legal damages only if they knew or should have known of the animal's dangerous propensities. In California, dog owners are liable if the attack took place in a public place or on the owner's private property, if the victim was lawfully on the property at the time. In Georgia, a dog owner can be liable for injury caused by careless management or allowing the animal to go at liberty if either the animal was vicious or dangerous, or if the person violated an ordinance requiring the animal to be kept at heel or on a leash. (e.g. Georgia leash law.)

The Right Animal Attack Attorney Can Help

Dog bites can cause serious injuries, including compound fractures, facial lacerations and puncture wounds, internal injuries, nerve damage, scarring and disfigurement, rabies, and emotional trauma. Victims sometimes come away from a vicious animal attack with permanent physical disabilities as well as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a lifelong fear of dogs or open places. Death from an animal attack is a very real possibility as well, especially when the victim is a small child.

Proving the extent of damages is not the only hurdle an injury victim must face. Pet owners have several defenses to liability, including claiming that the victim provoked the animal or otherwise assumed the risk of being bitten, or caused or contributed to the incident. Also, dog bite victims may be reluctant to bring legal action against the owner, either because they do not know the law or are a friend, neighbor or family member of the owner who does not want the owner, or the dog, to get in trouble. However, in many cases, insurance is available to cover the costs of some or all of the medical treatment and other financial injuries caused by the attack. And this is exactly what insurance is designed to do.

Dog bites and animal attacks account for over 1,000 visits to the emergency room every day, and dozens of people die each year from dog bites. By pursuing action against the owner of a dangerous animal, you not only secure much-needed compensation for yourself and your family, but you make the community safer and prevent others from being attacked.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a dog bite or other animal attack, contact to be provided with a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney who can provide caring and effective advice and representation.

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