What Should I Do If My Neighbor's Dog Attacks Me?

What Should I Do If My Neighbor's Dog Attacks Me?

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What Should I Do If My Neighbor's Dog Attacks Me?

Whether you love dogs or would rather avoid them altogether, getting attacked by a dog is a harrowing experience that can leave you injured and traumatized. Dog attacks can leave victims with painful injuries like bite wounds, infections, broken bones, lacerations, and permanent disfigurement. Some dog attacks are so vicious the victim may even die. This kind of situation is even more tortuous when the dog that attacked you is owned by a neighbor. Seeking compensation for your injuries can be awkward and leaves you feeling anxiety about the future.

If you're asking the question, "What do I do if my neighbor's dog attacks me," you're likely already considering taking legal action, which you should. At Morgan & Morgan, our dog attack lawyers have the skills, resources, and experience to win you the compensation you deserve for being attacked by a dog. We can explain your legal rights and come up with a game plan to pursue a claim against your neighbor's homeowner's insurance. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, lost income, and any other damages resulting from the dog attack. 

What to do immediately after a dog attack

Getting attacked by a dog is a scary experience, but now is the time to take steps to preserve evidence and seek medical attention for your injuries. Here are some guidelines on what to do immediately after a dog attack.

Collect evidence of the attack: If possible, take a picture of the dog, the scene of the attack, and your injuries. Save any torn or bloody clothing as evidence. Take the contact information of any witnesses for our attorneys to follow up with later. 

Get medical treatment: Dog bites are a serious matter since they often lead to an infection. Dog bites that pierce the skin allow bacteria to get in, which can lead to tetanus, sepsis, and rabies. Infection occurs in 10 to 15% of dog bites, so it's critical to get the proper treatment. Keep all medical records and documentation associated with the attack, as this will help determine the kind of compensation you can receive. 

Identify the dog's owner: Dog owners have a responsibility to contain and control their dogs. Whether you're friendly with the owner or have never met them, you need to get the dog's vaccine records and the owner's contact information. However, it would be best if you did not discuss the attack with the owner. You may say some things inadvertently that could hurt your claim.

Contact animal control: Generally speaking, any dog attack should be reported to your local animal control, whether or not you were severely injured. Dog attacks are a serious community threat, and the owner may be cited. If the dog has attacked people multiple times, there should be a record.

Contact our expert dog attack lawyers: Filing a claim for a dog attack can be time-consuming and complex. Your neighbor's insurance company will try everything in its effort to minimize a payment or deny your claim outright. It's essential to have a skilled lawyer on your side to protect your rights and make sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Our attorneys are well versed in the tactics insurance companies use to protect their bottom line while denying you the compensation you deserve.

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  • What kind of compensation can I get for a dog attack?

    Compensation for a dog attack ultimately depends on the severity of your injuries and the impact the attack has on your life. Some common damages you can expect our dog attack lawyers will pursue are as follows.

    Medical costs: You should be compensated for all medical expenses associated with the attack, including doctor's appointments, emergency room visits, medications, the cost of surgeries, any rehabilitation costs, and possible future medical care needed.

    Lost income: If you have to take time off from work due to your injuries, the wages you lost should be recovered. Lost income also includes any loss of vacation or sick time, loss of bonuses, or other work-related opportunities. Suppose your injuries are severe and you can no longer do the kind of work you used to and have to take a lower-paying position. In that case, this can also be calculated into lost income damages.

    Non-economic losses: Dog attacks can cause victims to develop issues like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. While these are not "expenses," you should still have compensation for your pain and suffering. If your injuries make it so you cannot do things you once enjoyed, this loss is also compensable. 

  • What are common laws about dog attacks?

    State law ultimately dictates dog attack liability. Some state laws offer some leniency if the dog owner had no knowledge of the dog's propensity to attack. But many states have laws that make an owner liable regardless of their prior knowledge. This is known as strict liability law. Even so, if the dog's owner can prove the dog attacked because of provocation, you may lose your ability to make a claim.

    Liability can be based on a common law theory of negligence by the owner, where compensation is measured on the action or inaction of the dog's owner. Negligence is established when it can be proven that the owner had a legal duty of care owed to the victim but failed in that duty of care. The duty could be to restrain properly, contain, or only allow fit people to be in charge of the dog. If local ordinances are violated, such as not allowing dogs to run at large, for example, this could also establish negligence. If someone keeps a known vicious dog and fails to keep the animal secure, this too would be negligence.

    Knowledge of a dangerous dog can include:

    • Previous bites
    • Barking at strangers
    • Threatening people
    • Jumping on people
    • Chasing people
    • Fighting with other dogs
    • Complaints about the dog's behavior
    • Using "Beware of the Dog" signs
  • What dog breeds are most likely to attack people?

    Any dog can bite or attack, and a lot of aggressive behavior depends on how the dog is raised. However, some breeds are more likely to bite than others. In fact, many of the breeds are excluded from being covered under a homeowners insurance policy. Here are the breeds that are statistically known to be aggressive:

    • Pitbulls
    • Rottweilers
    • Pitbull mixes
    • German Shepherds
    • Bullmastiffs
    • Wolf hybrids
    • Huskies
    • Akitas
    • Boxers
    • Chows
    • German Shepherd mixes
    • Dobermans
    • Staffordshire Terriers
    • Alaskan Malamutes
    • Great Danes
    • Presa Canarios
  • What are some defenses a dog owner can use if their dog attacks me?

    Based on your actions, a dog owner could avoid legal responsibility if they can argue you're at fault for the attack. This isn't true in all states, but some states allow the following defenses.

    The dog was provoked: Hitting or teasing a dog is almost certainly provoking the dog, and you would likely lose if you had been doing this at the time of the attack. However, even accidentally provoking the dog could hurt your claim, such as stepping on their tail by accident, intervening in a dog fight, or petting a dog while they're eating. Young children and strange dogs are a recipe for disaster as they don't understand how dogs may react to getting their tails pulled or hair yanked on.

    Did you know of the risk? If you entered a yard with a "Beware of the Dog" sign, some dog owners could argue you knew of the risk but took it anyway. Another example could be working at a job where animals are cared for, such as a dog groomer, dog walker, or veterinarian. This could be used to argue liability.

    Were you trespassing? You could be out of luck if you were trespassing or not lawfully on private property. Even if you stuck your hand through a fence to pet a seemingly friendly dog, if the dog then bites, you may have been trespassing. It all depends on state laws. One exception is in the case of children. Dog owners have the legal responsibility to make sure children can't enter their property and their dogs cannot escape the property.

    Were you breaking the law? Dog bite statutes don't apply if you were breaking the law when the attack happened in a few states.

    Were you being careless? Some states use a comparative negligence rule that dictates how much liability either party has. For example, suppose you see your neighbor walking their dog and go up to them, but your neighbor warns you not to pet the dog, but you do anyhow, and the dog bites. In this case,  you would share some of the blame. Some states don't allow for any compensation to victims that contributed to their own injury. 

  • Contact a dog bite lawyer

    If you're wondering, "what do I do if my neighbor's dog attacks me," you're probably wondering how to move forward. The laws concerning dog bites are complicated with many subtle nuances from state to state, so it's not easy to navigate on your own. We understand and are ready to help. Our dog attack lawyers have had great success in winning compensation for victims of dog attacks. Whether through negotiations with the dog owner's insurance company or in the courtroom, we're ready to protect your legal rights and help recover money for your damages. 

    We can launch an immediate investigation and have expertise in local statutes enacted to protect victims of negligent dog owners. Don't tackle this on your own. It's very easy for insurance companies to manipulate you into believing they're offering their best offer. Usually, the first offer is never the best offer. We have the negotiation skills to work with the insurance company to get you a fair and favorable settlement and the courtroom skills to win over a jury. 

    We've had the pleasure of recovering billions for our clients over the lifetime of our law firm. This gives us immeasurable pride knowing that we've made a tremendous difference in the lives of tens of thousands of personal injury victims and their families. Please give us an opportunity to do the same for you by contacting us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation. If we can't win compensation for you, there is no fee for our services. 

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