What should I do if a dog bit my son? 29 Answers as of June 23, 2011

My son was walking home yesterday and apparently one of the neighbor's dog bit him. The bite is pretty bad and deep. I do not think this dog should be allowed around but the neighbors said that the dog is a guard dog and my son must have started the fight. I do not believe that is right to have any animal attack a teenager. What should I do? Is this an insurance issue or can something more be done?

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Dack Marasigan, LLP
Dack Marasigan, LLP | Martin E. Dack, Esq
You should immediately file a report with animal control. That will document the incident, and let you know if the dog is current on its vaccinations. And accordingly talk to a good personal injury lawyer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/30/2010
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
You did not say whether the injury was significant or just a nuisance. To prove a dog bite case you must prove that the dog has a vicious propensity and has injured others or offered to injure others. Otherwise you do the best you can and report to the animal control folks
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 12/23/2010
Law Office of Matt Potempa, PLLC
Law Office of Matt Potempa, PLLC | Matt Potempa
Talk to a good personal injury lawyer. You should be able to get a free consultation. Whether you have a lawsuit or claim against the homeowners will depend on the circumstances: was your son trespassing, what was the extent of his injuries, what measures the homeowner took to prevent such attacks and, if liability exists, are there any assets to pursue? If the homeowner has no assets or insurance, there may be nothing to pursue.
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 12/20/2010
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
You should immediately file a report with animal control. That will document the incident, and let you know if the dog is current on its vaccinations. You can then contact the owner and ask for him homeowner's insurance information so you can present a claim. If you would like to discuss this further, please let me know.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/20/2010
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
You could sue the family in small claims court and also name their home owners' insurance carrier. You could also report it to the police for investigation. However, it sounds like the neighbor and your son will blame each other. The police may simply issue "peace disturbances" to both, but since your son was actually injured, the police may issue an assault charge to your neighbor. Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 12/20/2010
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    You need an attorney to file lawsuit. Call for an appointment.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Harris Law Firm
    Harris Law Firm | Paul Vames
    Insurance is only one part of the equation. Animal bite cases are complicated and usually require swift action to preserve evidence, identify responsible parties, and obtain medical care for the victim.

    It appears to me that the "neighbor" is attempting to avoid responsibility. I recommend that you discuss this with an attorney. I have handled many animal bite cases and would be happy to consult with you.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Premier Law Group
    Premier Law Group | Jason Epstein
    You should definitely talk to an experienced personal injury attorney and call animal control.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC | Travis Prestwich
    You certainly have a claim. The strength of that claim will depend on the details of what took place, etc. You should contact an attorney to find out what can be done to assist your son.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    The rule in Alabama is that for liability to attach to the owner the dog must have exhibited vicious tendencies prior to the incident. Some breeds are regarded as dangerous but very few. You can call animal control and they will quarantine the dog for disease observation. If you have other questions do not hesitate to contact us
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
    I am sorry to hear of the injury. I hope you have gotten good medical care for the wound. Also, has animal control been contacted? The law on dog bites in Virginia is favorable to the person bitten. I have a section on my website and also on my blog about such cases. You should consult with an experienced injury lawyer to see what can be done. I would not agree with the neighbor's comments that because it is a guard dog, your son is responsible. A review of the facts is necessary to see what happened and who is responsible. Good Luck
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
    It is more than an insurance issue although you should make a claim on the howeowners insurance of the dogs owner.

    If this is a particularly vicious dog there is further steps you must take.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather, LLP
    Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather, LLP | Matthew Shipman
    My suggestion would be that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. In these types of cases, it is important to meet with an attorney at the outset so that you can get things started before the evidence is more difficult to put together. Typically, the first step that we would do is to contact the homeowner and get their homeowner's insurance information. Typically, this type of accident is covered by some form of insurance. Give me a call and I can give you more details over the phone with a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 12/20/2010
    Jahangiri & Associates
    Jahangiri & Associates | Ali Jahangiri
    Call an attorney, sounds nasty.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/23/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    In general you can recover if your son was not teasing tormenting or abusing the dog. You may wish to contact animal control to report the incident. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    The Connelly Firm P.C.
    The Connelly Firm P.C. | Thomas Connelly
    Your son has a claim for personal injury against the dog's owners. It may be covered by your neighbor's homeowners insurance. Any excess liability your neighbor will have to pay if your son wins in court. If your son is a minor he has until age 18 to bring an action in Pennsylvania. If he is an adult, he has 2 years. In any event he should seek medical attention immediately, if anything for documentation purposes. Please contact me for further information, and good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 12/18/2010
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    There used to be an adage that a dog gets one free bite. That is not the law anymore. The owner of the dog is responsible for the actions of its animal and would be liable for your sons injury. Now if your son provoked the dog in a manner that a reasonable person might expect an attack, then that will severely impact against his claim. If your son is under 18, a guardian ad litem gets appointed to file a lawsuit. This is usually a parent and is not a big deal just an additional document to file. You can also try to settle with the dog owner without filing suit. If they have homeowners insurance, their med-pay provision will likely pay for your sons medical care regardless of who is at fault for the attack. While you can try to handle this on your own, you should get a lawyer to look at the facts, the seriousness of the injuries to ascertain what kind of recovery could be had by making a claim against the dog owner and perhaps their insurance company, and to negotiate on your behalf. Sometimes dog bites require scar revision surgery from a plastic surgeon. I am handling one now where the woman was bit on the leg and the scar revision surgery will cost $4,500. The dog owner wants to settle the claim on his own without reporting it to his insurance carrier because he is afraid that (a) his rates will go up and (b) in order to renew his policy he is afraid the carrier will require him to get rid of his dog. If you decide to handle on your own versus getting a lawyer, 9 times out of 10 the lay person will not get as much as the attorney would get. But then you have to weigh the benefit of paying the attorney 1/3 or 40% of the recovery and whether you would net out more with or without the attorney. Its somewhat of a guessing game, but the lawyer will certainly know the ins and outs of how to deal with the kind of case and can help put the case in the best position for maximum recovery. If you use your own health insurance to take care of the injury, the carrier has a right of reimbursement from the dog owner. So if you make a claim and/or sue, what ever you get the health insurance carrier gets reimbursed, but they have to share in the attorneys fees. Thus, the amount the carrier pays for medical expenses usually gets reduced by the percentage of the attorneys fees and costs in the case. So for example, if the carrier paid $5,000 in medical expenses and the attorneys fees and costs came out to 40% of the total settlement, the $5,000 gets reduced by 40% to $3,000. If the dog owners insurance pays for the medical expenses, they have no right of reimbursement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    If the injury required medical attention, call an attorney. If not, just report the neighbor to local authorities.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    There is a potential case here. Homeowners insurance should cover the incident. Call our office for consultation as we handle dog bite cases.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Sue the neighbor + their insurance may cover the costs. You can also report it to the police + they may issue an aggressive dog ticket.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Suisman Shapiro
    Suisman Shapiro | John A. Collins
    Unless your son was tormenting or teasing the dog the owner is responsible for your son's injuries. If you choose to do so you can also call your local dog warden and they will check to see if the dog should be quarantined. Please respond further if we can help.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Tomalas Law Firm
    Tomalas Law Firm | Ryan Tomalas
    In California dog owners are held Strictly Liable for the injuries caused by their dogs. So essentially, unless your son was trespassing on their property, the owner of the dog is responsible for the injuries your son suffered. Dog bite cases can be quite complex, especially in light of the emotional aspect of dog bites and the potential for long term/permanent scaring (especially in children). We have handled hundreds of dog bite cases and are extremely experienced in this area of the law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates | Cary J. Wintroub
    Your son has a right to make a claim for his dog bite injuries. Dog bite cases are strict liability cases under Illinois law. There are many considerations with dog bite matters. Ultimately you have to be concerned with scaring. Please contact me without obligation to discuss his matter.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Magnuson Lowell P.S.
    Magnuson Lowell P.S. | Richard S. Lowell
    First; obviously make sure your son gets appropriate medical care. Second; call your local animal control office and file a complaint. Third; document your son's injury with photographs.
    Fourth; assuming the dog was loose and running around off the neighbor's property - you definitely have a claim. Contact a personal injury attorney - such as me - to discuss your sons claim. The consultation with a personal injury attorney is always free of charge.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/17/2010
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    Hire a personal injury attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/17/2010
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