Dog bites are terrifying injuries. If you’ve never seen what a dog bite can do, it might not sound like such a big deal. But dog bites can cause massive loss of blood, require reconstructive surgery to heal, or even lead to very serious and very deadly infections.
When someone suffers a serious dog bite, there is a lot of time and money required to ensure proper care and healing. But since it is an animal that attacked them, it would be ridiculous to expect the dog to pay compensation. But is the owner of the dog at fault for the injury? The answer to that question is a little more complicated than a simple yes and no. Let’s see why.
Can Any Dog Bite Be Used for a Case in Metairie?
Not every dog bite is serious enough to file a lawsuit for. If you’re hanging at the park and a dog gently nibbles at you, it might be uncomfortable or even a little painful but chances are that it won’t be enough to give you grounds to sue. The main factor which we look for when determining if a dog bite case is worth taking to court is whether or not you suffered damages from the bite.
These damages don’t just mean that you were physically harmed, though they do cover physical harm as well. By damages what we mean is that you suffered from economic losses, which could be in the form of medical bills for the treatment or repair bills if the bite damages personal property, or non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering or mental trauma like PTSD.
It is much harder to prove non-economic damages than it is economic ones. This doesn’t mean that your dog bite case isn’t worth pursuing but rather that it will require more work and a great attorney to win.
A dog bite case can be handled in either small claims court or the Louisiana civil court. If you’re seeking damages of $5,000 or less then small claims court will prove to be an easier experience overall but it sets a limit on how much you could receive. Civil cases require a greater work and time investment but allow for larger settlements.
How Does Fault Work in a Dog Bite Case?
In most cases, it is the owner of the dog that will be at fault. However, this doesn’t mean that it is always the case or that you don’t have to work to prove that they are at fault. There are definitely dog bite victims who were the ones at fault for the experience.
An obvious example of this would be when the bite victim provoked the animal. If you were out walking your dog and a stranger came up and kicked the animal, you wouldn’t be the one to blame for the subsequent bite. Very clearly, the stranger was the one that provoked the dog.
Similarly, if you’re trespassing on somebody else’s property and their dog bites you then chances are it’s going to be seen as your fault. However, this doesn’t mean that it is always your fault if you’re bit while on somebody else’s property. If your dog is able to maul the mailman when he brings you a package then you’ve failed to prevent your dog from causing foreseeable damage.
When it comes to arguing who is at fault, if you were bitten by a dog then you have to show the court:
- That the owner of the dog owed you a duty of care to keep their animal under control.
- That the owner breached their duty of care in some manner, such as by not abiding by leash laws in a public place.
- That you suffered injuries or damages because the dog owner breached their duty.
With this, you can see why the above examples would leave you to blame rather than the dog owner. The owner doesn’t owe you a duty of care when you provoke their animal or when you trespass on private property. But in most dog bite cases, it’s fairly easy to show that there was a duty of care that was breached, and thereby the owner of the dog is most often the party at fault.
What is the One Bite Rule and What is the Statute of Limitations on a Dog Bite
In Louisiana, we use what is called the One Bite Rule. In circumstances where there was not a breach of duty on behalf of the owner, the One Bite Rule may be used to win the case against them. This rule states that if a dog has bitten somebody in the past then the owner has a greater responsibility to keep the public safe from the dog.
You only have a year from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog that bit you. Rather than waste time trying to find out relevant facts on your own, it’s a good idea to reach out to an attorney quickly so as not to run out of time. After a year, it’s nearly impossible to get a court to listen to your case.
I Was Bitten By a Dog, What Should I Do Next?
If you’ve been bitten by a dog then the first thing you absolutely have to do is go and seek medical treatment. Dog bites aren’t just deadly for the physical damage they do with their teeth but also for the high risk of infection that comes with them. If you wait, you could risk losing a limb. But seeking medical treatment will also give you tangible damages which you can show the court and it’ll help give your case some grounding.
From there, the best thing you can do is reach out to the Law Office of Glenn C. McGovern by calling (504) 273-6011 for a free consultation. From speaking with an attorney, you’ll get a sense of what steps can be taken in your case and what information you’ll need to show the courts that you were the victim. We want to help you get the compensation you deserve, so give us a call today.