Determining if you can sue a dog owner is a complex issue that often requires the help of a personal injury attorney. These claims can be especially challenging when you’re bitten at the dog owner’s home or property. Whether you’re an invited guest or are considered trespassing on someone’s property, the dog owner may be held liable for the injuries you sustain.
Duty of Care
Dog owners have a duty of care to anyone who enters their home or yard. This means as a visitor at their home, you have the right to expect you are not going to be hurt. If their dog is not secured or has a history of biting people, it is their responsibility as the homeowner to meet that expectation of care. If not, s/he could be found negligent.
For someone who’s not a guest, such as a mail carrier delivering mail, the homeowner must take care to secure their dog. If the dog bites the mail carrier during their normal course of work, the dog owner can be held liable for any injuries. While homeowner's insurance is often the first defense, the owner may also be held personally liable for the injuries if they are severe.
A dog that has a history of biting people, especially if the owners haven't done anything to deal with the situation, could be helpful to your case. However, this does not mean the case will be an easy win. Other issues, such as whether the owners have done training with their dog or have kept it contained in an area inaccessible to guests, can help your case and help better assess the compensation you may be due.
After the Bite
If you are bitten by a dog on someone’s property, it's important to:
- Take pictures of any injuries.
- Get medical care for any injuries.
- Write down an account of what happened.
- File a report with the police.
- Contact an experienced dog bite attorney.
If you have been injured due to a dog bite - even if the dog is owned by a friend or a family member - seeking the advice of a personal injury attorney can help you understand the next steps that may be needed in your particular circumstances.