When it comes to personal injury, few people consider themselves vulnerable to dog bites. However, this type of incident is more common than you might think. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 800,000 people in America visit emergency rooms and other health care centers annually to seek treatment for a dog bite. If you experienced a dog attack and are seeking compensation, there are a few questions you can ask a personal injury lawyer before you proceed.
- What Are the Animal Control Laws in My City?
You can strengthen your dog bite case by learning which animal control laws may have been violated during the dog attack. For example, if there is a leash law in effect in your area and dogs are not allowed to wander freely, this could work in your favor if you were bitten by an animal that escaped its home or was allowed to roam. Some towns and cities only allow owners a certain number of pets, and if you were bitten by a dog whose owner has exceeded that number, you may be compensated as a result.
- What If the Dog Owner Refuses Responsibility?
Not all dog owners are responsible and may try to shift the blame to others or claim it was not their dog. This can be frustrating, especially if there were no witnesses to the attack. If you know for certain who the owner of the dog is, such as your next-door neighbor, you can try to reason with him or her before announcing your intent to pursue a lawsuit. If the owner continues to deny responsibility, your lawyer can begin proceedings to serve a lawsuit.
- How Do I Document My Injuries?
Once you are bitten and need medical attention, document the bite with photos and ask the attending physician for a written report you can present to your lawyer. Try to photograph the wounds before they are doctored and as they heal so you have solid evidence when your case goes to court. Keep your photos and medical bills all in one place so you do not have to search for documents later on. It is a good idea to keep an expanding folder with labels so you can organize pictures, doctors’ notes and other items pertaining to your case.
As your case progresses, you may need to leave photos and letters with your lawyer. As such, it will likely save time to have extra copies of each on hand at all times.
- Can I Seek Compensation for Pain and Suffering?
Most dog attacks cause more than physical injury. You may have emotional damage as the result of the incident and this can affect your sleep, appetite, emotional stability and overall well-being. You may develop a fear of being in the area where the attack happened and experience flashbacks when you see a dog belonging to the breed that injured you. If you want to seek compensation for such pain and suffering, ask your personal injury lawyer what kind of documentation you might need to prove emotional injury, such as a diagnosis letter from a psychiatrist.
Experiencing a dog attack can be both physically and emotionally devastating. Knowing which questions to ask your lawyer in the aftermath may help strengthen your court case and win you the compensation you seek.