Each year, thousands are bitten by animals – often household dogs. In such cases, an individual bitten by a dog has a legal right to recover damages from the owner or a responsible party. First of all, seek medical attention. A dog bite can cause serious injury and infection, and even death if the animal was diseased. Once you’ve sought medical attention, speak with an attorney with experience in animal bite cases.
The damages you are entitled to vary depending on the severity of your injuries. For example, you may be entitled to:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
In some cases, you may be entitled to punitive damages, which are awarded to punish the guilty party for their behavior. To justify punitive damages, the guilty individual must be found negligent, either through reckless or intentional behavior. For example, if the dog owner knew their pet was dangerous, yet allowed the animal to run free, off a leash, then they are at-fault. In such a case the court may deem punitive damages to be appropriate.
After a dog attack, the animal’s owner may not be the only individual held responsible. A few scenarios where an individual other than the animal’s owner may be held liable include the following:
- Keepers – An individual who is responsible for the care or custody of the dog may be considered the owner or keeper, and is held responsible for an animal attack. A keeper may be considered a kennel, pound, or animal sitter.
- Parents of Minors – If the animal’s owner is under 18 years of age, many states allow a legal claim to be brought against the minor’s parents, even if they were not directly involved in the incident.
- Landlords – If a landlord knew a tenant’s animal was dangerous, they may be held liable for injuries.