It’s not every day that you get attacked by a dog, and so it isn’t surprising that you weren’t thinking about the legal battle that could ensue over a dog bite claim. But now that things are settling down and you’ve got an idea of the damages you’ve suffered, it makes sense that you’d start to wonder about how you can get your just compensation for what you went through.
But do you still have enough time to file a dog bite claim?
We’re going to start out by looking at what steps you should take after being bitten by a dog. From there, we’ll look at how long you have to file a dog bite claim and what type of work goes into winning a dog bite case. Finally, we’ll look at what happens during a dog bite case, which depends on the circumstances of the case.
What Should You Do After Being Bitten by a Dog?
The most important thing you can do after being bitten by a dog is to seek medical attention. Obviously, this is important because your health is important, but it is equally as important to the potential court case you’ll face because of the bite.
When you seek medical attention, you create records that show you suffered an injury from the dog bite. Waiting to go to the doctor can give the opposition a chance to argue that something else caused your medical problems, not the dog bite. So the closer to the bite you can get medical attention, the better. It’s also a good idea to have a doctor check-up on how your injuries are healing.
If you have the chance, try to get some photographs of where the attack happened. Showing where the incident happened is important as it can help to establish how much responsibility you have for the injury compared to the owner of the dog. For example, if you were sneaking across private property that is marked with warnings about a dangerous dog then you have much less of a leg to stand on than if you were just walking through the park when you were suddenly attacked.
It is also a good idea to exchange contact information with anybody that was a witness to the attack. Their recollections can be invaluable when it comes to winning a case down the road. They can help to establish that you weren’t egging on the dog or purposefully trying to bother it, which would only make sense for the dog to attack then as it was provoked to do so.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim About Your Dog Bite?
Don’t be alarmed if you aren’t able to get all of the above information right away. The most important thing you can do is ensure that you are okay by visiting a doctor. Chances are good that your doctor visit and your nerves will eat up the rest of the free time you have on the day of the attack.
Thankfully, you have two years from the date of the attack to file a claim. But keep in mind that this time period is necessary to be used to gather information and evidence that will help you win your case.
If you decide to file a claim at the last minute then you’ll deprive your attorney of the chance to build a solid case that would give you the best chance of winning. It is smarter to hire an attorney earlier to maximize the amount of time they have to solidify your position.
An attorney can help by gathering witness reports, looking into the dog’s history of biting, negotiating with your insurance company, reviewing the medical records, gathering information about the days you missed from work to recover, getting a professional analysis of how your injuries will affect your future, and more.
What Happens In a Dog Bite Case?
What happens during a dog bite case is going to be determined by which law was broken. There are two general ways that you can hold a dog owner liable for your dog bite injuries:
- If the dog owner knew that the dog was aggressive or dangerous then their carelessness in letting the dog wander around can make them liable. You need to show that the dog was aggressive and that the dog owner knew that they were aggressive, plus they failed in their duty to keep it properly contained.
- The dog was required to be leashed or under the owner’s control but it was not. With this particular angle, you need to show that there was a local ordinance that required the dog to be on a leash (or muzzled), that they were not properly controlled in this manner, and that the dog owner’s carelessness was to blame.
An important point in both of these circumstances is the carelessness of the owner. Accidents happen and so if a dog got out by an accident, such as a third party opening a door and letting them out, then the dog owner may not be guilty of breaching their duty of care.
Another important angle is the idea that the dog was dangerous. A dangerous dog, according to Georgia law, is classified as a dog that has caused a substantial puncture to a human with its teeth or a dog that attacks aggressively enough to pose an imminent threat of harm. It’s important to establish whether the owner should have known the dog was dangerous or not and that can take a lot of investigating.
How Should I Investigate a Dog Bite?
The best thing to do is to hire an attorney that has experience investigating dog bite cases. They’ll know what to look for, where to start looking for it, and they’ll have access to professionals that can help them to discover more information.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, reach out to Nimmons Malchow Johnson to learn more about how we can help today.