Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 1 out of 5 of those cases becomes infected. Let’s face it – in the overwhelming majority of these cases, dogs would not be biting people if their owners adhered to state and local laws governing leashing and controlling their pets.
Every state in the United States maintains a combination of state statutes, county and city ordinances, public regulations, published case law and the common law of negligence – all dedicated to preventing dog bites and compensating victims.
In fact, the law not only covers victims of negligent conduct by dog owners, in many places, the law also covers:
- Strict liability (which make dog owners responsible without proving their negligence)
- Intentional conduct
- Reckless conduct
- Violation of public health and safety laws, leash laws, trespass laws, and running-at-large laws (sometimes referred to a “negligence per se”)
When an adult or a child is bitten by a dog, it is crucial to get immediate medical attention and then to retain an attorney very early in the process. Take pictures immediately upon sustaining the injury. Document everything! Get the dog’s name. Get the names of the owner of the dog, and the owner of the property where the dog lives.
If the dog bite occurred somewhere other than where the dog normally lives, then it is important to find out where the dog usually lives as well as where the dog was at the time of the bite. Both locations need to be identified; both addresses are important, and both owner’s names are necessary. If the dog owner rents the property where the dog lives, it is important to know the renters’ names as well as the owner’s names.
We will be asking you whether the landlord (the owner of the property) was aware that the tenant (renter) owned a dog. Take pictures of the injuries constantly! At the scene of the accident, at the hospital, at home, every day. On the first day of school, on the first day back to work, and on any other important occasion. Take pictures when the stitches go in; when the stitches come out.
In addition to being a trained personal injury lawyer, Mark S. Guralnick is a licensed private investigator. Leveraging these legal and investigative skills, Mark will probe deeply into the background of the dog, the attack and every other aspect of your case. Animal control records will be subpoenaed to prove ownership and any prior history of dangerousness of the dog, including prior reports of misconduct involving the same dog or the same dog owner.
Dozens of questions will be pursued. For example:
- What time of day did this happen?
- What city did this occur in?
- Did the city have a municipal leash law? A running-at-large law?
- Exactly where did the attack take place?
- What was the victim doing immediately before the attack?
- What was the dog doing right before the attack?
- At any time prior to the attack was the dog being restrained?
- Who was present at the time of the scene (including all bystanders)?
- What was the dog’s state of health prior to the attack?
- What is the dog’s age?
- What is the dog’s breed?
- What is the dog’s history of violence / prior attacks?
- Was the dog agitated or excited for any reason prior to the attack?
- Was the dog scared or nervous for any reason prior to the attack?
- Did the dog seem uneasy or unusual in any manner prior to the attack?
- Were any other animals present or passing by at any time prior to the attack?
- Was the dog provoked?
- Did the victim have anything on his/her person that attracted the dog (such as food)?
- Where did the dog come from immediately before the attack?
- What happened immediately before the attack?
- What foods had the dog consumed prior to the attack?
- Was the dog hungry? Had it been fed?
- How precisely did the attack occur – step by step?
- How did the attack come to an end?
- On what property was the dog located while the attack was occurring?
- Where did the dog go after the attack?
- Did the dog have a collar?
- Did the dog have a tag? What did it say?
- Did the dog have a leash connected to its collar at any point?
- Were police called to the scene? Who did they interview?
- Did police generate a report?
- Did animal control officers generate a report? Did they take the animal?
- Did the victim obtain medical/hospital treatment? What records were produced?
In some cases, we will also subpoena the records of the dog’s veterinarian. We have learned that veterinary records may contain evidence that dogs have bitten other people, have been involved in fighting and other aggressive behaviors. Doctor’s office notes, in fact, often refer to dogs that bite the veterinary technicians, further confirming the presence of a dangerous dog with a predisposition to biting.
If you or your child is the victim of a dog bite injury, you are entitled to compensation for your hospital and medical bills, your scars and disfigurement, and your pain and suffering.
If you were employed at the time of the injury, you are also entitled to recover your lost wages and fringe benefits, and money for the impairment of your working capacity. You may very well have a legal case against the owner of the dog. Don’t try to deal with dog owners or homeowners or insurance companies on your own; they will try to sell you out quickly and cheaply.
The Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick stands ready, willing and able to assist you. With more than 30 years of legal and investigative experience, we are available to answer your questions.