Indiana’s Trusted Personal Injury Advocates Since 1963.

Yosha Law Firm Logo

How to Prove Fault in a Dog Bite Case

Dog bites can cause severe physical injuries and emotional trauma. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack, you may be entitled to compensation – but proving the owner was at fault is critical.

An Overview of Dog Bites in the US

A dangerous dog biting a person's hand.

Dog bite incidents are not a rare occurrence. In fact, an estimated 4.5 million people annually sustain a bite from a canine. Annually, over 800,000 of those bite victims seek medical care, as reported by American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), with children making up the majority of these incidents. Here’s a closer look at the issue:

  • Nearly 20% of individuals bitten by dogs require medical treatment.
  • Children are most frequently bitten and are at a greater risk of experiencing severe injuries.

Puncture wounds stand out as the predominant type of injury from dog bites. This is expected given dogs’ strong jaw muscles and sharp teeth, capable of penetrating the skin even during less severe encounters.

The average compensation for a dog bite claim is $64,555. Dog bites can inflict significant harm, leading to dog owners being liable for compensating the injured parties. Typically, homeowners’ insurance policies cover these expenses, and the settlement figures can be considerable.

The average expense for a home insurance claim related to dog bites or incidents reached $64,555 in 2022, marking a 31.7% rise in claim costs from 2021, when the average compensation amounted to $49,025.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on establishing negligence and liability in a dog bite case.

Evidence of a dog bite manifests as puncture marks and bruising on a woman's leg.

Gather Extensive Evidence Immediately After a Dog Bite

The most crucial step after a dog bite is to collect and preserve as much evidence as possible at the scene. The more documentation you have, the stronger your negligence claim will be.

As soon as you can, take photographs from multiple angles showing:

  • Your injuries (lacerations, puncture wounds, bruising, etc.)
  • The scene of the attack and any potential hazards
  • The dog itself

Seek medical attention right away, even for seemingly minor bites which can easily become infected. Obtain all medical records related to the incident – these will help document the extent of your damages.

If there were witnesses present, get their contact information and written statements describing what they observed. Witness testimony can provide powerful third-party validation of the owner’s negligence.

Identify the Dog’s Owner or Keeper if You are the Victim of a Dog Bite

Determining who was responsible for controlling the dog at the time of the attack is essential for establishing liability. If you don’t know the owner’s name, try to find out from witnesses or by contacting animal control. Describing the dog’s breed and appearance can aid the investigation.

In some cases, the liable party may not be the legal owner, but rather the dog’s keeper or handler at that time. What matters is identifying the person or entity that failed to properly restrain or control the animal.

Prove the Owner’s Negligence

To win a dog bite case, you generally need to show that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care in controlling their dog. This could involve:

  • Allowing the dog to roam freely without a leash in public
  • Keeping the dog in an unsafe area with hazardous conditions
  • Failing to properly secure or restrain the dog despite knowledge of its violent propensities
  • Other negligent acts or lack of reasonable precautions

The law and requirement for proving negligence can vary from state to state. Some have “strict liability” dog bite statutes where owners are automatically liable unless very specific exceptions apply, like if the victim was trespassing or provoked the attack.

Other states follow contributory negligence rules where the owner’s liability could be reduced if the victim’s own negligence contributed to the attack, like by agitating or startling the dog.

Establishing negligence plays a crucial role in dog bite litigation, primarily hinging on showing that the owner’s failure to exercise adequate control led to injury. In Indiana, owners unable to manage their dogs, known to be dangerous, are typically considered negligent. However, when a normally docile pet launches an unforeseen attack, demonstrating negligence becomes more complex. The key challenge is to provide solid proof indicating the defendant’s breach of their duty of care.

An experienced dog bite lawyer will understand the nuances of your state’s dog bite laws and what specific evidence is needed to demonstrate the owner’s negligence caused your injuries.

An attorney meeting with a client to discuss a dog bite case.

Consult Yosha Law’s Experienced Dog Bite Attorneys

Building a strong negligence claim after an animal attack requires extensive documentation, investigation, and an in-depth understanding of premises liability law

This is why it’s highly advisable to hire a personal injury lawyer who specializes specifically in dog bite and animal attack cases.

Your attorney can:

  • Investigate all aspects of the incident and gather evidence you may have missed.
  • Identify and obtain critical records like animal control reports on the dog’s history.
  • Build a compelling argument supported by evidence, case law, and statute.
  • Calculate and demand the full compensation you deserve for current and future medical costs, lost wages, pain & suffering, and other damages.
  • Skillfully negotiate with the owner’s homeowners insurance company for a fair settlement.
  • Take your case to trial if the negligent party refuses to pay a reasonable amount.

Do not try to negotiate with the dog owner or insurance companies alone. Dog bite cases are inherently complex due to the web of liability laws involved. Having an experienced attorney advocate for your rights from the start gives you the best chance at maximum compensation.

The personal injury lawyers at Yosha Law have extensive experience holding negligent dog owners accountable. We understand how traumatic and devastating dog attacks can be – and we’ll fight aggressively to help you get your life back on track and recover the compensation you are owed.

Dog bite injuries can have catastrophic, lifelong consequences – but you don’t have to suffer in silence as the victim. By taking the proper steps to prove negligence, gathering indisputable evidence, and working with a tenacious attorney, you can hold the reckless owner accountable and secure the justice and compensation you and your family deserve.

Contact Yosha Law today for a free consultation to discuss the details of your dog attack case. The sooner we get to work, the better your chances of a successful outcome.

A Path of Advocacy for Justice

Get Brandon Yosha’s book and join his mesmerizing journey against negligence and insurance goliaths. 
Find inspiration in everyday Americans’ victories after devastating losses and learn how to stand up for justice.

Related Articles

I’ve Been in an Accident!
What Next?

Download our free checklist: 5 Things To Do After An Accident and find out the critical mistakes made by personal injury victims (the ones insurance companies are praying you’ll make).

    Yosha Law Firm – Personal Injury Lawyers

    Yosha Law Firm – Personal Injury Lawyers