Can You Sue a Dog Owner for a Dog Bite?

A dog bite can be a traumatic experience for a victim besides being painful. You may want to consult a personal injury lawyer to decide whether or not you should pursue legal action and compensation for your trauma and injuries. Your personal injury lawyer can provide you with guidance in your next steps.

Should you sue?

The old adage rings true: “It depends”. Here is a general guide to help you make this decision, though the best course of action is to consult an attorney with experience in dog bite suits.

  1. A dog bite victim must contact the owner first, this should be easy if the owner was present at the time of teh incident or is an acquaintance of the victim. If you do not know who the owner is, you may need to enlist the help of local law enforcement and/or the local animal control agency.
  2. Once you have been connected to the owner, you should write a detailed account of what happened regarding the incident including:
    1. Exactly what happened, where and why you feel the dog was at fault for the incident.
    2. Specify how you were injured and the damages you are seeking from the owner. Damages may be rewarded for medical bills following the incident, lost wages due to severe injury, and future medical expenses for therapy or pain and suffering damages.
    3. Determine a reasonable deadline for the matter to be resolved.
    4. Be polite, not hostile. Do provide a warning that if the issue is not resolved by a specific date, you may consider moving forward with legal action.
  1. You may decide you want an attorney to handle the entire process even before litigation. However, if you go through the above steps without a lawyer and your issue was unresolved, contact one immediately to handle your affairs.

What Happens When You Go To Court?

Usually a dog bite case is handled in small claims court, but if a victim sustained more severe injuries and seeks significantly more compensation, the case may be moved to a higher court. This may be additionally decided by any existing laws regarding dog bites in the victim’s state or municipality. A victim should consult an attorney in severe cases.

What Will the Victim Need to Prove?

A plaintiff will have to convince the judge of a few things to receive a favorable outcome in court. In most cases these include: proving the defendant is the rightful dog owner; proving injuries were sustained by the dog bite; the attack happened in public; damages sought are directly related to the injuries caused by the bite. Usually a dog bite case will end in a settlement, but if you feel you were the victim of an attack, contact a personal injury lawyer such as the personal injury lawyer Chicago IL locals turn to. An attorney can review the circumstances of your case and advise your legal journey.


Thanks to authors at Konrad Sherinian LLP for their insight Personal Injury Law.