Dog bites are no laughing matter. The inside of a dog’s mouth is full of germs; and when a dog bites, both the bite itself, and the possible infection, can inflict serious damage. As a general rule, a dog’s owner is responsible for any damage caused, although you may be at fault if you trespassed on the owner’s property, or if you provoked the dog. Here are the things you can do if you, a loved one, or one of your pets are bitten by a dog.
1. If there are any witnesses to the incident, get their names and phone numbers. Also, of course, determine who owns the dog, and collect this information as well.
2. Seek treatment for the dog bite. But first, take photos. And of course, save the bills.
3. File an official report of the incident with the police department, which may have a special animal control department. Ask what is to be done about the dog. If prior incidents have been reported, depending on local statutes, the owner may be required to take additional steps to contain the dog, or perhaps even destroy it.
4. Discuss the case with a lawyer. Bring all the information you have collected. Depending on the severity of the case, you may wish to first contact the owner and seek restitution informally; to sue in small claims court; or to sue in regular civil court.
5. Where applicable, proceed with the lawsuit. While you generally cannot be represented directly by a lawyer in small claims court, you can receive advice. Review local and state statutes. Sometimes, courthouses provide free brochures on how to use small claims court.