Were You The Victim Of A Dog Attack? Learn How To Gather Evidence And Start Planning Your Court Case
Suffering an animal attack can be traumatizing, and it can easily disrupt the flow of your life. Getting back on your feet may require compensation from the dog owner, but many owners aren't willing to just give you anything you need. If you're worried that you'll have to take the case to court, now is the time to start planning your arguments and gathering evidence in your favor.
Interviewing Friends And Neighbors
Many states require evidence that the owner knew his or her animal was dangerous and failed to adequately protect you from the risk of harm. One of the easiest ways to prove prior knowledge of a vicious animal is to talk to the friends and neighbors of the accused. Here are a few questions that might shed some light on the owner's level of culpability:
- Did anyone ever complain about the dog being violent? Dogs that display threatening behaviors often have a history of intimidating people and other pets. You may find out that the owner has been ignoring complaints about his or her pet.
- Was the owner concerned with keeping others away from the animal? If people were often warned to keep away from the animal, it could indicate that the owner was worried it might bite them. This would indicate prior knowledge of the dog's dangerousness.
- Did the owner walk the dog with a muzzle or keep it frequently confined? Again, these precautions would make it clear that the owner considered the dog to be a bite risk.
- Have any other people or animals been bitten by the dog? Some dogs are violent with other pets before they bite a person. Finding out if anyone nearby has lost a pet to the dog could help you understand whether the owner is hiding how vicious his or her pet really is.
To protect yourself in court, it's a good idea to have your lawyer do the interviewing. That way, no one can accuse you of trying to badger or intimidate potential witnesses in your case.
Documenting The Scene Of The Incident
It's best to take photos of your injuries and other aspects of the scene as soon as possible, but your very first priority should be seeking medical attention. If you aren't capable of handling photos yourself, ask your doctor to take one for you. You should also get your doctor's contact information so that he or she may be used as a medical expert witness if your case goes to trial.
Once you can return to the area, you should take photos of any relevant factors in the attack. Broken fences, property damage, damage to your clothing, Beware of Dog signs, and the dog itself should all be photographed, if possible. Talk to any neighbors who may have witnessed the incident, and get their statement and contact information. If you have difficulty locating someone who might be able to bolster your case, have your lawyer put up flyers requesting them to contact you about your case.
Calculating Your Desired Damages
Before you can ask for compensation for your injuries, you have to tally up the amount you'll need. Medical bills are a good starting point, but you should also consider lost wages, pain and suffering, mental trauma, new-found phobias related to the bite, court fees, and property damage.
In cases of extreme negligence on the owner's part, punitive damages may also be awarded to you. This typically only happens when the court has already warned the dog owner in the past, and you can demonstrate that the owner showed complete disregard for your safety before you were attacked.
Being bitten may knock you flat, but you don't have to stay down. Gather evidence to support your case and talk to your lawyer about potential legal arguments in your favor. With enough diligence, planning, and a little luck, you should be able to move on with your life. For more information, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.