Even the gentlest of dogs can be provoked to bite if they are frightened or threatened. When a dog bites someone, it becomes a serious issue – there are a variety of laws regarding dog bites. You cannot predict if or when your dog might bite someone, but you can prepare yourself by learning what to do. In this article, you will learn the basics about laws regarding dog bites and you will receive tips for how to handle the situation.
At the Scene of the Attack
Many dogs have natural guarding instincts and they can be provoked to attack if they feel their territory, their family, or their own lives are in danger. If your dog bites someone who was not committing a crime, however, it becomes an entirely different issue.
The first thing you need to do is to remain calm – do not argue with or accuse the victim because that could provoke him or her to file charges and to pursue damages. Make sure that the victim receives the proper medical attention and, regardless of whether you have insurance or not, you should offer to pay the expenses. After the victim has been tended to, make sure that you give him your contact information and collect contact information for any witnesses to the attack in case you need them later.
Following the Attack
If the bite is very minor, the victim may not pursue damages. In the event of a serious bite, or if you provoke the victim into anger, you may have a lawsuit on your hands. Over the course of the few weeks following the incident, stay in touch with the victim to make sure they are doing okay, but avoid making any statements that could be used against you or your dog later. If the victim chooses to press charges, you may end up in civil court, criminal court, or “dog court”.
Even if the victim does not press charges, animal control may take action against you and/or your dog. If this happens, you will need to prepare a defense. You will also need to provide proof of your dog’s vaccinations, especially proof that he is up-to-date on rabies shots.
If you pay for the victim’s medical expenses, keep in mind that your insurance company is not likely to reimburse you. If you are not insured, you may want to contact your lawyer if any of the following cases apply:
- The victim asks you for money.
- You are paying a large sum to the victim.
- The victim files a claim or you suspect that he will.
- The bite was very serious.
- You suspect your dog has rabies or another disease.
- You suspect you may be facing criminal charges.
If you do have insurance, make sure to report the incident. Your homeowner’s or rental insurance may provide some level of coverage for the victim, but you will need to speak to an agent to determine whether this is the case.
In most cases, criminal charges are not filed against first-time offenders, especially if the bite is very minor. If your dog bites someone, however, you need to be very careful about what you say and do because, if the victim later files a lawsuit, your statements could be used against you. No matter how the situation plays out, you need to take precautions against your dog biting someone again in the future. This is not only for the protection of others, but for your dog’s sake as well.