“Man bites dog” may be news, but “lawyer sues dog” can’t help but turn heads. Here is an area of law you don’t see every day.
A dog bite attorney – a lawyer to represent you when you’ve been bitten by someone’s dog – is a real thing. It’s actually a subspecialty of personal injury along with automobile accidents, industrial accidents, product liability, and slips and falls.
Before you dismiss this as crank law, consider how many people are bitten by dogs every year. With almost half of all families owning a pet dog, it’s not surprising that dog bites are common occurrences. Dogs evolved with humans for millennia as both friends and fellow hunters. Guard dogs exist across most cultures. Pushed to the logic of owning a watchdog, biting is what these pets are supposed to do. At least to the appropriate people. (Burglar yes; postman no)
PTSD (Pet trauma stress disorder)
Being attacked by a dog can be both physically and emotionally traumatic. Small children and the elderly can be particularly vulnerable. If you’ve only been nipped once by a nervous Chihuahua, you may not appreciate just how seriously a large, vicious dog can maim a person. They can administer a permanent injury, even death. What a dog loves to do to a T-bone steak, it can do to your leg.
What does a dog bite attorney do?
A proper dog bite lawyer will know the science behind dog behavior. He or she will understand territoriality, the instinct to chase, and the urge to bite and chew things just to relieve tension. The lawyer should also understand the elements of recovery from a bite, including medical and surgical treatment.
A dog bite attorney should be able to help the victim find the owner of the dog, investigate the circumstances of the attack and question witnesses. He or she must also understand the laws that pertain to owning a dog, controlling its movement and the reporting requirements when a dog has attacked someone. He or she will also know what to do when a dog owner behaves irresponsibly.
What to do if you are bitten
Barry P. Goldberg, an experienced personal injury attorney in Southern California recommends doing the following if you are bitten:
First, seek medical help as soon as possible both to limit the damage and to document you were attacked.
Second, take pictures. Get photos of the wounds if you doctor didn’t as part of his exam and include the damage to your clothes. If you can also get pictures of the place where the attack took place, even better. Continue to take pictures of the wounds as they heal.
Keep records. Write down everything you remember as soon after the attack as possible. Memories fade with time. What were you doing at the time? Where did the attack come from? Start a journal to record all the ways the injury impacts your life. Keep your receipts and medical records.
And, of course, seek legal representation.