Dogs can be our best friends and most loyal companions. More than a third of US households - 36% - own at least one dog and share our passion the furry pooch. They keep us company, help decrease our stress levels and motivate us to exercise. To protect us, unfortunately, they sometimes also bite — often not understanding that the person they attacked was innocent.
When this happens, often stressful tensions build up between neighbors, friends and sometimes even family members.
At Casey Law Offices, we have represented many Wisconsinites who have been injured by a dog. A common situation we see is that an individual is bitten by his or her neighbor’s dog, resulting in a trip to the ER. The neighbors are friends, and the dog has never attacked anyone before. The injured neighbor is hesitant to get the police involved for fear of causing tensions with his/her friend but wants to make sure his medical bills are paid.
This injured neighbor is entitled to the compensation for his medical bills, as well as any future medical bills that may result from the bite, such as physical therapy or cosmetic surgery to treat scarring. Also, if that neighbor missed work due to the injury, it’s likely he would be able to receive compensation for lost wages - and, sometimes, compensation for pain and suffering.
Typically, the dog owner’s home or renter’s insurance will pay for the damages. But, to be eligible to receive an insurance settlement, the dog owner must be found liable for the injury.
When is the Dog Owner Liable?
Wisconsin statute governs dog bites and other dog-related injuries. Dog owners are liable when their dog causes injury to a person, another animal or property. This includes even if the dog never had a prior incident involving an attack. If the dog did have a previous incident and the owner had been notified about it, and the dog bites again, the owner is liable for double the amount of the damages.
It is important to note that “injury” doesn’t just cover dog bites to individuals, but is open to broader interpretation. For instance, if the dog jumps on a person and knocks him down, or a dog claw punctures the skin or eyes, resulting in injury, the dog owner is liable. Also, the law applies to a dog which bites or attacks a domestic animal, or even in some cases property, causing injury.
It is important that anyone injured by a dog file his or her lawsuit within three years from the time of injury. This statute of limitations is helpful in that the full medical costs involved in a dog-related injury are often not known in the immediate weeks or sometimes months after the attack.
What to Do if Injured by a Dog
- Seek medical care immediately. If the dog broke through the skin, you need to get care - even if the wound seems mild. Bites are vulnerable to infection, and some dogs carry diseases. If you suffered a head or other injury due to an accident caused by a dog, also seek medical attention.
- Keep all of your medical records.
- Alert the dog owner and explain exactly what happened and how including that you needed emergency medical attention. If possible, request the dog’s information from a veterinarian to ensure the animal is up-to-date on its vaccines.
- If you’re not able to identify the owner, call animal control immediately and mention this to your doctor.
- File a report with the police or animal control. Check to see if the dog has any other reports of violent behavior in the past. Request a copy of the report for your records.
- Take pictures of the injury and write an account of the event as soon as you can. If there was a witness, ask for a statement and contact information.
- Talk to your neighbors about the attack, and see if they’ve witnessed any aggressive behavior from the dog that they would be willing to testify. If you or anyone in your home have witnessed similar behavior, document that as well.
- Call our offices at 414-276-3776.
We, at Casey Law Offices, are ready to help you. Contact us at 4140262-3776 if you have been injured by a dog.