“Dog attacks 4 year old.”
“Chimp rips woman’s hands off.”
Headlines like these always catch the public’s eye, but few people know what happens after an animal attack. It’s a far-off tragedy that is quickly forgotten.
But if you were bitten by a dog or other pet, the pain is literal and real. You have legal rights and can receive compensation from the animal’s owner by following this process.
First Steps after the Bite
If a pet bit you, your first priority is to get better. However, you can do a few things while you heal to help your case. Take pictures of your injuries, both before and after receiving treatment. If a lawyer or jury can see your exact injuries, the number of stitches, and any scarring, that evidence can help your case. Start putting all related paperwork, such as medical bills, in one place.
You should also begin a journal to track your pain, loss of income, and other problems caused by the attack. Keep any interaction with the animal’s owner in writing, such as email or text message, or write down the conversation as soon as possible.
Preparing for a Consultation
Written records and physical evidence are your friends. Before you see a lawyer, you’ll want to compile a file or notebook of records and other evidence to prove your case.
Your file should include:
Official Records: You should, at a minimum, include the bite report records you filed with the city, sheriff, or animal control. This proves the bite actually happened. You should also include your medical records, which you can get from your doctor, therapist, and/or hospital.
Pictures: Any pictures of your injuries, the scene of the incident, and/or the animal will help establish your case. Print them up on picture-quality paper and organize them chronologically. Be sure to mark the date of the picture clearly.
Money Matters: If you’ve made any insurance claims, bring in copies of those claims. Likewise, bring in any medical bills. If the bite has caused you to miss substantial work, bring in any other bills you cannot pay as the result of the bite.
If you’d like compensation for lost work or revenue, you will need to bring in income information from before and after the bite. Compensation for lost income can be difficult to prove. Your goal is to prove a solid cause-and-effect relationship between the bite and a change in your income.
Correspondence: Include any correspondence you’ve had with the animal’s owner(s) in your file. If they’ve agreed to help monetarily, or admitted that they knew their animal was vicious or dangerous, this could help your case.
You should also bring the journal you’ve been keeping and a list of questions for the lawyer. In your file, group records by date or record type (as we’ve done here), so the consultation goes as smoothly as possible. You will have a better consultation if your lawyers can see the entire situation.
Helpful Questions for Your Consultation
It’s helpful to write down some questions before you meet with a lawyer, so you don’t forget to ask any. Some questions you might consider asking include:
Have you handled cases like mine? What is your success rate?
Is this a valid case?
Will I work with you as my lawyer, or will I work with someone else at this firm? Can I meet him or her?
Is it possible to arrange a contingency fee? (A contingency fee means you only pay a fee after a successful settlement.)
Afterwards, ask yourself how comfortable you feel working with that lawyer or firm. Trust your instincts, as you will work with this lawyer or firm on a regular basis.
After an animal attack, your first priority is your well-being. After that, please give your local personal injury lawyer a call for more help. For aggressive, experienced representation, call Jennifer Meksraitis at 813-600-3197, or use our contact form.