You’re out for a walk in your neighborhood when suddenly a loose dog runs up and bites you. The whole incident happens so quickly that you don’t get a good look at the dog or where it came from. After the dog runs off, you’re left with an injury and no idea who owns the dog that bit you. What do you do now? Can a dog bite attorney even help if you don’t know who owns the dog? Here’s the information you need to know.
Document Everything You Can About the Incident
After you’ve been medically treated, it’s time to start gathering information about the dog bite incident. Documentation will be crucial to helping a dog bite attorney investigate your case. Write down everything you can remember about the attack, even small details like:
- The approximate time it happened
- Exact location/address of the incident
- What the dog looked like – breed, color, size, collar or tags, etc
- Which direction it came from and ran off to
- If there were any witnesses around
- The injuries you sustained
If you can safely take photos of your injuries or the scene, do so. Be sure to get copies of all medical records related to the dog bite as well. This information will allow an attorney to piece together what happened even if the owner is unknown.
Consult a Dog Bite Attorney As Soon As Possible
Don’t delay in seeking legal representation – the sooner a dog bite lawyer can get involved, the better. There are steps they can take right away to help identify the dog’s owner. A seasoned dog bite attorney will know exactly how to proceed even without the owner’s name. Here are some of the initial things they may do:
- Interview you for additional details that could help pinpoint where the dog came from
- Canvas the neighborhood looking for residents who recognize the dog description
- Contact animal control to check for loose dog reports matching the dog breed, color, size, etc
- Check local vet records for dogs fitting the description to find the owner
- Place ads asking for info about the loose dog to jog potential witnesses’ memories
In some cases, they may be able to declare the dog “dangerous” so that the local municipality has authority to find and restrain it. A good attorney exhausts all options to discover who is responsible for your injuries.
Decide If You Should File a Claim Against the Owner’s Insurance
Let’s say the identity of the dog owner does get discovered. Your attorney can then investigate whether there is an applicable insurance policy to file a claim against. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover dog bite liability for the policyholder. Your lawyer can get the details of the policy to see what they will pay out for your medical bills, lost wages from work, pain and suffering, and other damages. If the insurance company makes a fair settlement offer, you can choose to accept it and forgo suing the individual owner. However, if they refuse to pay, then a lawsuit is the next step.
Sue the Dog Owner for Your Damages
Without insurance, the only option to recover your damages is to file a lawsuit directly against the negligent dog owner. Your attorney will name the owner in the lawsuit and serve them with court papers stating your legal claims against them. Lawsuits take time but ensure you are adequately compensated. With an attorney fighting for you, you can win a judgment requiring the owner to pay all your proven losses – even if they tried to avoid responsibility initially. Don’t let an anonymous dog attack go unaddressed.
The good news is that a dog bite attorney can absolutely help you win compensation, even when the biting dog’s owner isn’t immediately known. An experienced lawyer has the tenacity and resources to conduct a thorough investigation until the responsible party is identified. Don’t let an owner get away with their dog injuring someone. Contact an attorney right away.