Liability means establishing the financial responsibility for an accident. Not every dog bite leads to a valid legal claim. Most of the time, liability is clear when a dog bites someone, but it can be fact-specific. An Oak Lawn lawyer could assist in the investigation in order to establish liability for a dog bite, and damages can be determined from there.

Who Tends to be Involved in Dog Bite Cases?

Although the owner of the dog is initially involved, usually the case proceeds with little direct involvement from the owner. The insurance company typically takes over the claim, while police or animal control may only be involved in the beginning stage. Ultimately, if there is no agreement on liability, a jury would determine whether the owner of the dog was liable for the bite. For this reason, it is important to contact a dog bite lawyer early in the process. If a decision on liability is made, it is difficult to change that decision from the insurance company.

Length of a Case

The length of a dog bite claim depends on the severity of the injuries. It is important to withhold submitting a claim for damages until the scarring has healed to the greatest extent possible and its permanent condition is known.

Once the scar has reached the maximum medical improvement, then it usually takes a month or two to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. Unfortunately, if a case goes to litigation, the timeframe for resolving a dog bite case increases dramatically.

Proving Liability After an Animal Attack

To make a recovery in a dog bite case, one must establish certain elements, beginning with proving that someone had control over the dog at the time of the attack. It may not necessarily be the owner, as long as someone else had control at the time. Next, the victim needs to prove that they did nothing to antagonize or provoke the dog, and finally they must prove damages. Damages can take the form of medical bills, scarring, physical pain, and psychological suffering resulting from the dog bite.

What Could Prevent Liability From Being Proven?

Most of the time, the owner of the dog is legally responsible if the dog attacks someone in Oak Lawn, but there are certain circumstances in which the owner would not be liable. For example, if someone antagonizes or teases an animal, or if a child pulls the tail of a dog, that would be considered provocation. The facts of the defense of provocation are very specific and often easy to overcome. Another situation in which a dog owner may not be liable is if the individual is trespassing in an area they are not allowed to be in, because the law does not provide protection to a trespasser bitten by an animal residing on the premises.

What Happens if the Plaintiff is Determined to be Partially Liable?

As with all personal injury cases, a jury can take into consideration whether the plaintiff was also partially at fault. An accident or a dog bite does not need to be 100 percent one person’s fault, and both parties may share some responsibility.

A jury can consider the actions of the plaintiff in deciding whether they did something that may have contributed to the animal attack. So long as the negligence of the injured person is less than 50 percent, they will be entitled to a recovery under a system called contributory negligence. If the person who was bitten was deemed more than 50 percent at fault, the law does not allow that person to make any recovery.

Let an Oak Lawn Attorney Help You Establish Fault for Your Dog Bite

When dealing with an animal, it may be difficult to know who is liable for an attack or what is necessary to prove it. An Oak Lawn attorney could help set up a strong dog bite claim that establishes liability and holds the correct parties responsible. Call now to see if you may be able to recoup losses from a dog bite attack.