Dog Bite Law FAQs

Last updated on: February 19, 2012

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Unfortunately, dog bite attacks are more common than many people believe. As the number of domesticated animals continues to grow, dog bite rates follow. Indeed, the United States has seen a sharp increase in dog-related incidents in recent years.

Dog bite attacks invoke a broad variety of laws and rulings that vary in application depending on the specifics of your accident. These laws may also differ depending on where the incident occurred. Plaintiffs in dog bite cases usually ask the same questions; knowing the answers to these frequently asked questions can help dog attack victims recover more quickly after an incident.

If you or a loved one was injured by a dog, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free case evaluation with one of our experienced dog bite lawyers. We can then answer any questions you may still have after reading this article about dog bite attacks.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 4.7 million dog bites every year in the United States; surprisingly, both the CDC and the Humane Society believe that this estimate is too low. Dog bites occur roughly every 75 seconds in the United States. Each day, over 1000 citizens require and receive emergency medical care for a dog bite injury.

Most dog bite victims are young children. The Humane Society estimates that nearly 51% of dog bite victims are children, and the rate of dog bites for children is highest for those between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. Did you know dog bites are the second most common cause of emergency room visits for children?

Notably, children are also more likely than adults to need medical attention and are far more likely to be severely injured by a dog bite. Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and usually while interacting with familiar dogs. The vast majority of biting dogs belong to the victim’s family or friends; in fact, 80% of dog bites happen at home!

Every year, dog bite treatments cost insurance companies, victims, and owners more than $1 billion in treatment expenses. Dog bite attacks can happen to anyone, and when they do, these attacks can be heartbreaking for the involved parties. If you were injured by a dog, you should contact an attorney who handles dog bite cases to assess the specifics of your incident; a dog bite lawyer can help you gather evidence, determine liability, and move forward with your claim.


Although dog bite incidents may appear unpredictable, there are some common causes of dog bites; knowing these causes ahead of time can help owners prevent future incidents. If prevention is not possible, knowing the reasons behind a dog bite may help pinpoint responsible parties who share legal liability in a claim. Some common causes of dog bites include:


Many dogs bite because they are afraid of some part of their immediate surroundings. A dog may feel threatened by the presence of an unknown person or animal, and a threatened dog often attacks in an attempt to protect itself or its owner.


Some dogs may be trained to protect property or their owners; as a result of this training, many dogs feel territorial. Many dog bites are caused by an unknown individual interfering with the dog’s territory. Dogs commonly feel threatened by unknown people or animals; thus, it may be wise to abstain from intruding on another’s property to avoid meeting one of these defensively trained animals.


Dogs, like people, may be hypersensitive when suffering from an illness; they may lash out more frequently when sick due to increased sensitivity and irritability. If you are around a sick animal, it is best to leave it alone until it recovers.

There are many safety guidelines that adults and children should follow when around an animal; first and foremost, people should avoid interacting, confronting, or antagonizing unfamiliar animals, especially without the permission of the owner. Many dog bites are preventable through education and care; unfortunately, some may not be.

If you were injured in a dog bite accident, it is important to know the reasons behind the attack. Pinpointing the root cause of a dog bite incident may help you allocate liability among the responsible parties. Knowing the origin of the dog’s aggression may help you prove owner liability to the court, allowing you to successfully proceed with your claim.


Dog bites can happen for a variety of reasons and typically vary in severity. When dealing with dog bites, there are many different treatments you may receive depending on the specifics of your injuries. These injuries can range from superficial to fatal wounds.

If you sustain superficial or puncture wounds from a dog bite, clean the wound with running water and disinfectant accordingly. Afterwards, medical experts recommend applying a topical antibiotic and covering the wound with a clean bandage. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need to seek immediate medical attention, especially if you suspect that the animal may be rabid or carrying a disease.

If you are bitten by an unknown dog, the American Red Cross suggests that you do not try to stop, catch, or hold the animal. Instead, you should contact Animal Control and call 911 so that you can obtain the needed vaccinations as soon as possible.

Do I have a claim if i was bitten by a dog?

Depending on the specifics of your dog bite incident, you may be able to file a legal claim in court seeking compensation for your injuries. The specific requirements for your dog bite case will primarily depend on what type of jurisdiction the accident occurred in. In the United States, most states typically operate under either strict liability or the one-bite rule.

Strict Liability

Many states are strict liability states when it comes to dog bites, which means that a dog owner can be held liable for their dog’s actions, regardless of the animal’s history. Victims may be able to recover compensation for their injuries under negligence, negligence per se, or intentional tort common law theories. Many state codes mandate that the owner of any dog that bites any person while such is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, is liable for damages suffered by the victim.

Many strict liability states do not require that the owner be aware of any previous biting incidents or aggressive tendencies to be held liable. Some states have also established dangerous dog statutes, which are generally intended to protect the public from dangerous animals. In some cases, an aggressive dog may be declared dangerous under state law, which may require the owner to take extra precautions with the animal moving forward; if the owner fails to do so, they may be held criminally and civilly liable.

One-Bite Rule

Other states adhere to the “one-bite rule,” which establishes the requirements for holding an owner liable for harm inflicted by a domestic animal. In these states, an injured person seeking to recover damages for a dog bite must show that the dog’s owner knew that the dog had a tendency for aggressive behavior or that the dog’s owner was negligent in controlling the animal and/or preventing the bite from occurring. Additionally, that negligence must be the cause of the plaintiff’s ultimate injuries.

The merits of your claim may vary drastically depending on what kind of jurisdiction the accident occurred in. Claims involving dog bites require extensive legal analysis because they are usually very fact-specific. If you were injured in a dog bite attack, you should contact a firm with dog bite lawyers who can help you evaluate the merits of your case; if they have experience with these type of personal injury cases, they will be able to carefully analyze and apply the specific laws of your jurisdiction.


If you were injured in a dog bite incident and can meet all of the requirements imposed by your jurisdiction, you may be entitled to damages; these damages can vary widely depending on the specifics of your claim, ranging from reimbursement for medical expenses to compensation for long-term injuries. In some cases, a court may even permit closely related bystanders to recover for emotional distress resulting from the incident.

You may be able to recover damages as compensation for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Physical pain
  • Loss of consortium
  • Property damage
  • Emotional trauma

Calculating damages in a dog bite claim can be difficult, especially in cases involving multiple defendants; your court will likely consider the severity of your injuries, your incurred expenses, and the contributing actions of the defendant when calculating your damages. In some states, victims engaged in reckless or negligent behavior may be held partially liable for their own injuries, which can decrease the overall damages owed by the defendant, so if you provoked the attack, your compensation amount will be affected. If you were injured in a dog bite attack, it may be beneficial to contact a dog bite attorney who can help you evaluate the facts of your case and pursue compensation accordingly.


Dog bite incidents are commonly caused by the same triggers; knowing the common causes of dog bite attacks can help you keep yourself safe when around animals. These accidents can inflict serious injuries onto involved individuals, with some even causing death. Fortunately, many dog bite accidents are preventable if owners and friends choose to follow the recommended safety guidelines and procedures.

At Zinda Law Group, we understand that incidents involving dog bites can cause substantial disruption to an injured individual’s life. If you were injured by a dog, you should contact a lawyer who handles dog bite accident and injury cases as soon as possible. An experienced attorney on hire will be able to help you assess liability, allocate fault, and seek fair compensation.

We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue the highest compensation possible. Zinda Law Group offers personalized and quality consultation about the specifics of your legal claim. The sooner you contact our office, the better we may be able to serve you.

If you or a loved one was injured in a dog bite incident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with our dog bite lawyers. You won’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

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