What Should I Do If I Am Bit By a Dog on Public Property?

Last updated on: July 1, 2020


Dogs are said to be man’s best friend—there is a reason that, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, over 38% of American households own at least one of the furry creatures. However, for all of the enjoyment that a dog can provide to their owners when times are good, dog bites can be equally as horrible for the victim. Dog bites can occur in the blink of an eye and can leave the victim with terrible injuries, and, in the worst case, may even be fatal.

After a dog bites you or a family member, it is important to remember that you don’t need to go through the process of fighting for compensation alone. The dog bite lawyers at Zinda Law Group stand ready to use their expertise in helping guide you through this difficult time.

If you or a family member has suffered a dog bite, call (800) 863-5312 to speak with a dog bite lawyer for free.


The big distinction here is whether the attack occurred on public or private property. Public property is property that doesn’t belong to an individual, like a public park, while an example of private property would be someone’s own backyard.

Depending on the state that you are in, the laws governing these two distinct situations will be different. When the attack occurs on public property, there may be a leash law in place. Leash laws require dog owners to maintain strict control of their pet when they are on a walk or outside of their own private property.

To learn more about leash laws in each state, view this article from the Michigan State University Animal Legal & Historical Center.


Dog bites can be caused by a variety of different circumstances, which makes it extremely important for dog owners to be careful when they have their dog in public around others.


A dog can be provoked into biting by many different triggers. For example, jogging past a dog who has not been properly trained could trigger a chase reflex in the dog and lead to them attacking. In addition, a dog may see someone trying to pet them as an aggressive move and could bite in response.


Certain dogs who were bred to herd animals, like Border Collies, may bite in certain situations. These sorts of dogs will instinctually nip to herd animals into place, and they could do the same with the humans around them in certain situations. In addition, a dog who is pregnant or who recently gave birth could bite in a protective fashion.


Dogs often will bite or nip at each other in a friendly fashion when they are playing with each other. However, a dog who hasn’t been trained or socialized may continue to bite in their interactions with humans, which can prove to be very harmful.


The injuries that an individual may sustain from a dog bite can vary greatly in type and severity. A few of the more common types of injuries include:

Punctures and Lacerations

A dog’s teeth are very sharp and can cause puncture wounds as they pierce the skin. Further, a dog who bites and shakes their head can cause the skin to tear further in the form of lacerations. Severe damage to the skin may require stitches to fully heal and should be looked at by a doctor as soon as possible.


Any dog bite that punctures the skin is at risk of being infected. This is one of the reasons that as many as 10% to 15% of all dog bites actually do end up becoming infected. Bacteria from the dog’s mouth, or bacteria from touching different surfaces after the bite, can both lead to infection, which is why having a dog bite inspected by a doctor is critical.

Facial Injuries

When a dog bites their victim’s face, injuries can quickly become severe. This is because there a lot of sensitive and delicate areas on the face, like the eyes and mouth, that can lead to serious injuries and facial scarring if this is where the dog bites.


After you have been attacked, it can be difficult to try and figure out what your first step should be. Every case will be different, but generally speaking, the steps that you should take include:

1. Seek Medical Attention

Seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Certain injuries may not present serious symptoms right away and a failure to have them treated by a professional can lead to the injury worsening. Also, as mentioned above, dog bites are at a high risk of become infected, which can happen fairly quickly after the initial bite.

2. Document the Incident

After you have taken care of your medical needs, document the incident as best you can. This includes things like writing down all of the details you can remember, taking pictures of wounds and the location where the attack took place, and collecting relevant documents like your medical bills.

3. Contact a Dog Bite Attorney

It is important to remember that you do not have to go through this trying process alone. An experienced dog bite attorney may be able to help guide you through the process and explain what your options are. In addition, they may be able to help you fight for compensation for your injuries.

Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case


In order to be able to recover for your injuries in any personal injury claim, you need to be able to prove that another party is liable. In a dog bite case, this comes down to proving that the owner of the dog was liable for your injuries. The exact law that will apply depends on the state that you are in. Some states use a “one-bite” rule, which means that a dog owner may not be liable if the dog has never shown any signs of violence. However, other states use the concept of strict liability, which holds that an owner may be held liable even if they had no reason to believe that their dog might bite someone.

Who Can I Sue For A Dog Bite On Public Property?

The party that may be liable after a dog attack will typically be the owner of the dog. It would be very rare to find yourself in a circumstance where you might consider suing anyone other than the dog’s owner, and so the vast majority of cases will come down to determining if the owner can be held liable for your injuries.


No two dog bites will ever be the same, which means that no two dog bite claims will ever be the same. However, they will generally have the same steps.

1. Speak with a Dog Bite Attorney

Your first move should be to speak with an experienced dog bite attorney in your area. An attorney may be able to help prevent you from making mistakes early on that could damage your claim, as well as present your arguments in the best possible light in order to seek maximum compensation.

2. Investigation

After you have hired an attorney, they may be able to get to work on investigating the specifics of your claim. This step includes gathering your medical records and all other relevant documents and poring over and analyzing all of the available evidence.

3. Negotiation

After your attorney has thoroughly investigated your case, they may be able to begin negotiations with the other side and their insurance. An experienced attorney may be able to use their knowledge from past cases to understand what a fair value for your injuries might be and argue persuasively for that amount.


An important question for any dog bite victim after their attack is, “how much is my case worth?” The compensation that you may be eligible to receive is based on a few different factors, including your economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages compensate a victim for things like medical bills and other costs that they may have had to pay as a result of their injuries. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, which can be physical, mental, or emotional.

Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case


For dog bite claims, there will typically be an associated statute of limitations in your state. The statute of limitations is the legal term for how long you have to file a claim after your incident. For example, if the statute of limitations in your state is two years, then you have two years from the date of the attack to file your claim. Statutes vary from state to state, so speaking to an attorney as quickly as possible after your accident may help prevent your case from being barred due to untimeliness.


Zinda Law Group understands that the period after a dog attack can be extremely stressful for you and your family, and we stand ready to assist you with your claim. In addition, we don’t believe that a victim should need to worry about being able to afford legal representation, which is why we use a no-win, no-fee policy—you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case.

If you or a family member has suffered a dog bite, call (800) 863-5312 to schedule a free consultation with a dog bite lawyer.

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