Animal attacks can be physically and emotionally devastating, especially when the victim is a small child. These events can cause extensive personal injuries, potentially resulting in permanent disfigurement and expensive medical treatment. In many cases, a personal injury attorney can help you collect compensation for these losses, but what if your actions contributed to the attack? Depending on the laws of the state, your behavior can have a significant impact on collecting damages.
Strict Liability vs. Negligence
Like other personal injury actions, dog bites are covered by state law, with significant variations between jurisdictions. In some states, animal owners are held to a strict liability standard, meaning they’ll be responsible regardless of whether you can prove they acted negligently. Others require victims to demonstrate carelessness on the part of the owner. To determine whether you can file a claim, have a local personal injury attorney evaluate the case and identify the legal options.
In Alabama, for example, dog owners are held to strict liability if the attack occurred on their property and was unprovoked. If the bite occurred elsewhere, you must prove that the owners knew the dog was dangerous or failed to follow local animal control laws. However, if the defendant can show that you provoked the attack, you may be barred from collecting damages.
Alabama and several other states follow the principle of contributory negligence, which bars plaintiffs from collecting damages if they were also negligent. If the dog owner can prove that you were harassing their animal, failed to observe warning signs, or put your finger through a fence, you may not be eligible for compensation, regardless of the extent of the injuries. However, the statutes are complex so a skilled personal injury lawyer could still help you file a claim.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, the personal injury team at The Gil Law Firm will defend your rights and hold the negligent owners responsible. Since 2000, they’ve been providing victims throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Florida with in-depth legal expertise and aggressive representation in a broad range of practice areas. Visit their website or call (334) 673-0100 to speak with an attorney. Follow their Twitter for more tips and updates.