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Close-up of a dog biting a man’s arm

Establishing Fault in a Dog Bite Case

By: Fred Moore | Jan 10, 2023

While the severity of dog bite injuries can range from minor to catastrophic, being attacked or bitten is a traumatic experience. In addition to ensuring you get the medical care you need, filing a dog bite claim can help hold responsible parties accountable and may prevent another bite from happening to someone else in the future. At Moore Law Firm, our dog bite lawyers have successfully handled all types of cases involving animal attacks for clients in the Mobile, AL, metro area. We know how to establish fault and fight to help injured victims recover maximum compensation for damages.

Alabama Dog Bite Laws

Depending on the circumstances, there are several ways a personal injury attorney may approach a dog bite lawsuit. In Alabama, most dog bite cases fall under the legal umbrella of strict liability. This means that a dog owner is considered liable for any injury their dog causes on their property, and in some cases beyond their property, as long as it was not provoked.

Recovering Damages in Dog Bite Cases

Under Alabama dog bite law, the types of damages an injured victim may recover depend on the specific circumstances of the claim. If someone is bitten by a dog that was previously friendly and the owner was unaware of any aggressive propensity, the injured party may only recover actual economic damages such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Other injury-related expenses

If a dog has previously bitten someone, the owner is aware of its dangerous tendencies, or an owner was particularly reckless or negligent, an injured person may be able to recover additional non-economic damages such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship and consortium

In most cases, dog bite claims are filed with the dog owner’s homeowners’ or renters’ insurance company. Unfortunately, insurers have little concern for injured victims – their ultimate goal is to pay as little as possible on dog bite claims. Obtaining fair compensation for non-economic damages can be challenging. That’s why it’s critical to find an experienced dog bite lawyer who understands how to accurately value your claim and negotiate aggressively on your behalf.

Establishing Fault in Cases Involving Aggressive Dogs

To recover non-economic damages, a dog bite attorney must provide evidence of previous aggressive or dangerous behavior, which could include:

  • Previous bites
  • Chasing or snapping at people
  • Jumping on people
  • Attacks on other animals

If a dog was running loose or the owner’s actions were negligent in another way, you may or may not be entitled to non-economic damages. The specific situation and local ordinances like leash laws can also affect the types of damages you may be entitled to recover.

Building a Dog Bite Case in Alabama

The nuances of dog bite law in Alabama are complex. A personal injury attorney will know how to thoroughly investigate a dog bite case and collect relevant evidence. To establish fault and prove liability your dog bite lawyer will:

  • Identify the dog’s owner
  • Investigate the dog’s history
  • Gather evidence

Your dog bite attorney also will evaluate the renters’ or homeowners’ insurance and the personal assets of the owner to determine whether they have the resources to cover any damages.

Investigating Dog Bite Cases

To build a solid case, it’s important to obtain evidence that backs up an injured victim’s claim. If you’re bitten by a dog, it’s crucial to seek medical attention right away and take photos of your injuries. Common types of evidence in dog bite cases include:

  • Photographs or video of the attack, your injuries, and the scene
  • Torn or bloody clothing and other damaged property
  • Medical records
  • Witness statements

In Alabama, certain counties and municipalities have banned breeds such as the pit bull, rottweiler, Presa Canario, and wolf-dog. Depending on the jurisdiction, these laws can be a vital factor when establishing fault and recovering damages in a dog bite claim.

If one of these breeds of dog attacks you in a jurisdiction where they are banned, the owner may face criminal charges in addition to shouldering civil liability. Emily’s Law, which was passed by the Alabama legislature in 2018, also allows criminal charges against owners whose dogs have been designated as dangerous.

It’s Important to Act Fast After a Dog Bite

In Alabama, the statute of limitations to file a dog bite lawsuit is two years. However, contacting a dog bite attorney as soon as possible gives you a better chance of recovering maximum compensation for damages such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Wage loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Punitive damages if warranted

It’s also vital to see a doctor or go to the ER to get treatment and document the incident while it’s still fresh in your mind. Memories fade, and valuable evidence may no longer be available as time passes. An Alabama dog bite attorney can evaluate your case, figure out who’s at fault, and develop a specific legal strategy based on the circumstances surrounding your claim.

Contact Our Dog Bite Lawyers in Mobile, AL

Dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone. Over the past 30 years, the personal injury attorneys at Moore Law Firm, based in Mobile, AL, have provided legal support to more than 15,000 clients throughout Alabama. To schedule a free consultation with a Mobile dog bite attorney, call us at 251-445-7602 or contact us online today.