How Bad Does A Dog Bite Have To Be To Sue?

No one wants to experience the trauma of a dog bite. Unfortunately, these incidents happen more often than we realize. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 4.5 million people in the United States experience dog bites annually.

Dog bites can occur at any time and in any place, whether it is a pet or a stray animal. You may be visiting a friend or walking through the neighborhood when an unexpected dog attack happens.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack, you may be wondering whether you have grounds to pursue legal action. In short, the answer depends on the specifics of your situation and the severity of the bite.

US Dog Bite Laws

Dog bite laws, like all personal injury laws, differ from state to state. For example, Utah has specific laws governing dog bite incidents and liability.

Under Utah’s strict liability law, a dog owner can be held liable if his or her dog bites someone. This means the owner can be responsible for the victim’s injuries even if the dog has never bitten anyone before and the owner has no prior knowledge of the dog’s aggression.

Exceptions to Owner Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Two exceptions to Utah’s strict liability law are when (1) the victim was trespassing on private property where the dog was kept or (2) that person was committing a crime. In either of these cases, the dog owner is not held liable.

Additionally, a dog owner may not be held liable if the victim was harassing or provoking the dog or the dog was being used by law enforcement. However, depending on the circumstances of the specific case, the victim may still be entitled to compensation.

Ultimately, to successfully sue a dog owner, the victim must prove the following elements:

  • The dog bit the victim and caused injury
  • The victim was in a public place or lawfully on private property
  • The defendant owned or was in possession of the dog

Factors Determining the Severity of a Dog Bite

The severity of a dog bite is a crucial factor in determining whether legal action should be taken. Not all dog bites require a lawsuit. Minor nips or scratches may not be considered serious harm. However, more severe injuries can allow a victim to get compensation from the dog’s owner.

Below are some of the key factors in determining the severity of a dog bite.

The depth of the wound

Superficial scratches from a dog’s teeth may sting and bleed but are usually not severe enough to warrant a lawsuit. However, deep puncture wounds that go through the skin and into the tissue can cause significant damage.

These injuries may require medical treatment like stitches or even surgery and may require medical treatment, stitches, or even surgery.

The location of the bite

Dog bites to sensitive and vital areas are considered severe and can lead to life-threatening complications.

Examples of these body parts include:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Genitals
  • Head
  • Neck
  • Torso

The extent of tissue damage

Depending on the strength of the dog that bit you, a bite can lead to serious internal damage. Dog bites from large breeds can cause the following injuries:

  • Tissue damage
  • Nerve injuries
  • Muscle or tendon tears
  • Bone fractures

The more significant the internal harm, the stronger your case for legal action will be.

Scarring and disfigurement

Severe dog bites can cause permanent scarring or disfigurement, which can have long-lasting physical and emotional impacts on the victim.

When it comes to proving your injuries in a dog bite lawsuit, scarring or disfigurement can be used in the case. The obvious cosmetic injuries suffered by a dog bite victim can strengthen a personal injury claim.

Ongoing pain and suffering

Beyond the physical injuries, dog bite victims often experience significant psychological trauma.

A dog bite victim may suffer from:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety around dogs
  • Intense phobia of dogs

Compensation for these non-economic damages may also be available.

When to Consider a Dog Bite Lawsuit

Given the complexity of dog bite laws and the many factors involved, it is best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. Lawyers can give you the best course of action after evaluating your case. However, there are general guidelines you can consider.

You might want to explore legal action if the dog bite resulted in the following:

  • Deep puncture wounds requiring stitches or surgery
  • Significant tissue damage, bone fractures, or nerve injuries
  • Scarring, disfigurement, or permanent disability
  • Substantial medical bills and lost wages
  • Severe pain, suffering, and emotional distress

Seeking Justice and Compensation After a Dog Attack

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

It is important to note that each state has a strict statute of limitations for dog bite cases. Victims typically have 2 to 3 years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Acting quickly to document the incident and your injuries is crucial.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the financial situation of the dog’s owner. Even if you have a strong case, when the owner has minimal assets or insurance coverage, it could be difficult to recover worthwhile compensation.

A consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer is always wise. Don’t let a devastating dog bite incident derail your life. Seek the justice and support you need to heal and move forward.

Facing a Dog Bite? Siegfried & Jensen Can Offer Legal Help

In Utah, the severity of a dog bite is not the only factor that determines whether you can sue someone. Important factors like the location of the attack, proof of dog ownership, and the statute of limitations are all crucial aspects to consider.

Dog bite incidents can be traumatic, but you don’t have to face the aftermath on your own. Reach out to the experienced team at Siegfried & Jensen. With our in-depth knowledge of dog bite law, we can help you understand your rights. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process of seeking the justice and compensation you deserve.

Safeguard your well-being and ensure a favorable outcome by having a trusted ally in your corner. Contact us anytime at (801) 845-9000 or through our online form to request a free case evaluation.

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.