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Animal Liability: What to Do When Your Dog Bites Someone

If your dog bites someone, is it reasonable to expect that the incident won’t cause a lawsuit? Decades ago, the answer might have been a no, if the victim’s injuries weren’t severe. Today, however, dog aggression that causes a fatality or grisly mutilation gets a lot of media coverage. The Internet is full of photos, videos, and personal accounts of these attacks. This high visibility and ready access to law firm websites specializing in dog bites increase your liability risk should your dog bite anyone outside of your family.


If your dog bites someone, how you respond to the incident can strongly influence the victim’s decision on seeking litigation. Here are four suggestions on what to do:

  1. Avoid Arguments
    • People respond in different ways after they are bitten. Some may become argumentative and say upsetting things. Avoid getting drawn into arguments. The heated emotion may incite your dog to bite again and may predispose the victim to take you to court. Regardless of the victim’s emotions, yours should be one of concern for the other’s welfare.
  2. Suggest Medical Help
    • Ask if the person wants a ride to the hospital and offer to help pay for medical attention. If the victim has health insurance, offer to pay the deductible. Otherwise, be prepared to pay for the medical costs. This will make the person less inclined to seek legal action. Remember, it was your dog that caused this person’s injury.
  3. Exchange Contact Information
    • This may be required in your area. If not, you should do so in any case because it may be seen as an attempt to hide your identity and could work against you in court.
  4. Provide Proof That Your Dog’s Rabies Vaccination Is Current
    • This spares the victim of rabies treatment and reduces the length of your dog’s quarantine.


While the above suggestions will help defuse a dog bite incident, the victim may seek legal action against you in any case. Second thoughts or the advice of others can change her mind. Make sure you have animal liability insurance. Don’t automatically assume your home owners policy covers your dog. Carefully look through the policy for exclusions against certain dog breeds and against dogs with a bite history. Are the policy limits sufficient? If your policy comes up short, contact us at Xinsurance.