Should you sue a friend after a dog bite?
If a dog has bitten you, there’s a good chance you know the perpetrator. A whopping 77 percent of bites are perpetrated by the family’s dog or the dog of a friend or family member.
This can put you in a difficult situation. You need to collect money damages to pay for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Your recovery depends on it. But if you’re like many of our clients, you don’t want to sue someone you know and love.
Fortunately, the reality of suing a friend or family member isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as you might think. You can file a claim and still maintain the relationship — people do it all the time–because suing a friend over a dog bite doesn’t have to bring any harm or negative consequences on your friend personally.
Here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to move forward with a claim:
1 | Your Loved One Won’t Have to Pay the Damages
You are probably afraid to sue because you don’t want to cause financial hardship to someone you care about. Dog owners are usually covered by insurance policies, such as homeowners or renters’ insurance. When you sue for a dog bite, the insurance company pays, not the dog owner.
Suing your friend won’t cause them any financial hardship–but it will protect you from financial hardship. Your friend will surely understand that. No true friend would want you to drown in debt or be forced to settle for a subpar recovery because you couldn’t afford medical care. Once your friend understands how a dog bite lawsuit works, they will be happy for the insurance company to step in.
2 | You Don’t Have to Place Blame
You also likely worry about having to argue that your friend or family member was negligent, and that’s why you suffered injuries. Many states have strict liability laws. These laws essentially state that owners are automatically liable when their dogs bite people. Under these laws, you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries–without saying that your friend or loved one is a bad pet parent.
3 | The Dog Likely Won’t Be Euthanized
If the dog isn’t normally aggressive, you’re probably worried about him being euthanized as a result of the lawsuit. Even serious dog bites don’t automatically result in euthanasia.
The more likely outcome, if the dog is deemed vicious (and even that is a big “if”), is the court imposing restrictions on the dog to keep the public safe. Because it’s unlikely that the dog will be euthanized, you can move forward without worrying about the fate of your friend’s beloved pet.
4 | Your Friend Is Unlikely to Face Legal Consequences
The idea of your friend facing legal consequences is also enough to give you pause. You can’t help but worry that your loved one will have to pay a stiff penalty or maybe even do time in jail as a result of the dog bite.
Fortunately, dog owners rarely face criminal charges. Generally, a dog owner would have to be extremely negligent or have ignored a previous court order for criminal charges to be considered.
Your lawyer can review the evidence, so you’ll know where your loved one stands in the eyes of the law.
Should You Sue?
Now you know that it’s OK to sue your friend — but should you? There are three things to consider when determining if you should file a dog bite lawsuit.
- First, did you suffer serious injuries that impact the quality of your life? This could include loss of mobility, surgery, or time in the hospital.
- Next, are you dealing with emotional trauma as a result of the injuries? Do you feel anxious, depressed, or think about the attack all the time?
- Finally, are you suffering financially because of the dog bite? This can include medical bills and lost wages. You also might be concerned about your loss of earning potential due to the extent of your injuries.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to explore a lawsuit. An experienced dog attack attorney will review your case to see if you should make a claim. If so, your attorney will help you navigate the process.
Your friendship is more likely to suffer if you don’t move forward with a lawsuit than if you decide to sue your friend. The frustration and resentment that can develop when you’re saddled with medical bills and dealing with lost wages could rip your friendship apart.
You shouldn’t have to choose between getting well and staying friends. Consulting with an attorney as part of a free, no-obligation case review allows you to explore your legal options and make the decision that best preserves your health, your financial future, and this treasured relationship.