How do I File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

N. Madison
N. Madison

The steps you’ll have to take to file a dog bite lawsuit may vary, depending on the jurisdiction in which you will file. In most places, however, you will need to act quickly to file before the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is reached. You will also need to obtain documentation of the dog bite and have the bite examined and treated by a doctor. You may then seek a lawyer’s help with filing the documents necessary to begin a dog bite lawsuit. In many places, the first form he will file with the court is called a summons and complaint.

Dog owners are legally liable for bite injuries inflicted by their dogs.
Dog owners are legally liable for bite injuries inflicted by their dogs.

One of the most important things to remember when you need to file a dog bite lawsuit is that it is critical to act quickly. Most jurisdictions have statutes of limitations on personal injury claims, including those related to dog bites. The statute of limitations on these types of claims varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If you commit to action soon after you have been bitten by a dog, however, you will likely be able to file long before you get close to the time limit.

Dog bites should be promptly reported, so as to protect against rabies infection.
Dog bites should be promptly reported, so as to protect against rabies infection.

It is important to have the dog bite documented if you intend to file a dog bite lawsuit. You may do this not only by informing the owner of the dog, but also by notifying the police. The police may create a report of the incident that may serve as evidence when your case is heard in court. You may also request statements and contact information from witnesses to the dog bite incident.

Medical documentation is also important when you plan to file a dog bite lawsuit. After you have been bitten, you will typically need to seek medical attention to ensure the wound is cared for properly. The doctors you see for care will create medical records that describe the bite wound and the treatment provided for it. You will usually need to obtain copies of these records for use in your dog bite lawsuit.

In most cases, it is prudent to seek an attorney’s help with filing a dog bite lawsuit. The attorney will usually help you gather the documents that will prove important in suing the owner of the dog. He will typically start the case by filing forms with the court that will hear your case. In many jurisdictions, the first form an attorney will file in this type of case is called a summons and complaint. This document is used to inform the defendant that you have filed a lawsuit, the reasons you filed, and the settlement amount you are seeking in the case.

It is important to note that you can begin a dog bite lawsuit without a lawyer by filing the required documents yourself; this is referred to as filing pro se. Most legal experts advise against filing without a lawyer, however. An experienced personal injury lawyer will typically know the ins and outs of filing dog bite lawsuits in your area, understand how to prepare your case to ensure the best chance of success, and have expertise with negotiating settlements. Additionally, he may help you avoid common pitfalls when it comes to pursuing compensation for your injuries.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- true, but a severe mauling means the amount sought will put the case outside of the jurisdiction for small claims court. Those courts, after all, are set up to settle minor, civil disputes.

In cases where damages are substantial, plaintiffs will usually head to a circuit court (or its equivalent). That means more formal court procedures and you will need a lawyer to help you navigate that maze.


A lot of these claims are decidedly minor, so filing a suit in small claims court will usually be sufficient to collect the appropriate judgment against the dog's owner. There are a lot of advantages to filing in small claims court. It is rare to bring a lawyer to those courts as the amounts awarded are usually too small to justify paying a lawyer. Also, filing fees are reduced and rules of evidence are relaxed because those courts are set up with the notion that amateurs will handle their own cases.

Post your comments
Forgot password?