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What Can You Do if You Are Bitten by a Friend’s Dog?

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In a best-case scenario, if your friend’s dog bit you it would be an awkward situation. Even if the dog is generally friendly and the skin isn’t broken, you may worry that your friend’s dog isn’t properly trained and your friend may blame you for provoking the animal. However, if the bite is more serious, this will present a new set of problems.

When a friend’s dog bites you and it requires medical attention, you may be hesitant to ask your friend to help cover your medical bills. In an ideal situation, your friend would offer without being asked. In the worst-case scenario, that wouldn’t happen and you’d end up having to file a case against your friend’s insurance or taking them to court. 

You may be tempted to let the bite go and cover the damages yourself so it doesn’t put a strain on or even end your friendship. What you may not realize is in most cases your friend won’t end up having to pay for your treatment out of their pocket at all. Their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance may cover your damages. 

Why Dogs Bite

One reason you may be hesitant to file a claim is because you’re afraid your friend will have to have their dog put down because it bit you. Unless the dog has attacked before, this is unlikely to happen.

There are many reasons dogs may bite, and most of them do not involve the dog being vicious and out of control. Some reasons a dog with no history of biting may suddenly bite include:

  • It is injured
  • It’s sick
  • It’s afraid
  • It’s defending its territory
  • It’s a mother dog protecting its puppies
  • It’s been startled or surprised

You may have been caught off-guard by the dog’s bite if the dog is usually friendly with you. The dog’s bite doesn’t mean the dog doesn’t like you. Any dog may show out-of-character behavior in the above scenarios. That’s why it’s always the dog’s owner’s responsibility to control it. Only the owner is responsible for the dog’s behavior.

What to Do if You’ve Been Bitten

Being bitten by a dog you know is the most common dog bite scenario for the simple reason that we are more likely to be around these animals. In this country, we have strong animal control compared to many other countries, so you are less likely to encounter a stray. 

One advantage of being bitten by a friend’s dog as opposed to a stranger’s dog or a stray is access to information. You can ask your friend for their dog’s vaccination records and eliminate the worry about whether or not the animal may have been exposed to rabies. 

If the bite hasn’t broken the skin or it’s just a minor wound, wash the area with soap and water. If it has broken the skin and it’s more serious, you’ll need to go to the doctor to get it checked out. You may want to bring the dog’s shot record to this appointment so the doctor can formally rule-out rabies exposure

Even if it’s your friend’s dog, you will still need to fill out a dog bite report with your county. This will protect others in the future in case the dog bites again. This paper trail helps the authorities to keep people safe from potentially vicious dogs, and it also helps dog bite victims to demonstrate that the dog has a history of biting. 

When a Lawsuit Is Unavoidable

If you’re ready to call a lawyer, click here for a free case evaluation. To have a successful case you must be able to prove the following conditions:

  • Your friend owns the dog
  • You were legally on private property when the bite happened at your house or a friend’s home
  • You were on public property when you were bitten, such as a dog park
  • The dog’s bite was the cause of your injury
  • Your injury was the cause of your damages

When the dog you know that bit you is your friend’s dog, it can be difficult to make the decision to pursue a lawsuit. You should consider doing so anyway. No matter who the dog’s owner is, in most cases they are still responsible for your injuries and any damages caused by their pet’s actions. 

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