Another Dog Bit My Dog. Who Pays the Vet Bills?

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Laura Schaefer

If your dog was attacked by another dog, seek veterinarian help as soon as possible to prevent further injury. Dogs are considered personal property in the eyes of the law, so compensation is difficult to receive besides medical bills. Even so, you may file a claim against the other owner’s insurance policy to recover further damages.

Because of your dog’s legal status, it’s difficult to receive other forms of compensation like emotional distress from the accident. LegalASAP does not handle claims involving only property damage or dog injuries. Only if another dog attacked your dog and you were hurt on the scene, then you may qualify for a personal injury claim.

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Can I Sue if Another Dog Attacks My Dog?

It can be difficult to sue if another dog attacks your dog due to their status as property under U.S. law. Even so, you may qualify for a claim if you prove the other owner was at-fault for your dog’s injuries.

There are specific cases where the other owner possesses more liability for the dog bite accident than normal:

  • If the other owner’s pet is considered a “dangerous dog” under your state’s laws, they may be liable for veterinarian bills and other damages from the accident.
  • If their dog was considered dangerous and your dog had to be put down due to their injuries, they may be liable for the original worth of your pet.

You may also sue for negligence if you were involved and injured in the incident. At that point, you’ll need to file a personal injury claim and get compensated for your injuries and any damages to your property.

You can also sue in small claims court if the at-fault dog owner refuses to pay your vet bills or denies your insurance claim. However, small claims courts have limited jurisdiction over civil cases, and you may not get compensated for the damages you sustained.

How to Prove The Other Dog is Liable

Proving the other dog’s liability for the accident is crucial when filing a lawsuit. Proving who’s at-fault in a dog bite incident can be cumbersome because it’s your word against theirs. Firstly, location matters in these scenarios and whether your dog was leashed during a walk or safely behind a secured fence with a beware of dog sign.

Gathering evidence to support your claim will have a significant impact on your case. This evidence could include:

  • Photographs and videos that recorded the damages done to your dog and your property.
  • Witness statements followed after the attack and what they saw during the attack.
  • Save documents such as police reports, vet bills, vet treatment summaries, and any paperwork that involved the dog attack incident.

Organize the evidence you gathered and get the other party’s contact information. Ask for their home insurance and policy number. The best scenario is if your homeowner’s insurance can cover the damages. If homeowner insurance doesn’t cover dog bite damages on your property, you’ll need compensation from the other party.

Types of Damages When a Dog Bites Another Dog

Types of damages you may have to deal with when a dog bites another dog are your injured pet and a heavy vet bill to pay. Other types of damages you may sustain after a dog bites your pet is:

  • The expense of medical treatment for your dog
  • X-rays
  • Vet bills
  • Surgery Costs
  • Medication and medical resources
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Reducing the market value of your dog

Your dog may be valuable outside of their role as a pet, and a dog bite may prevent them from doing their duties. For example, your pet may be a service dog whose “real market value” was affected by their injuries. They may have been a show dog whose injuries prevent them from performing the same as before.

  • Punitive Damages

A Jury could award you and punish the at-fault party for punitive damages to prevent grossly negligent behavior from happening again. You can seek compensation for losses by contacting an experienced attorney focused on dog bite laws and property damage.

States With Strict Dog Bite Liability Laws

The states with strict liability laws on dog bites may depend on whether the dog is on the property, leashed, provocation, etc. Other state laws are strict and will not excuse the one-bite rule.

States with strict dog bite laws are:

  • Alabama—Only is or on the owner’s property.
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado—Only for economic damages for severe injuries.
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana—Only for preventable injuries.
  • Maine—Only if the victim didn’t trespass onto the property.
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma—However, not in rural places and specific locations.
  • Oregon—Only towards economic damages.
  • Pennsylvania—Only for medical costs.
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia—Only if the dog is running at large.
  • Wisconsin

The above states listed hold a strict liability on dog bite laws, and some depend on the situations described.

Who Pays the Vet Bills After a Dog Bite?

The party who negligently started the attack is typically responsible for paying the vet bills after a dog bite. One example of negligence would be if the other party’s dog isn’t leashed and suddenly attacks your dog. The aggressor is responsible for causing damages and negligently letting the dog run at large.

The property owner is liable if the dog was behind a fence but somehow escaped and attacked another dog. The property owner did not safely keep the fence secure and allowed the dog to attack the dog outside their property.

These circumstances would depend on the dog bite laws in your state. Thus, seeking an experienced dog bite attorney can help determine who may be at-fault.

Sometimes homeowners insurance companies will not insure dog bite accidents caused by breeds classified as dangerous, like Pit Bulls and German Shepherds.

This depends on a case-by-case basis, but if the other owner does not have insurance to cover your damages, you may need to file a claim against the owner directly in Justice of the Peace Court.

Will the Other Dog Be Put Down?

It’s possible to have the other dog put down for causing harm to your dog, but these measures would be in cases of extreme negligence. The court would have to see how aggressively dangerous the other owner’s dog is by analyzing the evidence and damages your dog sustained.

Unfortunately, in some states, there is a strict liability in putting a dog down for their aggressive behavior. And more so if this was not their first attack and there were prior incidents that the dog had caused. The court could then have the dog euthanized for the safety of the public.

Depending on the state you live in, euthanasia laws for dogs will vary.

What if You Were Bit Protecting Your Dog?

You may file a personal injury claim and get compensation for your pain and damages if you were hurt when protecting your dog in the incident. The party responsible will have to pay for your medical costs and treatment. If they refuse, you can sue for compensatory damages sustained during the incident.

It could be tricky if the dog that harmed you may have done so out of self-defense for their owner. Or your dog may have provoked the other party’s dog into attacking. You may seek a dog bite lawyer to help you discern who is at-fault in these circumstances.

What to Do When a Stray Dog Attacks Your Dog

Sometimes, we find stray dogs roaming around when taking our dog on a walk. In cases where the stray dog attacks your dog,

  1. The first thing to do is stay calm and don’t panic.
  2. Don’t try to separate the dogs yourself, as that would leave you at risk for serious injury and infection.
  3. Distract the other dog at a distance by making noises, but don’t shout or make eye contact with the stray, as that would make the dog feel threatened.
  4. Call your dog away, or grab your dog on the leash and pull away.
  5. Walk away and don’t run, avoid eye contact, and use any physical barrier to hide behind (trash cans, trees, cars, etc.).

The best thing to do is keep calm and de-escalate the situation as much as possible. There’s not much to compensate for when attacked by a stray dog, so it’s best to protect yourself from these incidents.

Find an Attorney to Represent You and Your Dog

Find an attorney to represent you and your dog by filing a property damage claim. Even though LegalASAP may not protect you from accidents where your dog was bit by another dog, you may have gotten hurt on the scene. Any damages you personally sustained in a dog bite accident may qualify you for a personal injury claim.

Laura Schaefer

Laura Schaefer is the author ofThe Teashop Girls,The Secret Ingredient, andLittler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.