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What Are Your Legal Options if a Street Dog Bites You?

— March 23, 2022

Court cases are expensive, and they are not always winnable. You might want to try negotiating with the liable party and see what you can settle for.

Street dogs are sometimes dangerous. Stray, abandoned, or feral dogs might have rabies. Even if they don’t, they can attack in packs, so if you ever have to cross paths with these dogs, you might risk getting bitten with severe consequences. No matter how cute and friendly some are, street dogs are unpredictable, and sometimes they can see you as prey, especially if they are hungry, frightened, or nervous. Street dog bites are very dangerous because the health risks are high, incurring equally high treatment costs for your injuries. Since they mostly belong to no one, you cannot sue an owner to pay for your economic or non-economic damages. So let’s see what you can do from a legal standpoint.

Seek Medical Attention

You need to go to the nearest emergency room for the best treatment for your injuries. In addition, it can save you from secondary infections. Ensure you document all the treatments you have undergone, together with the procedures done to you (stitches, for example) and medical recommendations. The medical documents will be very helpful when filing an injury claim against the liable party.

File a Police Report

After getting your wounds treated, you need to file a police report at the nearest police station. The police report is valuable evidence in your case against the liable party. Get this report and make sure it is complete with information regarding where the dog attack occurred, who else was there (if it is the case), and other details of what happened. A police report is important because the court will use it to determine liability. You can make a certain party liable for your injuries if you have enough evidence.

After you called the police at the scene or went to a station to file a report, it is wise to call Animal Control as soon as possible. You must involve this organization in your legal case too. When they catch the dogs or dogs that bit you, Animal Control will check for chips and localize the owners if there are any. Finding an escaped dog’s owner or sitter/walker will take you one step further in winning your personal injury claim. If the dog that bit you is someone’s pet, that person will want their dog back, even if they will both face consequences.

Visit a Lawyer

If a street dog has bitten you, you should chat with a personal injury lawyer for free. The law is tough on any owner who does not control or leash their dog or allow them to roam freely. On the other hand, if the dog has no apparent owner, your attorney will determine liability. In addition, a lawyer will help you if you want to file an injury claim against one or more possible liable parties:

  • the city or the locality where stray dogs bit you if the attack occurred on public property/land;
  • A manager from the local animal shelters if the dog in question was in the care of an animal shelter and escaped;
  • Managers of pet boarding facilities;
  • Dog sitters and walkers if you prove the dog was in the care of such person but escaped;
  • A private individual if the dog attack occurred on someone’s property. 

Several things will affect how much your claim will be worth:

  • First, the medical expenses you incurred from the injury.
  • The loss of income from not working due to this dog bite.
  • Any other losses from this dog bite, such as pain and suffering.

A lawyer will walk you through all the legal steps to ensure you are informed about legal options.

File a Civil Lawsuit

Dog bite on arm; image by Nicor, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.
Dog bite on arm; image by Nicor, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.

Dog bites can cause serious damage to your body, and you will want to make sure you have the right lawyer to help you go against the city. You want to be represented by a lawyer experienced in handling dog bite cases. A lawyer must have litigated similar cases before, so they know what steps to take. The attorney will also be part of the team to handle any negotiations with the dog owner (if it is the case) or with the animal shelter/ city. If it looks like you have little chance of winning, then a lawyer might recommend mediation or arbitration. On the other hand, you need an attorney to move fast and keep the statute of limitations for personal injury claims brought against a city or a locality. 


Court cases are expensive, and they are not always winnable. You might want to try negotiating with the liable party and see what you can settle for. A lawyer may be able to negotiate on your behalf by presenting certain evidence and making sure you are given appropriate compensation. The defendant may also want to settle the case if your lawsuit could harm them financially. These negotiations are confidential, and your lawyer will ensure you get a fair settlement.

In conclusion, street dogs could be a threat to anyone who comes in contact with them. The options listed above will help you claim compensation for any injuries sustained from being bitten by a street dog. A lawyer also helps in making sure you are given legal representation. The kinds of cases lawyers handle are different from person to person. Each case has its own specific set of facts and issues, so the lawyer should prepare themselves with all the evidence and witnesses for that injury case, so the client gets fully compensated for losses.

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