Is your case doomed if your only witness was the dog that bit you? Not necessarily. Eyewitnesses are not the only ways to prove a dog bit you. We reached out to some legal experts to see what other proof they recommend gathering in a dog bite case. Keep reading to learn more.
Teeth Marks can be Matched by Forensic Investigators
Circumstantial evidence is just as valuable as direct witness evidence. You won’t always have a smoking gun, slam dunk dog bite liability case.
Eyewitnesses are rare in most dog bite cases. Seeing the attack is not the only way to witness one, however. You can perceive the attack on your child, for example, when you hear them scream like a dog barks and snarls, ripping into their skin and limbs with sharp canine teeth, etc.
That’s one way. But when there are zero witnesses to ANYTHING in the vicinity, what do you do?
As an expert Los Angeles dog bite lawyer, we have deployed multiple evidentiary methods using the California rules of evidence.
For one, circumstantial evidence of prior complaints, images of dug holes under backyard fences, evidence of prior similar incidents, complaints about the dogs, etc.
For example, if police or neighbors showed up and there is a loose dog (no leash) with blood in its mouth, this is called evidence. The teeth marks can be matched by police forensic investigators, and any statements uttered excitedly to the police or others after the animal attack (by the dog bite victim) remains highly credible as identifying statements, including what happened, were all said under the stress and excitement of the attack.
Other direct and indirect evidence may exist to assist you in proving the attack under California’s strict liability dog bite laws. Only a highly trained lawyer can assist in gathering all sources of evidence possible and in executing the liability laws on you or your loved one’s behalf.
Involve Animal Control
Whenever a dog bite occurs, you should immediately contact animal control and seek medical treatment. Animal control will do an investigation and write up a report on the incident. They often have records to show if the dog previously attacked another person and will determine if the dog was vaccinated for rabies.
It is also important when bitten by a dog to take pictures of the injuries, as they offer forensic value to show a jury the severity of the attack.
Last, you want to document any information you can get on the owner or address of where the dog lives to know who may be responsible.
Document Everything About the Injury
The most important thing for you to do is to document the injury. Take several clear photographs of the bite and retain any receipts from hospital care or treatment expenses. These will help you substantiate the injury. You should also contact the dog’s owner in good faith and try to work it out peaceably. If they won’t cooperate, you may need to report the injury to law enforcement.
If you believe the dog is a danger to others in the neighborhood, and especially to children, you may need to contact animal control.
Prior Attacks of the Same Dog are Evidence
If you don’t have eyewitnesses to support your dog bite case, you could use evidence of prior attacks of the same dog to further claim this as owner’s negligence. If his or her dog has attacked other people before you, this only indicates that he or she has not been cautious of the harm his or her dog could inflict.
This also means that he or she may not have made the necessary measures to prevent future attacks. Previous attacks could be CCTV videos or photos of the attack. A list of names of people who were attacked may suffice your claim of the owner’s negligence.
This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.