Can You Sue a Dog Owner for a Dog Bite?

dog bite lawyer milwaukee WI

A dog bite can be quite a harrowing experience for the victim. At the very least, it is painful and upsetting. At worst, the wounds could be severe and have a significantly negative impact on his or her life. Many dog bite victims wonder if legal action can be taken against the animal’s owner. A Milwaukee personal injury lawyer with experience handling cases involving dog bites can review your case and offer legal guidance. In the meantime, we invite you to read the following brief article detailing what steps can be taken should you sustain a dog bite.

Should You Take Legal Action?

Many attorneys believe the answer to this question is, “It depends.” The settlement process involves several steps. Though it is always best to contact an attorney for legal advice, the following are general guidelines for steps to take after getting hurt by a dog:

  1. A dog bite victim will first need to contact the animal’s owner. If the victim knew the owner or the owner was present at the time of the incident, this should be easy. However, if the attack happened out of the victim’s neighborhood, or the owner was not there at the time of the attack, the victim might need assistance from their local police department or animal control agency.
  2. Once the victim contacts the owner, he or she should author a letter highlighting pertinent facts relating to the attack, including, but not limited to:
    1. A description of exactly what happened, where the incident took place, and why the victim feels the owner’s pet was at fault.
    2. Clearly specify the injuries he or she sustained and the damages sought in return. Damages could be awarded for hospital or doctor bills following the attack, lost wages, future medical expenses such as therapy and pain and suffering.
    3. Offer a fair deadline by which time he or she would like the matter to be resolved.
    4. A polite, but firm warning stating that if the issue is not resolved by a specific date and time, he or she might consider moving forward with a lawsuit.
  3. If the matter has not been resolved after following the above steps, contact a personal injury attorney. However, there is no reason to delay if you would like an attorney to handle the process for you from the beginning.

What Happens Should You Need to Go to Court?

Many dog bite cases are adjudicated in small claims courts. However, if the victim’s injuries are more severe and he or she seeks more significant compensation, the cases may be tried elsewhere. Such circumstances might be dictated by the dog bite statutes established by the victim’s home state or municipality. In more serious instances, a victim should speak with an attorney experienced in dog bite cases.

What Will the Victim Need to Prove Should His or Her Case End up in Court?

If the plaintiff’s (victim’s) case goes to court, he or she will be required to convince a judge of several things in order for a favorable outcome. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The individual being sued (defendant) is the animal’s rightful owner.
  • His or her injuries were caused by the dog bite.
  • The attack happened in a public venue.
  • The damages sought are the direct result of the injuries caused by the dog bite.


Most dog bite cases end in settlements. However, if you have been the victim of an animal attack, please feel free to contact us. One of our attorneys will review your case and offer an opinion on what may be the best way to proceed.

Hickey & Turim, SC Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, SC for their insight into personal injury practice.