If you’ve been attacked or injured by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages and injuries. Even if you already brought criminal charges against the dog’s owner, you may still be able to bring forward a civil suit. In fact, because the standards of proof are different, you can even bring forward a civil suit if you lost the criminal case.
A civil suit is a legal process where you hold someone financially liable for the injuries and distress they have caused to you. However, if you want to initiate a civil suit, you need the right lawyer. Ideally, you should look for a dog bite attorney who meets the following criteria.
Dog bite laws vary a lot from state to state. Many states, such as New Hampshire and Massachusetts, are strict liability states, meaning that the owner is almost always liable when their dog attacks. But in other states, liability can be harder to prove. To ensure you get the best settlement for your case, you need a lawyer who is experienced handling cases in your state.
In most cases, if a lawyer practices in a certain state that means they have passed the bar exam for that state, and by extension, they understand the laws in that state. However, some states offer reciprocity, meaning that if a lawyer passes the bar in one state, they may become automatically licensed to practice in a neighboring state. To ensure you’re obtaining the best legal counsel, make sure they are experienced practicing law in your state.
In addition to ensuring your lawyer has experience in your state, you should also ensure that they are experienced with dog bite cases in particular. Armed with experience, a lawyer knows how to fight common defenses from the dog owner’s attorneys. They also have a network of quality expert witnesses they can call on, and those witnesses can be essential for linking your injuries to the dog attack and for establishing the pain and suffering you’re likely to experience due to certain injuries.
Experienced dog bite attorneys also know how to evaluate your injuries, damages, and pain and suffering in a way that gets you the best settlement possible for your situation. In contrast, an inexperienced attorney may fail to note all the damages you suffered from the attack.
Dog attacks can lead to physical disabilities, but they can also cause untold pain and suffering, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a long-term fear of dogs. All of these elements can affect your life in serious ways, and you need a lawyer who understands how to bring all of these conditions to the court’s attention.
There are a lot of lawyers out there, and to ensure you’re hiring the best dog bite attorney, you should look for lawyers who are involved with professional groups and who receive high ratings from third-party organizations. Ideally, the lawyer you hire should be part of the state bar association and county bar associations. They should also be members of state organizations such as the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and federal groups such as the American Association for Justice.
To learn more about prospective attorneys, you may want to look at sites such as Avvo and Super Lawyers. Both of these sites have profiles and client satisfaction ratings which can be helpful in your research process.
After you’ve narrowed down your options to a handful of lawyers, you should look at how they charge their clients. Most quality dog bite attorneys work on a contingency basis. They start with a free consultation, and during that meeting, they give you a sense of how your case is likely to progress. If your case is strong, the lawyer typically agrees to work on a contingency basis, which means there’s no charge to you unless there is a recovery.
If you or a loved one have been attacked by a dog, we may be able to help. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we have extensive experience guiding our clients through dog bite cases, as well as multiple other types of personal injury lawsuits. To learn more or to set up a free case evaluation, contact us today. We can help you get the justice you deserve.