What Is The Statute Of Limitations For A Dog Bite?

Dog-related injuries can be difficult to pursue based on the context of your injuries. However, if the injuries the dog has caused requires treatment or hospitalization, pressing charges might be necessary to cover the fees associated with the injuries the animal caused. If an individual waits to file a lawsuit with a Hollywood dog bite lawyer, how long do they have to file a claim?

How to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit

Dog bite lawsuits are a form of personal injury lawsuit, so they fall under negligence law. This means you would be filing a claim on the grounds that the dog’s owner was negligent, causing your injuries. In a dog bite lawsuit, you possess the burden of proof. You must not only file your claim, but provide different forms of evidence that prove the following:

  • The dog’s owner owed you a duty. This duty was to keep their dog under control in such a way that the dog is not capable of inflicting injury.
  • The dog’s owner did not fulfill this duty. Allowing a dog to run loose and cause injury constitutes this breach of duty.
  • The owner’s breach in duty directly contributed to the incident that caused the claimant’s injury. This means that the injury must be traceable back to the incident with the dog. Typically, bite marks are fairly straightforward proof.
  • The incident caused by the owner’s breach in duty resulted in verifiable damage. Medical records are useful as evidence in this aspect of proving negligence.

In a majority of U.S. states, you can file a claim even if a dog does not directly bite you. If a dog causes any type of accident as a result of owner negligence, you can still file a lawsuit. For example, a dog that gets loose and causes a car accident could place liability on its owner for the damage it causes.

Statute of Limitations

Each state imposes a statute of limitations that dictates how long a claimant can wait before filing their claim. These limitations are in place for several reasons. If a claimant waits to file a claim, they risk their evidence going stale. Witness testimony might no longer be possible, the dog owner in question might move, or someone may alter evidence – a number of different factors could change if you wait years to file a claim.

Limitations are also in place to prevent an individual from holding the threat of lawsuit over someone else’s head. In this way, a statute of limitations also serves as a way to even the playing field for would-be defendants.

This differs between states, but on average the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is between one and six years, though the typical amount of time is two to three years. With this being such a significant gap, it is crucial to check your own state’s laws before choosing to wait to file your claim.

What Happens After the Deadline?

After you miss a filing deadline, the potential defendant could request a motion to dismiss a case. Courts often grant this dismissal because the claimant had several years to address the issue. Therefore, they forego their upper hand in the claims process. There are several exceptions to this, based in extenuating circumstances:

  • If the injured party was under 18 when  the injury occurred, they can file a claim the day of their 18th birthday. Depending on the state, this individual’s timer begins when they turn 18 – some only allow one full year for the individual to file their claim.
  • Active-duty status in the military does not count as time spent “on the clock” in some states.
  • Disabled individuals who aren’t capable of filing a claim can file once a physician rules that they are competent.

The exceptions to statutes of limitations don’t fit the context of a lot of personal injury cases. Because most claimants have to abide by their state’s statute, filing as soon as possible is always the best route to take.