Even if you are in a strict liability state, it always is useful to prove that the dog bit someone before it bit your client. One of the best ways of proving it is the official record of the agency or organization that enforces the animal control laws where the dog lived prior to your accident. Here’s how to get that evidence.
- Send the interrogatories that are included in Dog Bite Litigation Forms for Plaintiffs’ Attorneys. At least send the ones that ask for the age of the dog, all places where the dog has lived, all places where the defendants have lived, and the contact information for all prior owners of the dog.
- The answers will provide you with addresses. Find out who does animal control for each of those addresses — city agencies or humane societies. Get the phone number for each. Call each and speak with a supervisor. Ask him or her whether there are any records on the dog, and to whom a subpoena should be directed. Ask whether they require anything with the subpoena, such as a check for copy charges.
- If he or she tells you that there are records on the dog, ask whether they indicate a history of aggression toward people. Should the answer be yes, find out who can testify to that (i.e., was it a single officer who wrote the reports). Find out what the arrangements should be to take that officer’s deposition. Also ask to speak with that officer, right away or at least prior to the deposition, so that you can further evaluate whether to depose him or her.
Remember that you should never stop with the animal control records. There are a lot of other people who always know as much or more than the law enforcement authorities. The interrogatories included in Dog Bite Litigation Forms for Plaintiffs’ Attorneys force the defendants to give you those names and addresses. The litigation forms also include a handy list of potential witnesses in every case, which you can use as a checklist.