Investigation of dog bite incident

The preliminary investigation of a dog bite case covers the following basic information:

  • Address where attacked happened. This should be the actual street address. If the attack was on property that did not have a street address, then the name of the park or other public place as well as the closest street address.
  • Description of dog.
  • Name and address of owner of dog.
  • Name and address of person who had custody or control of dog at the time of the accident.
  • In a one bite state, information regarding the dog’s prior history of viciousness toward people, and the dog owner’s knowledge of prior viciousness toward people.

The preliminary investigation needs to be done by the family of the victim, unless the stakes are extremely high, in which event an attorney or private investigator (or both) must be involved.

The next phase of the investigation usually involves details about the attacking dog. For guidelines, see Investigating the Attacking Dog.

There may be several other phases of the investigation: ownership of the dog, negligence on the part of landlord and store owners, etc. An attorney has to direct these phases of the investigation or they can spin out of control, costing time, money and effort, and draining emotions.

Retaining a private investigator is a process involving the following steps:

  • Locating an investigator who is geographically close enough to the scene and parties
  • Reviewing the potentially liable parties, witnesses, and locations to determine whether the investigator has conflicts of interest
  • Defining the scope of the investigation, including its time limits, budget (at least for the first phase), equipment and special skills needed (i.e., videography and photography), and other deliverables
  • Specifying exactly who is going to perform the services (i.e., whether they can be performed by an employee or subcontracted to another agency)
  • Reaching an agreement that covers the fee, whether there is compensation for travel, and who pays for what expenses
  • Drafting an appropriate written agreement
  • Verifying the investigator’s credentials (i.e., his state license and standing)

In California, for example, investigators can be easily searched by using the following resources of the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services:

  • Look up the name of the agency
  • Look up the name of the owner or qualified manager
  • Find all investigators in a city or county