Because of the possibility that a dog attack can lead to criminal prosecution, generally you should refrain from making any statements as to who owned the dog, what happened, where it happened, and anything else about the incident. However, there are circumstances where you are required to give information. If so, be sure that it is the truth.
When dog owners give statements, they often provide inaccurate information. The biggest problem defending a dog bite claim is not necessarily the dog attack or the severity of the bite, but the untruthful statements made by the dog owner. Owners frequently misstate how the attack happened and the dog’s history of biting. This ultimately can hurt you and your dog. Consider this scenario:
- The owner tells her insurance company that her dog has never bitten anyone
- The insurance company refuses to make an adequate settlement offer, thinking that the victim must have provoked the dog
- The victim retains an attorney who is knowledgeable about dog bite cases, and conducts a thorough investigation that reveals the dog’s history of biting
- Instead of making a claim for simple negligence or violation of the dog bite statute, the attorney requests additional damages to punish the dog owner for keeping a dangerous dog
Now the insurance company really doesn’t want to settle! The claim becomes a lawsuit, and the lawsuit starts taking up the dog owner’s time. Eventually the truth comes out.
Keep in mind that you should not make statements about the incident until you know that there can be no criminal consequences. Generally, you should contact an attorney familiar with the criminal aspects of dog bites.