Can You Sue a Dog Owner Even If It’s Minor Dog Bite?

Can You Sue a Dog Owner Even If It’s Minor Dog Bite?

November 14, 2022 Off By Glespynorson

A dog bite can be an accident. It can also be a simple mistake, like when a child’s dog bites his or her own owner. However, sometimes the person who owns the dog knows the animal is dangerous and fails to do anything about it. When this happens, you may have grounds for filing a lawsuit against that person, even if the damage was minor!

Types of Dog Bites

When a dog injures you, it’s important to know the type of bite you suffered. A dog bite can be minor or severe. The difference between the two is crucial because it will determine whether you can legally sue the dog owner and his/her insurance company for compensation.

If a dog has bitten you, you might want to become familiar with the 6 levels of dog bites according to the Dunbar scale, devised by Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian and canine behaviorist. These include:

  • Level 1, where the dog will only show dominant expression but not touch the skin.
  • Level 2, where the dog’s teeth will come in contact with the skin but not puncture it.
  • Level 3, where the dog’s teeth will puncture the skin, and there will be four holes, indicating a single bite. The hole will be around half of the length of the canine’s tooth.
  • Level 4, where there are more than one and up to four bites from a single attack. At least one of the holes will be around half the length of the canine’s tooth.
  • Level 5: A concerted, repeated attack with no signs of stopping leading to multiple level 4 bites.
  • Level 6: An attack leading to the death of the victim.

Should I Sue for a Minor Dog Bite Accident?

A few factors must be considered before deciding whether to file a lawsuit if you were involved in a dog bite accident. These include:

  • Do you need an attorney? If so, your attorney will help assess your case and determine whether or not it would be worth taking the time and money involved in filing a lawsuit. If you live in Las Vegas, Nevada, it’s best to hire a local dog bite lawyer who knows the laws and has experience with these cases.

For example, in Las Vegas, Nevada, the dog owner can mount a defense case if your actions were over 50% responsible for the bite. A dog bite attorney in Las Vegas will be able to explain Nevada’s dog bite laws, the legal process for pursuing compensation, and the types of damages available in a successful case.

  • How much is it worth? If the other party has insurance, they may offer some financial compensation without filing suit. That said, if they’re claiming it was your fault and/or they offer low settlement amounts, then a lawyer could help ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries and damages.

In 2021, more than one-third of homeowners’ liability claims were for injuries caused by dogs, according to the Insurance Information Institute, which reported that $881 million was paid toward these claims.

What to Do After a Dog Bite Incident?

Here are the steps you should take:

  • Seek medical attention immediately. The first thing you should do after a dog bite is to seek immediate medical attention. One in five people bitten by dogs requires medical attention, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. If possible, take photos of the wound and any visible bruising before you go to the hospital.
  • Get the dog owner’s information. It’s vital that you get as much information about your attacker as possible. If it were an unlicensed dog, its breed would be crucial for future legal proceedings.
  • File a police report if necessary and obtain witness statements from anyone who saw what happened or helped in any way after the attack occurred. All this documentation will serve as evidence in case someone sues them for their role during or after an incident involving domestic pets attacking people without their owners’ knowledge or consent.

Dog Bite Statutes in the United States

Dog bite statutes vary by state, but most states follow one of two general guidelines:

  • The dog’s owner or keeper is strictly liable for any damage or injury caused by the dog. If you are injured, you can sue your neighbor even if he/she didn’t know that their dog was dangerous and had no reason to believe it would bite someone. For example, if your neighbor’s dog bites you when walking down their driveway and you’re an adult who has never interacted with the animal before. This situation fits this statute perfectly.
  • A “one-bite rule” applies in some jurisdictions and usually stipulates that an owner/keeper cannot be held strictly liable unless the victim was attacked more than once. So if a friend stops over unannounced and does not let their dogs out of the house so they can play with them, you might not be able to hold them responsible under this law because there were no prior signs of aggression from the animal in question.

Filing a Minor Dog Bite Lawsuit

If a dog has bitten you, it is essential to contact your local attorney. The attorney will be able to assist you in filing a lawsuit and will also help with gathering evidence, which is necessary if you hope to win your case.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, under the law, dog owners are liable for any injuries a dog caused when the owner knew that the dog tended to cause that kind of injury, failed to use reasonable care in keeping the dog from causing an injury, or allowed the dog to run loose.

To successfully file a minor dog bite lawsuit, it’s important that you document any injuries suffered during the incident. You’ll also need proof that the owner was negligent and responsible for those injuries. This may include:

  • Pictures of the bite mark(s)
  • A written account of what happened (written by someone other than yourself)
  • Records from doctors visits or medical bills


The answer to this question is yes. It’s important to note, though, that it may not be worth it for you to sue a dog owner if the injury caused by his or her pet was minor. That’s because suing someone can be expensive and time-consuming.

But suppose your injuries are severe enough for medical treatment. In that case, it may be worth hiring an attorney specializing in dog bite cases to help recover compensation from the dog owner’s homeowner insurance policy or even their pocketbook directly.