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What are my rights after a dog attack?

Louisa, VA |

Thursday night my friend and I were walking my dog. A 40lb dog attacked my 7.5lb dog while we were walking. It took all the strength my friend and I had to pull off the dog and detach it from mine. My dog was hurt pretty bad, I was also bit during the process, but my wound is very superficial. However, I’m 6 months pregnant, so I needed to make sure their dog was up to date on all its shorts. Luckily is it up to date on it's shots. After I took my dog to the vet I stopped by the house to discuss everything with the people who owned the dog, the man answered, said some rude comments, handed me a name and number of a lawyer and slammed the door in my face. I don't know what my rights are here. Do I need a lawyer? Do I need to take them to court? Can I contact their lawyer myself?

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Attorney answers 3


Did you file a police report? Did you file a complaint with the dog warden in your area? There is a good chance that the owner has violated any leash law that may be in effect. You should file a claim against the owner's homeowners or renters insurance for any of your bills or other expenses. Since you were not significantly injured, this may not warrant attorney involvement.

Legal Disclaimer:

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.



Thank you so much for your quick response. Yes I did file a report with animal control but they said nothing would happen, other than the dog has to be quarantined for 10 days to verify it doesn’t have rabies. After 10 days the animal control officer will go back out to check the dog, if the dog is clear of any sign of rabies, the owner no longer has to quarantine the dog. The only leash law in Louisa, VA is from April-June, this happened on Thursday March 29th, so no leash laws were violated. How can I file a claim against the homeowners insurance? If I contact the Lawyer whose number he gave me, do they have to provide me that information? I’m afraid they’ll just ignore my request.

Lars A. Lundeen

Lars A. Lundeen


You may want to call the attorney. Do not give any statements of any type to the attorney, but rather ask the attorney for the name of his client's homeowners or renters insurance and the claim number if one has been established. Then contact the insurance carrier or hire an attorney to contact them on your behalf. You are not under any obligation to give any statement to the insurance carrier, so do not allow them to record a statement without you obtaining an attorney to represent you during that process, if the attorney decides that giving a statement is a prudent thing to do (it usually is not).If the owner of the dog is a home owner, his mortgagee will have required him to have insurance on the property. If the attorney refuses to give you insurance information, you may need to have your attorney research the property records to determine the mortgagee and then contact the mortgagee, who certainly will have a record of the homeowners insurance and would probably be more than glad to provide it to you, since they do not want a judgment entered against their mortgagor which may impair their interests.



Does the lawyer have any legal obligation to give me the owners insurance information?


I agree with my colleague - first, you need to file a police report, then you should speak with a local attorney regarding your rights. Yes, you can contact the owner's attorney but be aware that the attorney works for the owner, not you, and will want the best outcome for his/her client. You want the best outcome for you. The Virginia Bar Association can give you a referral:

If we do not have a signed fee agreement I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice.


As noted, after getting yourself and your dog treated, your first step was to file a police report of the attack, with a copy to the animal control officer, if any. If, six days later, you still have failed to do so, act immediately and file one.

You will also need a detailed treatment and billing statement from your vet for the injuries to your dog, and from the ER/your doctor for any treatment you received. When your dog has received all necessary treatment for this attack, including all meds and follow-up visits, send a demand letter, including a copy of all the documents to the lawyer by Certified Mail.

Should the negligent owner fail to pay, your recourse is a lawsuit. Small Claims would likely have jurisdiction. Your state and local bar associations can assist you with referrals; they may also have "Dial a Lawyer" programs or a "Lawyer of the Day" at your local court.

The foregoing is for general information purposes and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.



I filed a report with Animal Control, I didn't realize I needed a police report as well. Should I contact Animal Control and ask for a copy of their report? Or just file a new report with the police?

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