What is my legal recourse if my service dogs and I were attacked and severely injured by pitbulls?

I was walking on the sidewalk with my service dog and both of us were attacked by 2 pitbulls. One was unleashed and the other was leashed but overpowered its owner and joined the attack. The police were called and there were eye-witnesses around. I was hospitalized and my left hand was torn up and all of my service dogs legs were injured and the last one was torn up and her left hind-leg is immobilized. The veterinarian also stated that the reconstruction surgery would be around $5000 all together and my emergency cost will be around the same.

Asked on August 27, 2011 Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, if you have insurance which may cover--e.g. health insurance for you, possibly homeowner's or renter's insurance, if it will cover your dogs as your property--look to letting the insurer(s) pay.

Second, if you don't have adequate insurance, or to the extent the insurrance doesn't cover all your expenses, you may sue the pitbulls owner(s). People have an obligation to take reasonable precautions to prevent their animals from attacking others; if a dog was unleashed, that itself may be enough to establish liability; since pitbulls can be aggressive, the owner may have to do more than the owner of a different breed (e.g. take more precautions--like muzzles); and if there were any prior attacks by these dogs, then if the owner will almost certainly be liable for not taking stringent precautions.

For the amount of money at stake ($10,000), it would be well worth it to retain an attorney to help you.

The one kicker: if the dog's owner has little or no income or assets, even if you win, there may be no money. You have to factor in, in deciding whether to move ahead with the lawsuit, whether you can plausibly be paid or not.


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