Dog Bite? You Can Be Compensated For That.

How Do I Make a Dog-Bite Claim?

If you ever find yourself attacked by a dog, know that you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and property damage. Montana has a strict liability statute for dog bites. The first time a dog bites a person, the owner is liable for the damages whether or not the dog has attacked before. Mont. Code Ann. § 27-1-715.

There are exceptions. The statute applies when a dog-bite occurs inside an incorporated city or town, and when the victim was either in a public place or legally on private property. If you have been attacked and want to pursue damages, follow the steps below.

1. Gather information.

You may be immobile and in pain after a dog attack, but gather as much information about the people involved in the attack as possible before anyone leaves the scene. You will need the name and address of the dog’s owner or caretaker. If there any other witnesses gather their information as well.

2. Get medical treatment.

As soon as you leave the scene of the dog-bite or attack, go to a medical facility. Prompt treatment is important for your health and your personal injury claim. Animal bites need to be addressed as soon as possible by medical professionals in case the bite has damaged muscle tissue and to prevent infection.

Getting prompt medical treatment is also important for your personal injury claim. Your injuries will determine the size of your claim and an amount of damages you may be entitled to receive. You will need the medical records documenting your injuries to support your claim.

3. Send a Demand Letter.

After you have been treated by a medical professional, you can take stock of how your dog-bite injury has affected your life and how much your medical expenses are. If the damage has been severe enough to warrant compensation from the dog’s owner, the next step is to hire an attorney or write a demand letter.

A demand letter is a vehicle for asking for compensation without initiating a lawsuit. In your letter, write to the owner of the dog and describe the incident, even if the other party was there. Next, explain your injury and the medical expenses and property damage expenses you have incurred. Finally, ask the other party to compensate you. Set a deadline for the dog owner’s reply.

4. Negotiate or Litigate

If the pet-owner responds to your letter you may be able to negotiate a settlement where the dog-owner pays for your medical expenses and property damage. If you do not receive a reply, you will have to file a claim in small claims court. In Montana, the damage limit in Small Claims Court is $3,000.00. If your claim is larger than that you will need to file a lawsuit in district court.

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