Many people are unprepared for the level of detail required to successfully manage a legal dispute. This is especially true in traditionally contentious matters like personal injury, accidents, and the kinds of common incidents that often result in as much inconvenience as damage. In New York City, accidents can have expensive consequences, which is why it is vitally important for everyone involved in a potential legal dispute to be prepared and able to defend their own interests.
One of the best ways to prepare for something as unfortunate as a dog bite or dog attack is to understand the legal process as well as possible and to avoid common mistakes made by less prepared plaintiffs. While it is true that some of these mistakes can be harmless, others can be devastating and incredibly expensive. Leaving aside the pitfalls of litigation, the wrong thing said at the wrong time, or the failure to understand what evidence will qualify as beneficial to a case can cause victims to permanently lose their chance to be made whole.
Not everyone can have a New York City dog bite attorney accompany them everywhere they go to assure compliance with each and every provision of the evidence code, so here are a few things to remember if you find yourself in the unenviable position of being a potential plaintiff in a dog bite case in New York City.
Regardless of your personal opinion, belief or any other information developed at the scene with regard to your health and safety, if you are bitten by a dog, your dog bite attorney NYC will tell you to seek medical attention at once. This is advisable even if you are bitten by your own dog and have no legal recourse. Dog bites can be extraordinarily traumatic and complications from their injuries can be hard to diagnose or predict. You need medical attention to protect your own personal safety.
From a legal standpoint, medical attention is important because it is in itself evidence of an injury. Medical professionals will produce a great deal of material that will help you immensely if you are caught in a legal dispute, insurance dispute or other disagreements regarding what happened and how.
While you are obtaining medical attention, you should collect digital photographs of your doctor’s business card, degree and medical licenses along with photos of the nurses’ name tags. Naturally, you’ll also want copies of all your records.
Failing to seek medical attention damages the credibility of any potential legal claims you make. First, it calls into question the seriousness of your injuries. Second, it deprives you of objective evidence that you were bitten or injured in the first place. Either of these mistakes could preclude your ability to collect damages or an insurance settlement.
Document the Scene
You’ll find frequent references herein to your digital camera. There has never been a more advantageous invention in the history of the legal profession than a portable television station with unlimited “film.” You are probably carrying such a device with you most of the time. If you are bitten by a dog, make use of it. If you can get photographs of the dog, its name tag or other identifying information, do so. If there is an open gate, door or other portals through which the dog managed to escape, take as many pictures of that as possible. If you can do so without jeopardizing your personal safety, take pictures of your injuries.
If first responders, police or emergency personnel arrive at the scene, get pictures of their name tags and license plates at a minimum. If there are witnesses, record their statements at the scene on video and get their names and addresses for future reference.
If you are in a high traffic public location, explore the scene for any surveillance cameras, mass transit stops or automatic teller machines. Make note of any visible addresses or business names in the area. This information could provide you and your dog bite attorney NYC with independently developed third-party evidence or video footage which could dramatically strengthen your claim at a later date
Failing to collect evidence at the scene will prevent you from obtaining an important advantage in your case. You will not be able to establish the facts of the case on your own, which will reduce your assertions and protestations to the same level as the defendant. Without evidence, the best you can hope for is to have equal credibility with the defendant, which will likely produce a result you wouldn’t prefer.
It should be noted you will only get one chance to investigate the scene. The sooner you accomplish that task, the more valuable your evidence will be.
Whether or not police respond to the scene of the incident, you should make provision for filing a report with your local animal control authority. Most counties have some variant of animal control. These government agencies are sometimes associated with animal shelters and various non-profit organizations like the Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society.
The reason an animal control report is important is because it will establish the possibility of having the offending animal or its owners sanctioned. It is possible your incident was not the animal’s first, and if it is true the dog is serially attacking innocent people, it may be necessary to have the animal moved out of the area. Your report to animal control will help the local authorities protect others in your neighborhood and community and will also help protect what might be an abused or neglected dog. Failing to file a report with animal control could put others in danger. It’s not worth it for the few minutes of inconvenience you may or may not save.
Contact an Attorney
Like seeking medical attention, the act of at least consulting an attorney will help you establish the facts of your case. Even if you decide not to retain counsel, the information you provide to your attorney will have considerable credibility if you find yourself in an alternative dispute with your insurance company, for example.
Consultations with a qualified New York City dog bite attorney are sometimes offered free of charge. You will be able to work with an experienced advocate to determine if you have a case, and you will be able to deliver any evidence you develop to someone who can help you interpret and exploit it appropriately.
While it is possible to pursue a legal case and settlement on your own, your chances of a successful outcome increase dramatically with the aid of a qualified attorney.