If your dog attacks a person, the victim can hold you liable for the attack, and he or she can bring a civil suit against you. Unfortunately, as a dog owner, you should always be prepared for this eventuality, and if you are currently being sued, it's important to have a strong defense.
Here's a look at what you need to do in conjunction with legal services if someone is suing you because your dog attacked them:
1. Prove that the victim's injuries are not significant
In order to sue you for a dog attack, the victim needs to have significant injuries. This could be a deep bite, torn flesh or post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the attack. Ideally, you need to work with your lawyer to prove that the victim does not have significant injuries.
For example, you could request to have the victim analysed by a court-appointed therapist to determine whether or not his or her PTSD symptoms are real and whether or not they are actually a result of the attack.
2. Argue that the victim illegally defended him or herself against the dog.
If you are attacked by a dog or a human in Australia, you have the right to defend yourself. You can use whatever is on hand. However, you cannot prepare in advance for an attack, and this means that you cannot carry knives or pepper spray for self-defense in most Australian states.
If the victim responded to the dog attack by using weapons he or she was not legally allowed to carry, you should ask your lawyer to bring that up in court. This can help to invalidate the other person's claim.
3. Establish that your dog was acting in self-defense.
Just as humans can defend themselves so too can dogs. If someone is suing you because your dog attacked them, work with your lawyer to argue that the dog acted in self-defense.
For example, argue that your dog was first attacked by the victim's dog, or try to prove that your dog was provoked into attacking.
4. Show that the dog was not in your possession.
If the victim was bit while trespassing on your land, you can argue that you are not liable for the attack. Similarly, if your dog was stolen and then it attacked, you can also argue that you are not responsible, as the dog was not in your care at the time of the attack.
5. Insure your dog.
Whether you are held liable or not, you should book insurance after your trial. This way if you are ever taken to court again, you don't have to worry about paying the settlement out of your personal finances. Instead, your insurer can cover it. Home and contents policies typically include coverage that can kick in in the event of a dog attack.