The O’Hara Law Firm recently settled a lawsuit for an elderly client who was bit by a Rottweiler that lived down the street. The dog bite victim was jogging down the street when the attack occurred. As the runner approached the dog owner and her dog, the dog escaped from the dog owner. The Rottweiler jumped up and bit the runner in the face with the leash dragging behind it. The man underwent plastic surgery to his face close the wound.
The dog bite victim first hired another firm to represent him. When the first firm was unable to obtain a favorable settlement in pre-suit negotiations, they referred the case to the O’Hara Law Firm. After the lawsuit was filed, the dog owner claimed that she never let go of the leash and that the dog did not bite the neighbor in the face. According to the Defendant, the dog allegedly only scratched the Plaintiff. The dog owner also claimed in her deposition that she did not have any problems controlling her large dog that was allegedly not aggressive. However, the O’Hara Law Firm was able to prove that the dog owner’s statements were likely untrue with testimony from other neighbors, a police report and testimony from the plastic surgeon that treated the dog bite victim.
Days after the incident, the dog owner admitted to the police officer investigating the attack that the dog was very strong and hard to handle. This statement was recorded in the police report. Defendant was confronted with this prior inconsistent statement in her deposition when she claimed she could control her dog. In addition, a neighbor who shared a fence line testified that the Rottweiler showed signs of aggression to contradict the dog owner’s claims. He testified that he did not allow his children in their own backyard when the dog was on the other side of the fence.
A plastic surgeon explained in his deposition that the wound was not consistent with a scratch and was more likely to a reasonable degree of medical probability a dog bite. He also testified about the surgery that he performed on the dog bite victim’s face to close the wound. After extensive discovery with multiple depositions and written discovery, the case resolved.
Theories of Liability
The O’Hara Law Firm pursued theories of negligence and strict liability against the dog owner. Under the negligence theory, the Plaintiff claimed that the dog owner failed to use reasonable care by not using an appropriate leash and collar to control the dog. The dog owner knew that the dog was strong and difficult for her to control. However, she failed to use a choke collar, prong collar or other type of device to control the large dog. Under the strict liability theory, the Plaintiff claimed that the dog owner knew the dog was aggressive before it bit Plaintiff. Plaintiff supported his allegations with testimony from the dog owner’s neighbor. The Defendant denied these claims.
If the case had proceeded to trial, a jury would decide if the Plaintiff proved the dog owner was liable under the negligence theory, strict liability theory, or both. The jury would gauge the credibility of the witnesses and apply the facts and testimony to the jury charge. A jury did not have to decide the merits of the lawsuit because it settled before a trial occurred.
Choose the O’Hara Law Firm
The O’Hara Law Firm attempts to obtain the best result for each client. Some law firms never file a lawsuit. The O’Hara Law Firm will counsel clients to file a lawsuit if an insurance company makes a low-ball offer pre-litigation. Some firms file lawsuits, but always settle at mediation. The O’Hara Law Firm counsels clients to not accept settlement offers at mediation if the firm believes the case is worth more. Some firms never proceed to trial. The O’Hara Law Firm has taken cases to trial when the offer was is not high enough. If you have been injured, contact the O’Hara Law Firm for a case evaluation.