Visitor Question

Lawsuit for German Shepherd attack on my wife?

Submitted By: David (St. Peters, Missouri)

On Sunday 12/3/2017 at approximately 3:30pm my wife departed home for a neighborhood trail walk and was physically attacked by a large German Shepherd named Dexter darting out from a neighbor’s property into the street from the front yard.

The Dog’s caretaker at the time, name unknown, but an adult man was in front of the home, as well other neighbors and playing children, who all witnessed Dexter viciously and aggressively jump onto my wife’s Nancy’s back and then again her side viciously growling, and chomping showing full teeth at her face level. While this was going on, the caretaker physically did nothing to separate the dog from my wife. For the life of us, we do not understand why.

My wife slowly with arms tightly folded; turned 180 degrees around and started walking slowly home begging this man to get his dog away. The dog continued to accost her all the way home growling to within four feet our garage door while the caretaker only looked and watched. The dog would not respond to any of his verbal commands or orders.

The caretaker continued to make no physical contact or action to separate the dog from my wife. My wife opened the garage door to only then see the dog within four feet and the man watching from the end of his driveway. Children were watching, who ran home to get their mom and dad to help my wife.

The garage door was stopped and only opened a foot and a half. My wife feared the dog was going into our garage and home at that point. The dog then began, looking down and into the slightly opened garage door just as the time our neighbor lady had come walking out to assist. The dog retreated and my wife got to safety.

We thank God for her safety, and that of the playing children who had not been seriously injured or bitten by this uncontrolled aggressive large German Shepherd. My wife has since experienced loss of sleep, anxiety, and bitterness towards the responsible parties.

A police report has been filed along with follow-up Monday morning with the Animal Control officer. The same dog, later on 01/20/2018 attacked a family walking in the adjacent public park and bit one of 3 children, an 8 year old boy.

My wife and I are considering a personal injury suit, including my lost wages, on both the dog’s owner and home owners insurance policy for failure to prevent, and furthermore stop the attack on my wife. How do we go about this? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear David,

Based on the facts you present, your wife did not sustain any physical injuries. However, it is clear she may have sustained psychological injuries, including loss of sleep, anxiety, and bitterness. These symptoms are likely transient, and should soon resolve themselves.

The question is whether you want to proceed with a civil action against the dog owner, and whether or not you have the basis of such an action.

The dog’s caretaker will not be liable for the attack on your wife. Instead, the dog owner will ultimately be the person who may be held accountable. The challenge for you and your wife will be to prove the basis of compensable injuries. To have the basis of a valid injury claim will require proof that as a direct result of the attack your wife required medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment. Without such proof there are no “Damages.”

Damages can include the cost of medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, bandages, etc.), and your wife’s lost wages if the injury caused her to miss work. In the event your wife was unable to drive to her to treatment, or if she was unable to care for herself at home while recovering, your lost wages may be considered damages as well.

Without evidence of physical or psychological injuries, your wife’s claim will be difficult to prove. It is the damages your wife sustained, and not the attack itself, which are compensable.

A police report now exists. Also, because the dog appears to be quite dangerous, St. Peters Animal Control will likely investigate the matter. If they conclude the dog is dangerous, they may instruct the dog owner to properly restrain, issue a citation, or both. If they conclude the dog presents a serious threat of imminent injury or death to others, they may take the dog and euthanize it.

Learn more here: Dangerous Dog Laws and Injury Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck with your claim,

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