When Can I Sue For A Dog Bite in Wisconsin

If you suffered significant injuries from a dog bite requiring extensive medical care or hospitalization, and the owner did not fully compensate your expenses, your best course of action is to sue.

Wisconsin law holds animal owners liable for ensuring their pets do not endanger others. Dog owners can be held responsible for injuries caused by attacks. If negligent owners or a vicious animal victimized you, you deserve full compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial damages.

Warshafsky Law's aggressive attorneys will fight to maximize your compensation for dog bite injuries.

  • The dog was not properly restrained or contained on the owner's property, allowing it to bite you while you were lawfully present
  • The dog's owner failed to control or leash the dog in a public area, resulting in a bite
  • The owner knew or should have known the dog had a propensity for aggression or biting but failed to take proper precautions
  • The dog was not properly vaccinated or licensed as required by local laws
  • The owner violated leash laws or other local ordinances related to dog ownership, leading to the bite
  • The dog was being used for illegal purposes, such as dog fighting or as a guard dog without proper licensing
  • The owner provoked or encouraged the dog to attack or bite you
  • The bite occurred on your own property, and the dog was allowed to trespass
  • The owner failed to provide adequate warning or signage about the presence of a potentially dangerous dog
  • The dog was a breed classified as "dangerous" or "vicious" under local laws, and the owner failed to take necessary precautions
  • The bite occurred at a business or premises where the owner failed to maintain a safe environment for customers or visitors
  • The owner was negligent in the training, handling, or care of the dog, leading to the bite incident
  • This list covers a wide range of scenarios where the dog owner's negligence, failure to follow regulations, or knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities can potentially lead to liability in a dog bite lawsuit.

*Please note, this is not an extensive list. Contact our experienced dog bite attorneys after any dog bite for legal advice.

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What damages can I receive compensation for after a dog bite?

If you are the victim of a dog bite, it is important to know the full scale of damages for which the owner may be liable. You are likely able to seek compensation to cover:

  1. Medical Expenses - You should be compensated for all medical bills resulting from a dog attack, including hospital bills, surgeries, physical therapy, medications and possibly psychotherapy to ensure you make a full recovery.

  2. Lost Wages - Severe injuries and possible time in court can have a significant impact on your ability to work and earn income. You should be compensated for all wages lost as a result of your time spent in court as the victim of a dog bite.

  3. Pain and Suffering - Pain and suffering compensation covers the emotional and physical distress you have been subject to because of a dog bite.

  4. Loss of Enjoyment of Life - Severe injuries could potentially leave a victim of a dog bite permanently unable to take part in activities they enjoy. This damage to your quality of life should be compensated.

  5. Property Damage - Any personal property damaged during the dog attack, such as clothing, eyeglasses, or other belongings, should be covered by the dog owner.

On average, Warshafsky Law settles dog bite lawsuits for around $75,000, but the amount you receive will be dependent on the severity of your injuries, the level of negligence, where negligence is assigned and ultimately, if your case does go to trial, the judgment rendered.

Contact Warshafsky Law Firm for a free consultation about making a case for your dog bite attack. We’ll advise you on the best course of action to pursue the maximum settlement.

Dog Bite Compensation

Average Compensation for Dog Bite Cases 2023

YearValue of claims ($millions)Number of claimsAverage cost per claim
2014 $530.8 16,550 $32,072
2015 $571.3 15,352 37,214
2016 $602.2 18,123 33,230
2017 $686.3 18,522 37,051
2018 $674.9 17,297 39,017
2019 $796.8 17,802 44,760
2020 $853.7 17,597 50,245
2021 $881.9 17,989 49,025
2022 $1,136 17,597 64,555
2023 $1,116 19,062 58,545
Percent change, 2022-2023 -1.8% 8.3% -9.3%
Percent change, 2014-2023 110.2% 15.2% <82.5%

2023 Average Payouts for Dog Bite Cases:

$1,116.0 million in 2013

In 2023, the estimated value of dog bite claims was $1,116.0 million.

19,062 Dog Bites claimed in 2023

The estimated number of dog bite claims in 2023 was 19,062.

$58,545 average cost of claim

The average cost per dog bite claim in 2023 was $58,545.

1.8% value of claims

From 2022 to 2023, the value of claims decreased by 1.8%.

8.3% number of claims

The number of claims increased by 8.3% from 2022 to 2023.

9.3% number of claims

The average cost per claim decreased by 9.3% from 2022 to 2023.

Source: Insurance Information Institution Statistics 

Compensation for personal injury cases in Wisconsin

Factors Affecting Compensation

  • Injuries Severity and permanence of injuries
  • Surgery Need for ongoing medical treatment or plastic surgery
  • Emotional Extent of emotional trauma
    (PTSD, anxiety, etc.)
  • Age of victim
    (higher for children)
  • Whether attack was provoked or dog had history of aggression
  • Applicable dog bite laws and liability rules in the state
Insurance Company Minimize Payouts

How Insurance Companies Try to Minimize Payouts

  1. Using Your Words Against You

    Insurance companies will record and analyze anything you say to use against you later. There are several settlement rip-off tactics to be aware of. Never admit fault or agree to their version of events when speaking to an adjuster after an accident or incident.

  2. Scaring With Baseless Accusations

    Insurers may accuse you of fraud or threaten legal action, even though they have no real authority. Don't believe baseless threats - they are merely tactics to intimidate you into accepting a low settlement.

  3. Intentional Stalling

    Insurance companies may intentionally delay and stall by losing paperwork, transferring adjusters, not returning calls, etc. Their goal is to wear you down over time until you give up and accept an insufficient offer out of desperation.

  4. Pushing Low Settlement Paperwork

    Insurers will persistently push paperwork at you to sign for a low settlement amount. Do not sign anything without first reviewing it thoroughly with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

  5. Minimizing Dog Bite Payouts

    For dog bite claims against their policyholders, insurance providers frequently try to minimize payouts by denying claims, disputing liability, undervaluing injuries, and blaming victims for provoking attacks.

  6. Skilled Representation Crucial

    The best way to fight back against insurance company tactics is to hire skilled legal representation. An experienced personal injury lawyer is vital to effectively negotiate with insurers and secure fair compensation, including through litigation if necessary.

Dog Bite Laws in Wisconsin

Dog bite laws in Wisconsin are clear. As a strict liability state, dog owners in Wisconsin may be held liable for injuries caused by their pet whether they had prior knowledge of the dog’s dangerous behavior or not. If they did have prior knowledge of aggressive behavior, they may be liable for double the amount of damages.

There are often hidden sources of liability within dog attack cases. If a dog injured your child while in the care of others, we’ll put you in contact with a daycare negligence lawyer to determine the full degree of your claims. In certain dog bite lawsuits, the owner may not be the liable party due to the location in which the injury occurred. Warshafsky Law will consider all possibilities and navigate your case to fight for full compensation for your dog bite attack.

WI Statutes For Dog Bite Cases

Wisconsin has specific laws governing dog bite incidents and the liability of dog owners. The most relevant laws include:

  1. Strict Liability for Dog Bites (Wisconsin Statutes § 174.02(1)(a)) The owner of a dog is liable for the full amount of damages caused by the dog injuring or causing injury to a person, domestic animal, or property.
  2. Double Damages for Prior Knowledge of Aggression (Wisconsin Statutes § 174.02(1)(b)) If the owner was notified or knew the dog had previously injured or caused injury, the owner is liable for two times the full amount of damages.
  3. Fines for Dog Bite Incidents (Wisconsin Statutes § 174.02(2)) Without prior notice, the owner shall forfeit $50 to $500 if the dog injures a person, animal, or property.
  4. Liability of Keepers and Harborers (Wisconsin Statutes § 174.001(5) and § 174.02(1)) The definition of "owner" includes keepers and harborers, making them liable for injuries caused by the dog.
  5. Potential for Euthanasia Order (Wisconsin Statutes § 174.02(3)) In certain cases, a court may order a dog to be euthanized after two separate occasions of causing serious injury if the owner was given notice or knew of the first incident.

Statute of Limitations for a Dog Attack in WI

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims (Wisconsin Statutes § 893.57)The statute of limitations for a dog bite injury in Wisconsin is typically three years from the date of the attack.

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How does comparative negligence affect a lawsuit?

If you are the victim of a dog attack and seeking legal action, the owner’s insurance company will likely attempt to prove a level of comparative negligence to diminish the amount of compensation you can receive. They will look to prove you are partially or even fully responsible for the damages.

Trespassing on the dog owner’s property or provoking the dog may constitute proof of negligence on the dog bite victim’s behalf.

If the dog bite victim is judged to be less than 50% negligent, the amount of compensation the victim receives in damages will be reduced by the percentage of which they are found negligent.

Both parties could be considered negligent, at which point, a percentage of negligence will be assigned to both the victim and the dog owner.

If the dog bite victim is judged to be more than 50% negligent, the victim will receive no compensation for damages, even if the dog owner is also negligent.

It is absolutely vital that you not admit guilt in any form to the dog owner or the dog owner's insurance company, as they will almost certainly try to use whatever you say against you.

Premise Liability & Dog Bite Claims

In cases involving dog attacks, premises liability can come into play, holding property owners responsible for injuries caused by dogs on their premises.

  • Property owners have a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises and take precautions against foreseeable risks, including the presence of dangerous dogs.
  • If a property owner knew or should have known about a dog's dangerous propensities and failed to take appropriate measures to prevent attacks, they can be held liable under premises liability laws.
  • Common scenarios where premises liability applies include dog attacks at apartment complexes, businesses, parks, or other public spaces where the property owner failed to enforce leash laws or post adequate warnings.
  • In Wisconsin specifically, premises liability for dog attacks falls under the state's strict liability dog bite statute (Wis. Stat. § 174.02), which can extend liability to landlords, businesses, or other property owners in certain circumstances.

Premises liability can be a crucial factor in dog attack cases, as it allows victims to seek compensation from property owners who failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable harm from dangerous dogs on their premises.

Insurance Company Negotiations and Tactics

Insurance providers frequently try to minimize payouts for dog bite claims against their policyholders. Their tactics include denying claims, disputing liability, undervaluing injuries, and blaming victims for provoking attacks. Skilled legal representation is vital to effectively negotiate with insurers and secure fair compensation for dog bite injuries, including through litigation if necessary.

Determining Liability is Dog Bites Cases Can Be Complex

Determining liability in personal injury cases, including dog bite incidents, is not always straightforward in Wisconsin. While the state has strict liability laws holding dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their pets, there can be complexities and nuances. Here are a few key points on determining liability for dog bite cases in Wisconsin:

  • Wisconsin's dog bite statute (§174.02) makes owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether they knew about the dog's dangerous propensities. However, there may be exceptions or defenses to reduce or eliminate liability, such as trespassing or provocation by the victim.
  • In some cases, liability may extend beyond just the dog owner. For example, if the attack occurred at a business or rental property, the property owner or manager could be held liable for failing to maintain safe premises or control a dangerous dog on their property.
  • Factors like the dog's history of aggression, whether it was properly restrained or confined, and the circumstances surrounding the attack must be carefully examined to determine the full extent of liability and any potential comparative negligence by the victim.
  • Evidence such as witness statements, medical records, animal control reports, and documentation of the incident scene can be crucial in establishing liability and the severity of damages.

Serious Injuries from Dog Attacks

Settlement amounts in dog bite lawsuits vary significantly from case to case. The amount you receive will be largely dependent on the severity of the injuries sustained, where negligence is assigned, and the judgment delivered. Dog bites and attacks can cause significant traumatic injury. According to the CDC, over 850,000 dog bite victims a year require medical attention for their injuries.

Common Injuries following Dog Attacks include:

  • Scratching and Bruising
  • Torn or Shredded Skin
  • Fractures
  • Puncture Wounds
  • Deep Cuts and Lacerations
  • Dislocated Joints

If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite, it’s important to know the six levels of dog bites in order to understand and express the seriousness of the bite.

Level 1

Dog is acting aggressively, snapping, air-biting, but no actual contact

Level 2

There is tooth contact on skin, but no punctures

Level 3

Skin is shallowly punctured with one or multiple bites

Level 4

Single bite with deep punctures or lacerations

Level 5

Multiple bite attack with deep punctures, lacerations or structural damage

Level 6

Death of the victim

Minor injuries are classified as surface-level scratches and puncture wounds, for which you may have less influence to seek compensation for pain and suffering. Level 1 to Level 3 bites are usually considered minor injuries.

Severe injuries are classified as physical disfigurements such as large cuts, deep puncture wounds, fractured or broken bones and other intense structural damage. These injuries entitle you to a higher level of compensation, but your case will also likely take longer in order to display the full extent of the damages. Level 4 to Level 5 dog bites are considered serious, life-threatening injuries. If your loved one has died from a Level 6 dog bite, call us for help.

Dog bites carry incredible amounts of bacteria. Even if your injuries after a dog bite appear to be minor, it is critical to seek medical attention quickly to reduce the risk of infection and ensure you haven’t suffered any internal injuries. If you are due for a tetanus shot, you may need a booster as quickly as possible after you’re bitten. At Warshafsky Law Firm, we will use our expertise to advise you on your next best course of action to receive the maximum settlement for your injuries.

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Top Reason For Dog Bites in WI

  1. Lack of Training Knowledge: A study by the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery found dog bite injuries tripled for several months in 2020, with the rate of dog bites involving children increasing by 25%. Many experts attribute this rise to the increase in pet ownership during the pandemic, with many first-time dog owners lacking proper knowledge of training and socialization techniques for their breeds.
  2. Failure to Socialize Dogs: The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports up to 30% of all dog bite-related incidents in the United States are caused by jaw-chomping injuries, which can result from improper socialization and exposure to new environments and stimuli. Proper socialization techniques, including exposure to new people, places, sounds, and smells, can help prepare dogs to respond appropriately in potentially stressful situations.
  3. Breed-Specific Aggression: While any dog breed can bite, certain breeds may be more prone to aggression if not properly trained and socialized. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, breeds such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds were responsible for a higher percentage of fatal dog bite incidents in the United States.
  4. Lack of Compliance with Local Laws: Wisconsin's dog bite laws (Wisconsin Statutes § 174.02) hold dog owners strictly liable for damages caused by their dogs, including fines and potential euthanasia orders for repeat offenders. Failure to comply with local laws and regulations regarding dog ownership, licensing, and control can contribute to an increased risk of dog bite incidents.

Proper training, socialization and responsible ownership can significantly reduce the risk of such incidents occurring.

Service Dog

What if I was bit by a service dog?

When it comes to service animal attacks in Wisconsin, the legal landscape can be complex. While service animals are generally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), their owners or handlers can still be held liable for injuries caused by the animal.

Under Wisconsin's strict liability dog bite statute (Wis. Stat. § 174.02), service animal owners are liable for any injuries or damages caused by their animal, regardless of whether they were aware of the animal's dangerous propensities. However, the victim must prove they did not provoke the attack in any way. Premises liability may come into play if the attack occurred on someone else's property and the owner failed to maintain a reasonably safe environment. It's crucial for service animal handlers to ensure proper training and control of their animals to mitigate risks.

Dog Attack Statistics (According to the World Animal Foundation)

4.5 Million Nearly 4.5 million people are victims of dog bites in the US each year

1 in 51 in every 5 dog bites becomes infected

70% 70% of dog bites are from unneutered male dogs

77%Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are responsible for 77% of all dog bites

Reported bite attacks by dog breeds (yearly average between 2014-2020)

Pit Bulls

3,397ATTACKS

 

Rottweilers

535ATTACKS

 

German Shepherds

113ATTACKS

 

Wolf Dogs

85ATTACKS

 

Huskies

83ATTACKS

 

Boxers

64ATTACKS

 

Great Danes

37ATTACKS

 

Bull Mastiffs

28ATTACKS

 

Doberman Pinschers

23ATTACKS

 

Malamutes

15ATTACKS

 

Have you or someone you love been attacked by a dog in Wisconsin? Call Warshafsky, Milwaukee’s trusted dog bite attorney. We’ll fight big so you can fight back.

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Breed-Specific Dog Laws in Wisconsin

  • Arpin Pit Bull ban
  • Bloomer Pit Bulls heavily restricted
  • Cudahy Pit Bulls are considered “dangerous”
  • Fox Lake Pit Bull ban
  • Greenwood Pit Bull ban
  • Hewitt Pit Bull ban
  • Juneau Pit Bull ban repealed in 2015
  • Mayville Pit Bulls are declared “vicious”
  • Milwaukee PitBulls and Rottweilers are restricted
  • Montello Pit Bull ban
  • Neillsville Pit Bull ban
  • Niagara Pit Bull ban
  • Oconomowoc Pit Bulls are declared “vicious”
  • Ripon Pit Bull ban
  • St. Francis Pit Bull ban
  • St. Joseph Pit Bulls and wolf hybrids are restricted
  • Somerset Pit Bulls considered "fierce or dangerous"
  • South Milwaukee Pit Bull ban removed as of 2017
  • Strum Pit Bulls and Doberman Pinschers are declared “dangerous”
  • Village of Argyle Pit Bulls, Presa Canarios, Rottweilers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Mastiff breeds are restricted.
  • Village of Baldwin Pit Bulls banned, unless registered with the Village prior to January 11, 2006 and certain requirements are met
  • Village of Dane Pit Bull ban
  • Village of Dresser Pit Bulls are declared “vicious”
  • Village of Stratford Pit Bull ban
  • Village of Westfield Pit Bulls banned, unless registered with the Village prior to September 10, 2002 and certain requirements are met
  • Village of Woodville Pit Bulls banned, unless registered with the Village prior to July 10, 2007 and certain requirements are met
  • Village of Wrightstown Pit Bulls are declared “vicious”
  • Weyauwega Pit Bulls banned unless certain requirements are met, such as registration and reporting, mandatory insurance and signage
  • Yorkville Pit Bull ban

* For the most up-to-date information, visit the Breed Specific Legislation Map

What happens if a dog bite occurs on my property?

If a dog bites someone on your property and you are not the owner of the dog, common-law liability may protect you from negligence charges, ideally preventing a lawsuit. A law governing the standard of care, however, may be a complication. Standard of care requires landowners/occupiers to keep a relatively safe environment for everyone on the premises, including keeping guests safe from possibly dangerous animals.

If a dog bites someone on your property, call your homeowner’s insurance as soon as possible, as some insurance companies will cover dog bites in their policy. Be aware the breed of your dog will be a factor. Some insurance companies will not cover certain breeds, such as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. Keep in mind, once your insurance has provided coverage for the incident, they may increase your premiums or cease your coverage altogether.

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Who to Contact As The Dog’s Owner

  1. Animal Control

    MADACC can provide guidance on the proper procedures to follow, including reporting the incident, quarantining the animal for observation, and ensuring the safety of all involved parties.

  2. Emergency Veterinary Care

    If the dog involved in the bite incident requires immediate medical attention, you can contact the following emergency veterinary clinic:

    VCA Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals Phone: (414) 543-7387
    Address: 3670 S 108th St, Greenfield, WI 53228
    For sick/injured animals needing immediate care after hours

Milwaukee Personal Injury Lawsuits Frequently Asked Questions

How long after a dog bite can you sue?

You have three years from the date of the injury to sue for damages.

Can you sue someone if their dog bites your dog?

Yes. If your dog sustains injuries from another dog, you can file a lawsuit.

Are dog bites covered by insurance?

Sometimes. Coverage varies with each company, but many insurance companies will cover dog bites. Factors such as the dog’s breed will influence the policy. If you’re unsure, give your insurance company a call.

What happens if I was bit by a dog while trespassing?

If you were trespassing or provoked the dog when you were attacked, the owner may not be liable for the costs and damages associated with the attack, unless there are extenuating circumstances.