Personal Injury

Interrogatories in a Dog Bite Case

Reviewed by David Goguen, J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law
Soon after a dog bite lawsuit is filed, the parties will send one another written questions (interrogatories) that must be answered under oath.

When a personal injury lawsuit is filed over a dog bite incident, the injured person (the plaintiff) and the animal's owner (the defendant) will exchange information regarding how the incident happened, the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries, and other key aspects of the case. Interrogatories are a big part of the discovery phase of any personal injury lawsuit, and dog bite claims are no exception. Interrogatories are written sets of questions that both sides of the case can send to one another. The responding party must answer in writing and under oath. Let's look at the kind of information that interrogatories might target in a typical dog bite case, and some sample question topics.

What Is the Focus of Dog Bite Interrogatories?

Dog bite laws vary by state. In some states, dog owners are liable for resulting injuries if their dog bites someone, regardless of whether or not their dog had a history of biting or if they had knowledge of their dog’s tendency to bite. In other states, the dog bite liability laws are slightly more lenient, and some negligence on the part of the dog owner needs to be established. Interrogatories in a dog bite case will often be tailored to what the injured person needs to prove in order to establish the dog owner's liability for the incident.

That means uncovering the facts surrounding the dog bite incident (or at least both sides' versions of the facts). In addition to proving liability, the person who was bitten (the plaintiff) will need to provide evidence of their injuries, and the extent of their medical treatment, so interrogatories will focus on those issues as well.

Sample Dog Bite Lawsuit Interrogatories

The exact questions covered in dog bite interrogatories will depend on the facts of the individual case, but let's look at some examples.

Questions the plaintiff might send to the defendant in a dog bite case include:

  • Please state the name, age, weight, breed, and color of the dog that is the subject of this case.

  • Has the dog in question ever bitten another person prior to, or since, this incident? If so, please provide the name of the person bitten, the date of the occurrence, and identify any related legal action.

  • Please provide the name and addresses of all eyewitnesses to this dog bite incident.

  • Please provide the name and address of any veterinarian or clinic where said dog has received treatment within the last five (5) years.

The defendant in a dog bite lawsuit will attempt to uncover any facts that could eliminate or reduce their liability for their dog’s bite, such as whether the plaintiff was trespassing when the dog bite occurred, or if the dog was provoked.

Interrogatories sent from the defendant to the plaintiff in a dog bite lawsuit might include:

  • Have you (the plaintiff) been previously injured by a dog? If so, please provide the date, nature of the injuries, and identify any related legal action.

  • Please describe in detail what you were doing at the time of the alleged attack.

  • Do you currently, or have you, in the past ten (10) years, owned a dog? If so, please provide the dog’s breed, weight, and dates of ownership.

  • Please identify the exact location where the alleged dog bite injury occurred.

  • Please provide the name, address, and phone number of all doctors and/or medical professionals that treated you for injuries related to this incident.

Whether you've been bitten by a dog, or you're the owner of an animal that may have been involved in a bite incident, once the lawsuit is in the discovery phase and it's time to send out or respond to interrogatories, it’s best to put your case in the hands of an experienced attorney. Learn more about what to ask during a free consultation with a dog bite attorney.

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