Litigating Dog Bite Claims: Pursuing or Defending Personal Injury Cases Against Dog Owners and Custodians

Assessing Claims, Investigating the Dog, Leveraging Defenses, Dealing With Minor Victims, Negotiating Insurance Settlements

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Thursday, June 8, 2017
Recorded event now available

This CLE webinar will provide guidance to personal injury counsel for pursuing or defending against claims over injuries caused by dog bites and attacks. The panel will discuss effective strategies for assessing claims and potential defendants, investigating the attacking dog, proving strict liability or negligence, establishing causation, raising defenses, dealing with special issues when victims are minors, negotiating potential settlements with or on behalf of insurance companies, and more.


Dog bite claims surged in 2016, accounting for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claims. Higher medical costs and larger verdicts and settlements have pushed the average cost per claim up by more than 70% over the past decade.

Pursuing personal injury claims on behalf of dog bite victims presents unique challenges for plaintiff counsel. In addition to understanding the laws of their state governing dog bites—i.e., strict liability, the “one free bite” rule, or proof of negligence—counsel must be familiar with factors that influence aggressive behavior in dogs. This will often require consultation with veterinarians, animal control officers or other animal experts.

Defense attorneys must be prepared to leverage common defenses to dog bite allegations and strategically negotiate settlement agreements on behalf of insurers.

Because children are frequently victims of dog bites, both plaintiff and defense counsel must be prepared to confront concerns about the legal and ethical treatment of minor victims and traumatized parents. Further, dog bite cases often involve friends, family members and neighbors as both victims and defendants, creating additional practical considerations and complexities.

Listen as our panel of experienced personal injury attorneys—both plaintiff and defense—examines the unique legal and practical challenges involved with handling dog bite and attack claims. The panel will discuss strategies for pursuing or defending against dog bite cases, as well as how to approach settlement negotiations with insurance companies.


  1. Recent trends in dog bite and attack claims
  2. Plaintiffs’ strategies
    1. Assessing claims and potential defendants
    2. Potential causes of action
    3. Investigating the attacking dog
    4. Gathering medical bills and other documentation of injury
    5. Working with veterinarians, animal behaviorists, animal control officers and other experts
    6. Proving negligence
    7. Proving causation
    8. Deposition strategies
    9. Summary judgment strategies
  3. Defense strategies
    1. Common defenses
    2. Deposition strategies
    3. Summary judgment strategies
  4. Special considerations when victim is a minor
  5. Insurance settlement negotiations


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What makes dog bite and attack cases unique and challenging for personal injury plaintiff and defense counsel?
  • What are the legal and practical considerations for personal injury attorneys pursuing dog bite claims?
  • What defenses are often raised in dog bite cases?
  • What are some best practices for negotiating settlements with or on behalf of insurance companies in dog bite cases?


Michael Kaiser, President
Kaiser Legal Group, Seattle

Mr. Kaiser is a regular speaker at CLE seminars and law schools on topics including animal law, ethics, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), discovery, and legal research. In addition to being a regular and highly-rated speaker on dog-bite litigation, Mr. Kaiser has been involved in ground-breaking internationally-recognized litigation seeking legal personhood for animals. He also recently published “Cut the Dog in Half”: Resolving Animal Law Disputes Through the Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution, 15 Cardozo J. Conflict Resol., 515 (2014). He has blogged nationally on animal law topics and reported on animal law for local public radio.

David M. Zagoria, Partner
Zagoria Law, Atlanta

Mr. Zagoria has been practicing law for more than 20 years, serving as a Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney before becoming a partner in his own law practice. He leverages the expertise gained working in criminal law to advocate for clients in a variety of personal injury cases. Mr. Zagoria’s years of courtroom experience inform his approach to personal injury law. Every case he takes on is investigated as thoroughly as possible, to be prepared in the event it has to be argued before a jury.


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Customer Reviews

I liked the practical and specific tips.

Natalie Lyons

The Cannon Law Firm

Overall, a very good presentation. For my practice, the presentation was relevant and highly informative.

David Lawrenz

Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin

The webinar was well-presented, interesting and informative.

Randi Saul-Olson

McKinney, Wainwright & Saul-Olson

Great content, including everyday examples, provided by each speaker.

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Duncan Firm

The relevance of the material and impact on the PI practice area was greatly appreciated.

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Baroumes & Bruen

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Litigation Advisory Board

David R. Cohen


Reed Smith

Jeffrey J. Fowler


O’Melveny & Myers

Jonathan Evan Goldberg



Mark E. Goodman


Capes Sokol Goodman & Sarachan

Dean D. Hunt


Baker & Hostetler

Michael E. Lackey, Jr.


Mayer Brown

Stephen Paffrath


Greenberg Traurig

Anthony T. Pierce


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

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