Can You Sue a Dog’s Owner for Emotional Damages After a Bite?

Dog bites can be a traumatic experience, leaving lasting physical and emotional scars on a victim. While a physical injury may be easier to see and quantify, the psychological and emotional distress caused by a dog bite can be equally as devastating. But can you sue a dog’s owner for emotional damages after being bitten? The simple answer is yes, but it depends on various factors. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of emotional damages in dog bite cases, discuss what factors impact whether you can sue for emotional damages, and examine how emotional distress can be proven in court. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog and experienced emotional damages as a result, read on to learn more about your legal options.

Emotional Damages After a Dog Bite

Emotional damages refer to the psychological effects that a person experiences after being bitten by a dog. These damages can include anxiety, fear, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sleep disorders, among others. Simply put, emotional damages are the harm caused to a person’s mental health as a result of the bite.

It is important to note that although emotional trauma is often not visible like physical injuries, it is just as real and impactful. Emotional damages can be severe and long-lasting, causing a significant decrease in a person’s quality of life. Therefore, emotional damages can be just as valid as physical injuries in a lawsuit, and victims may be entitled to compensation for all the harm they have suffered – both physical and mental.

Factors To Consider in Dog Bite Litigation

Factors can vary from case to case but are essential to consider when pursuing legal action against the dog’s owner. Here are some of the most critical to keep in mind:

The Severity of the Bite

Generally, the more severe the bite, the more likely it is that a person can seek compensation for emotional damages. Severe bites can cause long-term psychological harm and may be more challenging to heal emotionally.

“Strict Liability”

Strict liability is a legal principle that holds an owner responsible for damages even if they were not negligent or acted improperly. In the context of dog bites, this means that if a dog bites someone, the owner is strictly liable for any resulting damages. This includes both physical injuries and emotional damages.

In other words, if you’ve been bitten by a dog in Illinois, you do not need to prove negligence or fault on the part of the owner to recover compensation for your emotional distress. That means that regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong, they are held responsible for all harm caused by their dog.

Whether the Victim Has Sought Medical Treatment

If a victim sought medical treatment for physical injuries, it could be easier to prove emotional damages. Records of medical visits can help establish a connection between physical injuries and emotional distress caused by the dog bite.

Proving Emotional Damages in Court

When pursuing a lawsuit for emotional damages resulting from a dog bite, it is crucial to gather medical and psychological evidence to support your claims. This evidence will be essential in proving the extent of your emotional distress and, ultimately, the damages you deserve.

Medical evidence includes medical records that show any physical injuries resulting from the dog bite. Along with these records, it is important to document any psychological effects that have resulted from the attack. These can include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others.

To document these effects, it is necessary to seek professional help. A mental health provider, such as a therapist or psychologist, can work with you to assess and diagnose any emotional disturbance resulting from the attack. The therapist can also provide treatment and document how the injury has affected your daily life, relationships, and overall well-being.

Legal counsel experienced in personal injury cases can help build a strong case by gathering all relevant documentation surrounding the dog bite incident. This evidence includes witness statements, medical records, and past complaints about the dog’s behavior.

In order to recover damages for emotional distress caused by a dog bite, proof of the extent of the injury must be presented in court. With proper documentation and legal support, individuals can receive the compensation they deserve for the emotional harm caused by a dog bite.


In conclusion, emotional damages resulting from a dog bite can be just as real and damaging as physical injuries. Victims may be entitled to compensation for all the harm they have suffered – both physical and mental. Factors such as the severity of the bite, knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities, seeking medical treatment, and local laws and procedures can impact whether a person can sue for emotional damages. It is crucial to gather medical and psychological evidence to support your claims and work with experienced legal counsel to build a strong case. With the proper documentation and legal support from one of our expert personal injury lawyers, you can receive the compensation you deserve for the emotional harm caused by a dog bite, helping you move forward in your healing process.