Personal Injury

What Questions Will the Plaintiff Get Asked at a Dog Bite Deposition?

Reviewed by David Goguen, J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law

When you file a lawsuit because you were bitten by a bog, you may be required to go to a deposition. A deposition is a question-and-answer session that takes place out of court, usually at a lawyer's office.

When you go to a dog bite deposition, you'll be asked to recite an oath where you swear to tell the truth. After that, the defendant’s attorney (or in some instances, the attorney representing their insurance company) will ask you questions about facts related to the case. The questions and answers will be recorded by a court reporter (and possibly videotaped) and can be offered as evidence down the road, such as at trial, if your lawsuit gets to that stage.

Tips for Your Dog Bite Deposition

It is important that you answer all questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. If you have an experienced dog bite attorney, he or she will tell you more about what to expect during the deposition, but some general guidelines about answering questions at a deposition in a dog bite case include:

  • Always tell the truth; never lie or purposely omit facts.

  • Answer the question at hand, but don’t offer additional, extraneous information (don't ramble on).

  • If you don’t understand a question, you can ask for it to be repeated or rephrased.

  • It’s okay to say you don’t know the answer (and of course, don’t guess at the answer).

  • You can ask for a drink or bathroom break if you need one.

  • Try to refrain from offering speculation.

  • Take time to think about your answer before speaking.

  • Be polite and try to stay calm even if some of the questions are upsetting.

Fault and Dog Bite Lawsuits

Specific dog bite laws vary from state to state. Some states have "strict liability" dog bite statutes, which make a dog owner automatically liable if their dog bites someone (California and Florida are on this list). In other states, like Georgia and New York, some amount of fault or knowledge on the dog owner's part must be shown before the owner can be held liable. (Learn more about Strict Liability Dog Bite Laws and "One Bite" Liability Rules, from Nolo.com.)

No matter where you live, the defendant’s attorney will be attempting to identify any way in which you may have contributed to the dog bite incident and your resulting injuries -- for example, if you were trespassing on private property when the bite occurred, or if you provoked the dog before it bit you.

Depending on the laws of your state, the defendant's lawyer may also try to prove that the defendant could not have reasonably anticipated that their dog would bite someone.

Questions You May Be Asked About the Incident

Some questions you may be asked during your deposition include:

  • Do you own a dog now? Have you owned a dog in the past?

  • Have you seen or interacted with this dog prior to the date of the attack?

  • What, specifically, were you doing when the dog bite occurred?

  • Where did the attack take place?

  • Who else may have witnessed the attack?

  • If the dog’s owner was present, how did they respond to the attack?

  • Who else has knowledge of the facts of this case?

Questions You May Be Asked About Your Injuries

The defendant will also want to gather information about your injuries and subsequent treatment, and any lost wages due to these injuries, which will establish the amount of your losses (or "damages"). The defendant's lawyer may ask the following questions to get this information.

  • What injuries did you suffer?

  • Where and how soon did you seek treatment for your dog bite injuries?

  • Are you expected to fully recover from your injuries, or will there be lasting effects?

  • Have you missed work due to your injuries, and if so, how much?

Learn more about depositions in our article on what happens at a personal injury deposition?

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