ATTORNEYS AT LAW
Dog bites can cause serious injuries and trauma to victims. The period after the bite can be especially confusing as you recover from your injuries and consider your next steps. During this process, one of the most important steps will be to contact experienced dog bite lawyers to potentially help you pursue any compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries.
TYPES OF DOG BITE LAWSUITS
When a dog attacks another dog, both dogs and humans may be injured. Humans may often be injured trying to break up the fight between dogs. Further, even though homeowner’s insurance policies may cover a human’s pain and suffering, these policies will generally not cover a dog’s pain and suffering.
Children Bit by Dogs
Dog attacks on children may be especially complex.Children bitten by dogs frequently require not only medical treatment for physical injuries but also treatment for emotional and mental suffering such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Non-aggressive Dog Accidents
However, not all dog bites and injuries are caused by a dog intentionally attacking a human. Dogs may accidentally bite humans as a result of overly rough play. Other accidental bites may occur from a dog trying to bite food or another object.
TYPES OF DOG BITE LAWSUITS
Facial injuries are often some of the most common injuries suffered from dog bites. If you have been bitten in the face, you may have needed surgery or stitches. Scars also commonly result from these facial injuries. Common facial injuries include fractured skulls or jaw bones, eye injuries, scars, cuts and lacerations, broken nose, or other injuries.
Dog bites also frequently leave victims with open wounds. As a result, these wounds may often leave victims with infections, disfigurement, or permanent scarring.
Open wounds caused by dog bites often leave victims vulnerable to infections, which may include tetanus and staph infections, among others.
Dog bites may also sometimes crush or damage internal organs and muscles. The incredible force of dog bites can cause severe internal injuries to a victim. These injuries may result in crippling and permanent muscle damage.
TYPES OF DOG BITE LAWSUITS
Seek Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have been bitten by a dog. A medical professional can identify any injuries you may have suffered. Medical care can also determine whether you suffered any less obvious injuries or internal injuries.
You should keep detailed documentation of any medical records, including any records of your injuries, diagnosis, and treatment. This documentation can often be crucial in pursuing compensation for your injuries.
Document the Incident
After you have received medical attention for your injuries, you should thoroughly document the incident. You should collect contact information for any witnesses. If possible, take pictures of the dog that bit you, any visible injuries you suffered, and any environmental factors that may have contributed to the attack.
Report the Dog Bite to Animal Control Authorities
You should also report the dog bite to your local animal control authorities. Reporting the dog bite may help you discover the identity of the dog’s owner as well as learn such important factors as whether the dog has previously bitten or otherwise attacked someone.
Contact Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers Near You
One of the most important steps to take after being bitten by a dog will be to contact an experienced dog bite attorney. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you consider your options. Your attorney may help you determine if you may be entitled to compensation and how best to pursue any such compensation.
Determining another person’s liability for a dog bite will first depend upon whether negligence or strict liability applies. If the dog owner’s negligence or carelessness led to the dog bite, then negligence law will typically apply. Here, liability will generally be based upon showing the owner had a duty to exercise reasonable care to control the dog’s behavior and prevent bites. Next, there must be a showing that the owner breached that duty, such as by failing to properly leash the dog. Finally, the victim must generally show that harm occurred as a result.
In some states, strict liability may apply to dog bites. If so, owners may be automatically liable for any injury caused by their dog, regardless of any negligent behavior.
To determine the owner’s strict liability, you will generally need to show:
you were bit by the dog
the dog belonged to the owner at the time of the incident.
However, some states first require that a victim show:
the dog had “dangerous propensities”
the dog’s owner either knew or should have known of these dangerous propensities.
Knowledge may be shown where the dog has previously bitten someone, known as the “one-bite rule.” Knowledge may also be proven by showing other aggressive conduct such as lunging, snapping, excessive barking or snarling, and similar behavior.
Finally, homeowners may be found liable for dog bites that occur on their property, even if they do not own the dog. Generally, such liability will require a showing of negligence on the homeowner’s part.
DOG OWNER RESPONSIBILITY
Many states may have either state or local laws governing the responsibility a dog owner may have for their dog. While these laws vary from state to state, they may require owners to properly leash or muzzle their dogs when in public.
Other laws may require owners to close off their property containing a dog or post warning signs on the property. If your state has any such regulations in effect, the dog’s owner may be liable if their dog bites someone. Ultimately, you should check your state and local laws for specific rules that dog owners must follow.
WHO CAN I SUE?
Typically, the most common party to sue if you have been bitten by a dog will be the dog’s owner. The dog’s owner may be liable if the dog bites you, especially if the owner was negligent in failing to properly restrain the dog, such as by not complying with a local leash law. The owner may also be liable in some cases if the dog’s “dangerous propensities” were already known, such as if the dog had previously bitten someone.
Further, you may also be able to sue the homeowner if the dog bite occurred on the homeowner’s property. Generally, the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy may cover these claims. These policies typically provide coverage for any injuries, damages, or accidents that may occur on the homeowner’s property, including dog bites.
FILING A DOG BITE CLAIM
Speak with an Attorney
The most important step in seeking any compensation you may be entitled to is to contact an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. To pursue compensation, you may often need a lawyer who knows the laws concerning dog bites. By speaking with an attorney, you may better understand your options for seeking compensation from the dog’s owner or the owner’s insurer. Finally, an attorney may handle your claim for compensation for you.
After you have hired an attorney, your attorney may conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. During this investigation, the lawyer may gather any available evidence to show the dog owner’s liability. This evidence includes any possible negligence of the dog owner such as failing to keep the dog leashed or otherwise properly restrained. Your lawyer may also interview witnesses to the dog bite. Finally, your lawyer may investigate the local and state laws where you were bitten to determine whether the dog’s owner violated any leash laws or other relevant statutes or ordinances.
After an investigation, your attorney may then negotiate with the other party or their insurer. An insurer will have its own attorneys experienced in reducing the insurer’s costs as much as possible. Often, your attorney may make an offer, which will typically be rejected and met with a counteroffer by the insurer. This negotiation may go back and forth between the two sides until a mutually agreeable settlement is reached.
However, your attorney may be unable to reach a satisfactory settlement. If so, your attorney may then take your case to trial. Here, your lawyer may present evidence showing the dog owner’s negligence or liability for your injuries and damages from the dog bite.
DOG BITE COMPENSATION
If you are successful in proving liability, you may be entitled to compensation. Compensation for dog bite victims is typically calculated by adding any economic damages together with any non-economic damages, including:
Medical Expenses: These expenses include any medical costs you incurred as a result of the dog bite, including ambulance fees, diagnosis and examination costs, and any necessary treatment such as surgery, medication, or therapy.
Lost Wages: You may be able to seek compensation for any loss of income resulting from any inability to work as you recovered from injuries suffered from the dog bite.
Loss of Earning Potential: You may also be able to pursue compensation for any loss of earning potential if you are now no longer able to earn the same level of income or perform the necessary job duties for your occupation. Calculating the amount of these damages will take into consideration your salary before and after the dog bite as well as your age and any other potentially relevant factors.
Pain and Suffering: Damages for pain and suffering may also be available for the pain and anguish you may have suffered as a result of your injuries from the dog bite. Pain and suffering damages are generally calculated on a case-by-case basis. This calculation will take into consideration both the severity of your injuries and their impact on your quality of life.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
If you are seeking compensation for a dog bite, any lawsuit must be brought within a certain time frame after you were bitten. Each state has a statute of limitations specifying this time limit. Any lawsuit brought after this time limit will usually not be allowed. The statute of limitations for dog bites varies, but typically ranges between one to six years. Many states have a statute of limitations of two or three years, mirroring the time limits for other personal injury claims.
WHY HIRE A DOG BITE LAWYER?
Hiring an experienced dog bite lawyer may often be crucial in seeking any compensation you may be entitled to. Insurers will have many lawyers whose only job is to save the insurer as much as money as possible, by paying you as little as possible. An attorney may help you file your claim seeking compensation, investigate the facts, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
By hiring an attorney, you may rely on them to handle your claim. They may also present a more formidable opponent to the insurer’s own lawyers. Often, insurers may base settlement offers on their perception of the likely outcome at trial. A dog bite lawyer may strengthen your case and your bargaining position to gain more favorable settlement offers from the insurer.
Can I get compensation for a dog bite?
You may be entitled to compensation if you have been bitten by a dog. However, you will first need to prove liability on the part of the dog’s owner or insurer. You may be able to pursue compensation if you can show that the dog owner was negligent. You may also be able to seek compensation in states that hold dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs.
However, you may be unable to seek compensation in some cases. For instance, states that still recognize the “one-bite rule” may not hold dog owners liable if the owner did not have prior knowledge of the dog’s “dangerous propensities.” Further, if you are unable to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner, you may also not be able to pursue compensation for your injuries.
How long does it take for a dog bite settlement?
The amount of time that it may take to possibly reach a settlement in a dog bite case varies from case to case. The length of time often depends on several factors. These include the:
extent of your injuries;
amount of investigation required into the dog bite;
strength of your case; and
success of your attorney in negotiating a possible settlement that avoids trial.
If your case goes to trial, it may take significantly longer to conclude. Often, it may take as little as six months to reach a settlement in your case, or as long as two years or more, especially if your case goes to trial.
How long after a dog bite can you sue?
You can usually file a lawsuit seeking compensation for a dog bite so long as you are within the statute of limitations for dog bites. Most states generally have a time limit ranging from one to six years. However, the typical time limit is often two or three years.