How to Calculate the Value of the Dog Bite Injury

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Injuries resulting from dog bites can detrimentally impact a victim’s life. Dog bite victims may suffer from debilitating injuries and hefty medical bills as a result of the incident.

Dog bite laws differ depending on where the injury occurred.  Thus, it is imperative that victims know what to do if they fall victim to a dog attack, especially those that result in substantial harm or injury.  The value of your dog bite case depends on a variety of factors.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free case evaluation with our dog bite injury attorneys.

What Should I Do if I’m Attacked by Someone’s Dog?

Seek Medical Attention

If you are the victim of a dog bite, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the initial attack.  Even if you are experiencing no discomfort or pain, you should still visit a healthcare professional to avoid developing subsequent injuries later on.  Additionally, visiting a medical professional may help create an official record of your specific injuries that can be referred back to if you later wish to explore your available legal options.

Report the Accident

If you are involved in a dog bite attack, report it to the appropriate authority.  In many dog bite cases, this will be your local animal control agency.  If contacted, the agency will make an official report of the incident that will likely include witness information, obvious injuries, and potential causes of the incident.  Depending on where the accident occurred, you may be required by law to report the accident.

Obtain a Professional Opinion

The laws surrounding dog bite liability vary by jurisdiction.  Each state and municipality has its own set of rules that may affect your ability to recover compensation for your injury.  Some cities even have breed-specific rules governing some of the more dangerous breeds, like pit bulls.  Thus, it may be beneficial to obtain an opinion from a legal professional to help navigate the complex legal system.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Every dog bite is different.  Each incident may result in different injuries and damages.  If you are injured by a dog bite, it is important that you document your injuries.  Additionally, you may need to know what kind of injuries you sustained so that you can provide adequate testimony to the court if you wish to bring a claim against the responsible party.  There are many different types of injuries, but some are especially common in cases involving dog bites:

  • Abrasions
  • Lacerations
  • Punctures
  • Infections
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Crushing injuries
  • Avulsion
  • Scarring
  • Nerve damage
  • Death

Read More: Dog Bite Statistics

How Are Dog Bite Injuries Classified?

Dog bite injuries are typically categorized based on an objective evaluation of wound pathology.  Your ability to recover damages may be dependent, at least partly, on this evaluation.  Luckily, wound experts created a sliding scale that assesses the severity of dog bites.  According to Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale, there are six levels of dog bites:

  • Level 1: exhibited aggressive or obnoxious behavior but made no skin-contact with teeth.
  • Level 2: skin-contact with teeth, but no skin-puncture. This level includes skin nicks and slight bleeding caused by forward or lateral movements of teeth against skin; does not include vertical punctures.
  • Level 3: one to four punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. This level may include lacerations caused by the victim or dog pulling away after the initial bite.
  • Level 4: one to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. Deep bruising or severe lacerations may also be present at this level.
  • Level 5: multiple-bite incident with at least two Level 4 wounds or multiple-attack incident with at least one Level 4 bite in each.
  • Level 6: victim dies.

Common Causes of Dog Bites

Although dog bite incidents may appear unpredictable, there are some common causes of dog bites that may help owners prevent future incidents. If prevention is not possible, knowing the reasons behind a dog bite may help pinpoint responsible parties who share legal liability in a claim.  Some common causes of dog bites include:

1. Fear

Many dogs bite because they are afraid of some part of their immediate surroundings.  A dog may feel threatened by the presence of an unknown person or animal.  A threatened dog may attack in an attempt to protect itself or its owner.

2. Protection

Some dogs may be trained to protect their property or owners.  As a result of this training, many dogs feel territorial.  Many dog bites are caused by an unknown individual interfering with the dog’s territory.

3. Sickness

Dogs may lash out when they are sick due to increased irritability and sensitivity.  Specifically, dogs may react more harshly to children or other animals during these times.

Even though pinpointing the root cause of a dog bite may be important for liability reasons, there are a number of steps that individuals should take to avoid becoming the victim of a dog bite.  Specifically, people should avoid interacting, confronting, or antagonizing unfamiliar animals, especially without the permission of the owner.

What Can a Dog Bite Lawyer Do for Me?

1. Determine Applicable Laws

Different jurisdictions have different laws that govern dog bite liability claims.  For instance, each state places a statute of limitations on how long a victim has to file a claim.  In most states, the statute of limitations is two or three years.  The statute of limitations usually starts running on the date of the attack.  Unfortunately, if you do not file your complaint within the allotted time period, you may be unable to bring your claim at all. In addition to filing deadlines, different states have various standards regarding negligence claims.  An individual may be liable for negligence based on violating animal control laws, failing to stop an attack, or breaching general landlord duties.  A dog bite lawyer may be able to help you understand and apply these varying laws to your claim.

2. Assess Party Liability

An experienced lawyer may be able to help you assess the facts of your claim and allocate the parties’ fault accordingly.  In many claims, determining who is liable can be daunting, especially when there are multiple parties involved.  A lawyer may be able to help you determine who may be responsible for your injuries.  Additionally, an injury attorney may be able to assist you in determining how much compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries based upon each party’s percentage of fault.

3. Assist You in Evidence Collection and Organization

Keeping documentation about the accident is important to prove that the responsible party caused your dog bite injuries.  Unavoidably, as time passes, involved parties and eyewitnesses alike begin to forget important facts about an incident.  Even though a detail may not seem relevant at the time, it may become extremely important if you later choose to seek compensation.  Consequently, it is critical that you document every detail of the attack immediately after it happens.  A dog bite attorney may be able to help you collect this evidence and organize it in preparation for litigation.

4. Negotiate a Fair Settlement

The at-fault party may have an insurance policy to cover their liability in the case of an accident, which means if their dog injured you, you may be able to receive compensation from their insurance company.  When dealing with these large companies, you should have a lawyer with knowledge of the law and negotiation experience, especially when attempting to reach a settlement agreement.  Insurance companies usually want to minimize how much they pay you, so having an experienced lawyer by your side may help protect your interests.

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF MY DOG BITE CASE?

Some states, like Texas, adhere to the “one bite rule,” which establishes the requirements for holding an owner liable for harm inflicted by a domestic animal.  In Texas, for example, an injured person seeking to recover damages for a dog bite must show that the dog’s owner knew that the dog had a tendency for aggressive behavior or that the dog’s owner was negligent in controlling the animal and/or preventing the bite from occurring.  Additionally, that negligence must be the cause of the plaintiff’s ultimate injuries.

In some other states, like Arizona, dog owners are strictly liable for the injuries their dogs cause, regardless of whether the owner was negligent or not.

If you have been injured in a dog bite incident, you may be entitled to damages.  However, those damages can vary widely depending on the specifics of your claim.  Damages can range from reimbursement for medical expenses to compensation for long-term injuries.  The factors that may impact how much you can recover generally include:

  • How severe your injuries were
  • How much you incurred in medical expenses
  • Whether any property was damaged
  • Whether the dog owner was grossly negligent or acted intentionally
  • Other factors depending on your jurisdiction

In some cases, courts may even permit closely related bystanders to also recover for emotional distress occurring out of the incident.

You may be able to recover damages for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Physical pain
  • Loss of consortium
  • Property damage
  • Emotional trauma

Get Help From Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

Incidents involving dog bites can cause substantial disruption to an injured individual’s life.  If you are the victim of a dog attack and sustain injuries, you should contact a lawyer who handles dog bite injury cases as soon as possible.  A personal injury attorney may be able to help you seek legal recourse for any damages related to the incident and evaluate the specific facts of your claim.

At Zinda Law Group, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue the highest compensation possible.  Our team of experienced dog bite injury attorneys may help you determine the value of your dog bite case.

If you have been injured in a dog bite incident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our experienced dog bite injury lawyers.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.