Dog Bite Compensation
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Dog bite compensation is awarded to those who have been bitten by a dog as a result of a dog owner’s negligence. Statistics show that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. For instance, a dog owner may not have adequately trained or supervised their dog. If an unsupervised or ill-trained dog causes an injury to an innocent victim, the injured person may be entitled to seek compensation from the dog owner.
How Much Is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
The value of your case is heavily dependent on several factors, such as:
- The severity of your injuries
- Cost of medical care – post dog bite and future care
- Lost wages – current and future lost wages
- Pain, suffering and emotional distress
- Who is responsible for the injuries?
Speaking with an attorney will help you uncover an estimate of how much your case is worth.
How to File a Claim
1. Medical Attention
It is essential that after you receive a dog bite to seek medical attention. Though most dog owners now take their dogs to veterinarians for a rabies shot, you can never be sure. Therefore, seek rabies or tetanus shot right away. This will not only be beneficial to your health, but also to your claim as you will need to show proof of your injuries which is usually done through a medical report.
Having evidence to support your claim is important. So be sure to file a dog bite report. Whether it is to an animal control agency or the police or sheriff department, you should report the attack. This report may be useful when making a claim.
It would help if you also took photographs of your wounds as these will show the injuries sustained. Furthermore, you should keep any items that relate to the dog bite. For instance, keep the clothes you wore on the day of the attack, keep medical bills and other receipts for expenses related to the dog bite, keep letters from the dog owner’s insurance company, etc.
3. Do Not Respond to Dog Owner’s Insurance Company
Soon after a dog bite injury, the dog owner’s insurance company will likely contact you. They will ask you for a statement regarding the incident or access to your medical records. It is advisable to decline these requests until you have spoken to a lawyer as they may affect your ability to seek just compensation. They may also ask you to sign a release or to accept a settlement offer. It is advisable to decline these requests also until you speak with an attorney as insurance companies are infamously known to offer lower settlement amounts to try and persuade victims to settle quickly.
4. Call an Attorney
An experienced attorney is an asset that can strengthen your claim and help you seek the maximum compensation available. In doing so, your attorney will investigate your claim, gather all relevant documentation and evidence and negotiate with the insurance company for you. They will seek to settle your case as quickly as possible and with your best interest in mind.
Children and Compensation
A child bitten by a dog, will not be in a position to bring a claim forward. The reason being that they are deemed a minor and in most cases, a minor cannot bring a lawsuit against a dog owner themselves.
However, the parents or legal guardians of the child can file a lawsuit on behalf of the child. Should a claim be settled the monies that are awarded to the child are released to the child when they turn 18.
To discuss your child’s dog bite case with an attorney for free, call us at (888) 314-6671.
Your ability to file a claim depends on the state you live in. Your state may have relatively straight forward dog bite laws, which states that the dog owner is responsible for any injury or property damage that his or her dog causes. On the other hand, other states may have a “one-bite” rule in which the owner is liable only if he or she knew that their dog was dangerous.
Dog Owner Negligence
A claim is generally made against the dog owner as a result of negligence. To make a successful claim, it must be proven that the dog owner was negligent or new that their dog was dangerous and did not implement the correct preventative measures, such as muzzling the dog in public.
However, be aware that your claim may not succeed if you received the dog bite while trespassing on the dog owner’s property. Likewise, if you provoked the dog or received a warning that the dog was dangerous, you may not be able to file a successful claim.
Common Types of Settlements
Dog bite injuries can range from mild cuts to severe disfigurement and compensation will vary depending on the severity of the injury and specifics of the incident. Below is a list of common dog bite injuries:
- Nerve damage
If you or your loved one suffer from these injuries due to a negligent dog owner, you will likely be able to seek a settlement from the dog owner. Below is a non-exhaustive list of things you may seek reimbursement for:
- Present and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Emotional distress
Dealing with Homeowners Insurance
If a dog owner has homeowners insurance, they will likely have some protection from dog bite liability. Though insurance policies vary from company to company, an insurance company typically provides coverage for claims costing up to $100,000 to $300,000. However, some companies will not cover for the dog owner’s liability if their dog is a specific type of breed. For instance, some companies do not protect the dog owner if their dog is deemed to be of a dangerous breed. These breeds include Pit Bulls and Rottweilers.
Your attorney will guide you through the negotiation process; however, it will ultimately be your decision to settle or note as the negotiations proceed.
Settling a claim with an insurance company may leave you with less than you might receive with an attorney at your side. The insurance company will attempt to settle quickly and move on, and in doing so may not factor in aspects such as future medical care, future lost wages or any rehabilitation costs. This is why it is advisable to speak with a lawyer before agreeing to any settlement with an insurance company.
How Is Dog Bite Compensation Calculated?
In general, a settlement is calculated by accounting the victim’s economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses can include factors such as:
- Medical costs – A severe dog bite is not something that can be treated with an inexpensive home first-aid kid. After a dog bite injury, an ambulance or even an airlift may be required to transport the victim to a hospital. Once the victim is at the hospital, a doctor may have to perform a suture or surgery.
- Future medical costs – Even after the initial treatment, there may be additional medical costs to prevent a post-operation infection or expenses associated with rehabilitation.
- Lost earnings
- Future lost earnings
- Other expenses stemming from the incident
Non-economic losses include factors that are more difficult to calculate than economic losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental suffering due to post-traumatic stress and scars
Dog bite victims may also be able to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are essentially additional compensation awarded to the victim to punish the dog owner in cases where their actions may be considered deliberate.
Note: The average dog bite compensation award will depend on the state you live in, the specifics of your case and the actions of the dog owner. An attorney can help you in determining the value of your case.
Legal Time Limits
In general, the time limit to file a dog bite lawsuit is going to be the same as filing a claim for personal injuries. Because the time limit to file a personal injury claim can vary between one year and six years after the injury—depending on the state you reside in—you can expect to have a similar amount of time to file a dog bite claim. However, it would help if you spoke to an attorney in your state to learn more about legal time limits related to your particular case.S
Talk to Zinda Law Group
For a 100% free consultation with a dog bite lawyer, feel free to contact Zinda Law Group at (888) 314-6671. Our injury lawyers work on a no win no fee basis, meaning that you will pay us nothing if we don’t win your case. We believe that our clients should have to worry about legal free when seeking closure on their case – that’s our no fee guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.