Dog Bite Lawyer
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A dog bite lawyer helps seek compensation for those who have been bitten by a dog. Dog bite accidents are a common occurrence in the US. According to statistics presented by the American Veterinary Medical Association, there were roughly 69,926,000 dogs owned by American families in 2012, and that number has only continued to grow. When properly trained, dogs provide a sense of loyalty and companionship, making it no wonder they are called “man’s best friend.”
Unfortunately, dog attacks can also cause serious injuries, which can result in pain, suffering, and even death. Dog owners take on a certain amount of responsibility for the actions of their dog, and they may be held liable when the actions of their dog lead to serious injury.
Types of Dog Bite Lawsuits
There are a few different types of dog bite lawsuits and determining which general category your claim falls under is an important first step.
This category encompasses what most people think of when they think of a dog attack—a dog breaks loose from a leash and aggressively bites the victim. Cases may differ based on the type of dog, as some insurance policies will exclude coverage for breeds considered to be dangerous, like Pit Bulls or Rottweilers.
Dogs can bite without displaying any aggression at all. If not properly trained, a dog may nip when it gets excited, and depending on the breed, these bites may be enough to cause injury.
Dog on Dog Aggression
A dog acting aggressively can cause injuries to the people who happen to be nearby, as well as to the dog itself. The law may cover pain and suffering for humans, but it will not cover it for dogs.
What to Do After Being Bitten By a Dog
When you are bitten by a dog, it is important to follow a few steps to keep yourself as healthy as possible and that, from a legal standpoint, you have all you need to seek compensation:
1. Seek Medical Attention
First and foremost, address your immediate medical needs. Because dog bites can lead to serious complications, it is important that you visit a doctor. Even a bite that seems relatively harmless can lead to infection if left untreated.
2. Document the Incident
Documenting the incident can be useful if you file a compensation claim. Some pieces of information worth documenting are:
- File a dog bite report
- Pictures of your injuries and the place where the incident took place,
- Dog owner contact information
- Details of any witnesses to the attack
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
Generally speaking, the better documentation you have, the easier it will be to assess the amount of compensation you deserve.
3. Speak with An Attorney
Finally, it is important that you contact a dog bite attorney. The laws in each state vary and consulting with an attorney who has experience in this area of law may help you in your pursuit of compensation.
In any lawsuit, liability needs to be established to seek any compensation. In dog bite cases, the person at fault for the injuries is typically the owner of the dog. There are a few ways that liability can be imposed on dog owners.
One type of liability is strict liability, wherein a dog owner is liable for any damage caused by their dog, so long as the dog was not provoked.
Another type of rule that imposes liability is the so-called “one-bite rule,” where dog owners will only be held liable for the injuries caused by their dog if they had reason to know that their dog was dangerous. The laws concerning dog owner liability vary greatly depending on the state and the facts of each specific case.
Filing a Dog Bite Claim
Once you have taken care of your immediate medical needs and decided that you want to file a lawsuit, there are a few steps that need to be taken.
1. Speak with an Attorney
Explain your situation is as much detail as possible to your attorney. This will help them in building the most persuasive case possible for you.
Once you have brought your case to an attorney, they will begin the process of investigating the incident. This includes things like contacting witnesses, as well as determining if the dog has a history of aggression. At this time your attorney will do all they can to build a strong case for you.
Your attorney will work with you in negotiating a settlement with the other side. Having competent representation at this stage in the process is critical in ensuring that you are seeking the compensation you deserve.
Dog Bite Compensation
While the average value of a dog bite claim will vary, compensation is generally comprised of the following factors:
Economic damages help the victim recover any financial losses suffered after a dog bite and include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills, which may include the cost or rehabilitation
- Lost income
- Future lost income
- Other expenses incurred as a result of the injury
Non-economic damages include non-financial damages suffered. These non-financial damages generally include:
- Pain and suffering, both emotional and physical
- Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
Non-economic damages may be harder to establish, that’s why speaking with an attorney may help you in uncovering the true value of your case.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the dog owner if their actions were intentional and they set out to cause harm to the victim.
Legal Time Limits – Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time that a dog attack victim has to file a claim after an incident. This can range from one year to a few years depending on the state. If you seek compensation after the time limit has run out, you may not be in a position to move forward with your claim.
Generally speaking, beginning the process by speaking to an attorney as soon as possible after an incident will make sure that you do not miss out on compensation due to the statute of limitations.
Causes of Dog Bite Injuries
Dogs may be provoked to biting by several situations:
Dogs may bite when they think they are “defending their turf.” For example, the dog of a friend may bite when you enter their house if the dog thinks you are intruding. Dog owners who know that their dog can be very territorial and fail to keep visitors safe from their potentially aggressive dog may be held liable if their dog bites a visitor.
Many situations may provoke a dog to bite. For example, jogging past a house may trigger a chase reflex in a dog, which could result in the animal biting its victim. Additionally, merely moving into the dog’s space may trigger a bite from a dog who has not been adequately socialized.
People tend to put their face close to a dog’s face a sign of affection. This is not a good idea, especially if you don’t know the dog or the dog does not know you. This can lead to facial biting and long term scarring.
Certain herding breeds, like Border Collies, may instinctively nip at children as it attempts to “herd” them.
Pregnant dogs or dogs that have just given birth may be particularly defensive if a stranger approaches them or their litter. In these cases, the dog owner has a responsibility to ensure the safety people who have the potential to come into contact with the dog.
Dog bites can lead to a variety of different injuries that range in severity from small cuts to, in extreme circumstances, death.
Lacerations and Puncture Wounds
Dog bites can lead to deep wounds in the skin that require extensive medical attention to fix. Even after the immediate injuries of the victim are addressed, these wounds can lead to severe scarring.
Dog bites that go deep enough can cause damage to nerves, which can lead to consequences ranging from a temporary loss of function to permanent damage, including paralysis. There is an even more severe risk of damage when dealing with facial bites, which can result in loss of senses like hearing or sight, not to mention facial disfigurement.
The risk of infection from dog bites is extremely high. Dog bites can inject bacteria deep into the tissue of the victim, some of the most common types being Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Pasteurella. Additionally, there is a risk of being infected with rabies if the dog has not been adequately immunized.
Depending on the situation, a severe dog bite can even lead to PTSD in the victim. Dog bites can be traumatic events, particularly in children, and may require extensive psychological attention in the form of counseling or therapy just for the victim to be able to live a healthy, normal life.
Dog Owner Responsibility
Ultimately, the responsibility for training and controlling a dog falls on the dog owner. Determining exactly what dog owners need to do to be responsible pet owners, however, depends on the laws of each state.
Not all jurisdictions mandate that a dog must be on a leash when it is off the owner’s property, but some do. This means that, in a jurisdiction with a leash law, the owner of a dog will most likely be liable if the dog bites someone while it is unleashed in a public area.
Dog owners must make sure that their dog has all of the proper immunizations as mandated by their jurisdiction. A violation of these rules may lead to liability for all of the resulting injuries caused by the lack of vaccination.
Certain states and cities have enacted legislation that governs only the ownership of certain breeds, most commonly Pit Bulls. These laws range from total bans to giving additional responsibility to the owners of certain dog breeds. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to make sure that they understand and follow the regulations that deal with their particular dog.
Why Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer
The legal process is very complicated and difficult to navigate for those who are not experienced in it. A typical dog bite victim may not know how to handle their own case or through lack of knowledge of what compensation entails, may settle for less than what their case is worth.
For these reasons, hiring an experienced attorney will help to ensure that your rights are protected and that you seek adequate compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get compensation for a dog bite?
This depends on a few factors. For example, you must be in a public place or on somebody else’s property (with permission). Being bitten by a dog while you are trespassing on another’s property may make it difficult to establish a claim. In addition, the dog must be owned by somebody. Being attacked by a dog with no owner means that there is nobody to collect money from.
How long does it take for a dog bite settlement?
This depends on the facts of each case. If the liability of the owner is clear, then your case may settle more quickly than it would if the case is more complication and fault is not clear.
If your case is a bit more complicated, then it may go to trial. A very small percentage of cases make it to a courtroom, as most are settled before this stage. However, if your case does go to trial, your attorney will walk you through the process every step of the way.
Talk to Zinda Law Group
Our dog bite lawyers have the resources and experience needed to build a strong case for you and to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that everybody should have access to the legal representation to help them seek compensation, regardless of how much it may cost. This is why we offer a No Win No Fee Guarantee to all of our clients. This means that if we do not win your case, you pay us nothing.
For more information and to speak with a lawyer, call us at 888-988-7063 for a 100% free consultation.
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