How To File A Dog Bite Claim
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For many, dogs are like family. They are kind, gentle, and loving family pets. However, some dogs, among other animals, can be dangerous and pose a threat to individuals and animals alike. Being attacked by a dog can be frightening, unexpected, and serious. The injuries a dog inflicts can even be quite painful.
Dog bite-related injuries are quite common but can lead to painful consequences. While dog bites are common, not many people are aware that dog bites can lead to legal consequences for owners and compensation for victims. The legal process following an injury can be intimidating, but thankfully you don’t have to go through it alone.
At Zinda Law Group, our Dog bite lawyers may be able to help. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dog bite, call Zinda Law Group at (888) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our dog bite attorneys today.
What is a Dog Bite Claim?
As of 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention releases statistics that estimated 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. If a dog has bitten you, you may be entitled to file a legal claim for compensation. These claims arise when an individual is bitten or harmed by a dog, and that bite leads to an injury. When another person’s dog injures you, that dog owner can be held liable for their dog’s actions.
The laws surrounding dog bites vary from state to state. Therefore, it is crucial to become familiar with the laws covering dog bites where you live. Speaking with an attorney may be the best way to do that.
How to file a Dog Bite Claim
Step 1 – Determine Who Is At Fault
As mentioned, the specifics of what you need to prove a who is liable for the bite varies based on the state in which you live or where the injury occurred. However, dog bite liability can primarily be established by either showing one that the dog owner was negligent in some form.
Some of the ways in which your lawyer will work on this are by proving one of the following aspects:
Traditional negligence calls for the plaintiff to show that the dog’s owner owed the injured party a duty of care, and breached this duty of care. Your lawyer will work to prove that this breach of duty led to their injuries. The breach can arise from failure to properly secure a dog or take proper precautions to keep a dog away from others if they are known to be dangerous.
One Bite Rule
Some states abide by this “one-bite” rule. The one-bite rule means that liability is based upon whether the owner knew their dog has a previous bite history or had the potential to bite someone. This rule is a standard that asks whether an owner knew or should have known their animal was a threat to others.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is another way to establish liability through negligence. This means that a party’s negligence arose from their breach of a statute or local ordinance. For example, if your state has laws about leashing all dogs while they are on walks, and you are bitten by a dog who was roaming freely, the owner may be found automatically negligent by the sole fact they did not comply with the law.
Lastly, some states abide by a standard of strict liability. Strict liability means that a defendant is liable if a specific condition is met, regardless of what the defendant specifically did or didn’t do. If a strict liability dog bite statute applies, a defendant can often be found automatically liable if their dog bit another person while that person was somewhere they were legally allowed to be and if the injured party did not provoke the dog.
STEP 2: Document your Claim
Compared to other personal injury claims, dog bites can be often a lot simpler and having documentation to support your claim will go a long way when your lawyer is building your case. Some important aspects to record are:
The most crucial step to take after any personal injury is to receive the necessary medical care. This is not only important for your well-being, but it is additionally important in being able to file a claim. Medical professionals can prepare an official record of injuries and their costs, which can be used as evidence in fighting your claim.
Keep a record of all your medical expenses and any other expenses related to your injury. For example, if you can no longer drive and need to take public transport or cabs to get to and from hospital appointments, keep a note of these. If your injury has left you unable to walk, permanently damaged a part of your body the left you needing to alter your home to facilitate your impaired movement, these costs would also come into play.
Take photographs of everything, make sure you photograph your injuries, if you can where the bite occurred, if there is anything relevant at the scene of the bite, was the dog on a leash, if not take a picture of the dog to prove so.
Were there any eyewitnesses to the attack? If so, take their details, contact information and a statement of their account of the incident. These will be very useful when your attorney is building your claim.
Step 3 – Call A Dog Bite Lawyer
Before speaking with the other side’s insurance, speak with an attorney first. If you make a statement to the insurance and you did not prepare, they may confuse you, ask questions in a way that may prompt you to admit fault or harm your case. Your attorney will be able to:
- Advise you on the next steps involved in your claim
- Prep you for speaking with the insurance company
- Investigate your case
- Help you establish an estimated value of your claim
- Negotiate with insurance companies for compensation
- Allow you to focus on your recovery while they focus on seeking compensation for your injuries.
Claims arising from a dog bite can develop from different scenarios and involve different types of dogs. Here are some of the common types of dog bite cases:
Non-aggressive dog accidents:
Dog bites can occur from non-aggressive dogs that unintentionally attack humans. Sometimes dogs can become excited and may jump on or bite a person, which is their way of trying to interact with the human. Although it is not their intention to hurt you, dog owners may still be liable for the actions of their non-aggressive animals.
Dangerous dog breeds
Some dogs, depending on their upbringing or their bread, can be more inherently dangerous than others. These breeds, either because of their breed or because of their treatment by their owner, often have a higher tendency to attack humans. In this case, an owner may be liable for not taking the proper precautions to safeguard other people from their dog who they know or should know is potentially more dangerous.
Dog attacks on young children
Dog bites on children can be particularly hazardous because children are so vulnerable. Children who have been attacked and bitten by a dog not only experience physical injuries but they often experience emotional trauma from the incidents as well.
How Long Does a Dog Bite Claim Take?
How long it takes to fight your claim is heavily dependent on the circumstances surrounding your case. Thus, it is hard to give a generally applicable estimate of how long your claim will take. Here a few factors that may affect the length of time it takes to handle your claim:
- The severity of your injuries
- Your medical treatment
- Your recovery time
- Settlement options
- The decision to pursue further legal action by going to trial
Speak with your attorney to help determine an estimated timeline of events for your particular case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
If you’re considering filing a claim for an injury sustained from a dog bite, it’s essential to understand your state’s statute of limitations regarding personal injury claims. The statute of limitations is the law in your state that establishes a time limit on your ability to bring a particular type of claim.
The standard time limit for personal injury claims is between 2-3 years. However, this can vary depending on which state you live in.
Failure to file a claim within your states designated statute of limitations will most likely result in the refusal of a court to hear your claim.
Speak with an attorney to learn more about how the statute of limitations may affect your case.
How much does it cost to file a claim?
Zinda Law Group works on a contingency fee basis, and this means that if we do not win your case, you will pay us nothing. This is also known as a no win no fee agreement.
When you start your journey of making a claim, your attorney will meet with you for a 100% free consultation to assess your claim, tell you their opinion on whether they believe you have a viable claim or not and advise you of the next steps.
We want this process to be as easy and stress-free as possible for you. You shouldn’t have to worry about legal fees, and that is why you pay us nothing unless we win your case.
Tell Us About Your Case
At Zinda Law Group, our dog bite attorneys take our client’s cases personally, and we carefully prepare the claim based on the damages suffered by the individual. For a free consultation, call our dog bite attorneys on (888) 863-5312 to discuss your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.