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Have you been hurt by a dog bite? Bites can be painful, and being attacked by a dog can be very traumatizing.
Even worse is when a dog attacks and bites someone you love, like your child. A child is smaller and can be severely injured by a bite.
Dog bites accounted for more than 33% of homeowner’s liability payouts in 2017. That amounts to $700 million in a single year.
If you or someone you love has been hurt by a dog, you may wonder if you have a case for a dog bite lawsuit. Here’s what you need to know as you consider your rights.
A Settlement Vs. A Dog Bite Lawsuit
If you’ve contacted the owner of the dog about a bite, they may be offering you a settlement amount through their insurance company. Should you take it?
If your injuries are not significant and you don’t want to worry about going to court, you may want to choose an insurance settlement. You may get less money than you would have gotten in court, but you don’t have to deal with the hassle of a lawyer and going to court.
On the other hand, you may feel that the settlement the insurance company offered was unfair. Perhaps it didn’t take into account lost wages due to your injury, or emotional distress you suffered. Or, you may have injuries that will have significant long-term costs and you want fair compensation for that care.
In that case, you probably want to pursue a dog bite lawsuit. If you do decide to move forward with suing for a dog bite, here are the steps to take to pursue your case.
Hire a Lawyer
The first thing you’re going to need is a professional lawyer in your corner.
The homeowner’s insurance adjuster is not on your side – they will want to settle for as little money as possible. To get the compensation you truly deserve, you’ll need your own lawyer to review the case.
Just because you have a lawyer doesn’t mean you have to go to court. A great lawyer will know how to review your dog bite injury and present the case to the insurance company so you get fair compensation.
There’s no way to find out how much of a settlement you truly deserve without a lawyer who has access to previous cases. Choose a skilled professional who can make a strong case.
Know What You’re Owed
When thinking about suing for dog bites, many people don’t realize how much of a disruption a dog bite can cause. There are a lot of costs beyond simply the medical costs.
Here are some of the things you can also be paid for:
- All medical bills, past, present, and future
- The repair or replacement of damaged property
- Lost wages of time off work for medical treatment or rehab
- The cost of hiring help at home while you recover
- Permanent injury or disfigurement as the result of a bite
- Emotional distress stemming from the incident
When you look at the whole picture, it’s unlikely that the initial insurance offer even comes close. That’s why it’s often a good idea to pursue a dog bite lawsuit.
Carefully Document All of Your Costs
You can’t demand payment for expenses you can’t prove. As a result, it’s vital to keep careful track of every element of the costs you incur from the dog bite.
Take pictures of the injury immediately after the event. Take additional pictures if the injury gets worse, or if new issues arise. In an injury case, a picture truly is worth 1000 words!
Keep the receipts and records of the medical care you received after the case. Write down a statement talking about the physical and emotional pain you have endured due to the dog bite.
Get documentation from your workplace about time you missed and what your usual pay is. Finally, keep all receipts for any products or services you buy related to your injury. This includes everything from bandages to cleaning services to take care of your home while you recover.
All of this documentation will make it much easier for your lawyer to prove your dog bite lawsuit. Depending on the laws in your state, you may be able to win compensation for all of these costs, plus punitive damages.
Know the History of the Dog
If you don’t know the owner or the dog that bit you, it can be challenging to establish a strong case regarding the pet’s history of violence. Your lawyer will probably hire professionals to interview friends and relatives of the owner, as well as researching breed characteristics.
An unknown dog can also be put through a professional evaluation to assess if the dog has violent tendencies or not. The results of the evaluation can be part of the evidence your lawyer submits.
However, if you can add to your lawyer’s research in this area, it can really help your case. If you know that the dog has bitten someone before, you have a strong case for negligence. If the dog has been violent toward other pets in the home, that can be a significant factor as well.
Return to Health After a Dog Bite
If you’ve been injured by a dog, you may take a long time to recover. Sometimes, a strong fitness routine can help your rehabilitation.
Do you have the workouts you need? Do you know how to stretch and avoid injury as you recover? We would love to help. Visit our health and fitness section to help you get back on your feet after your injury!