What To Do After a Dog Bite
From the fluffy and cute chihuahua to the ferocious bulldog, dogs are considered man’s best friend. Pet lovers might claim that they are quite loyal companions. Dog owners ensure the animals are fed and groomed, taken out for walks and playing ‘fetch’. However, this adorable animal could become aggressive and completely alter people’s lives.
According to a study from the Centers For Disease Control, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites require medical care. From biting the electrician to chasing the mailman, these animals could cause serious injuries. If you have suffered a dog bite, it’s your legal right to seek reimbursement. The money can be used for medical expenses, as well as emotional scars that could remain with you for a long time.
Compensation Through Insurance
Did you know that dog attacks account for over a third of all homeowner insurance claims? More than 600 million dollars are paid out because of injuries from dogs every year. After being injured, if the homeowner has insurance, the injured person will file the claim directly with the insurance company. However, these insurance companies know what they’re doing and are always looking for ways to minimize the compensation amount. This is especially true if the case is worth a lot of money.
Filing a Lawsuit
What if the insurance company doesn’t offer you any money? What if the owner doesn’t even have insurance? You still have an option of collecting for your damages by filing a lawsuit. Before doing so, though, it’s a good idea to at least consult a personal injury attorney who specializes in dog bite cases. They are aware of the technicalities of such cases, so their input is invaluable. It’s possible that the insurance company had found a loophole which makes them not responsible. All the work you put into filing the lawsuit and hiring doctors etc. will be for naught.
How to file a dog bite claim
The obvious first step is finding the dog that attacked you and its owner. Contact the owner in writing immediately, and let them know about the attack. Make it very clear that you are holding the owner entirely responsible for the incident.
Dog Bite Laws Vary By State
Dog bites can be pretty complicated and differ from state to state. By becoming familiar with the local dog laws, you’ll be able to ascertain whether the owner violated leash laws or if the owner owns a restricted breed of dog.
Some states have a “one bite” rule, which means that the owner is responsible only if they knew or should have known that the dog might act dangerously. The name of this rule is based on the idea that a dog essentially gets one free bite. After that, the owner is considered aware of the dog’s vicious tendencies, and therefore responsible for its actions.
Other states maintain strict liability for dog owners. This means that the owner is liable for dog attacks, even if the dog has never attacked anyone and the owner followed all regulations.
Another component that differs from state to state is that of “contributory negligence.” Contributory negligence means that if you or someone else incited the dog to attack, the claim could be reduced.
Preparing for a Dog Bite Lawsuit
When preparing for a dog bite lawsuit, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
- What are your state laws regarding dog bites?
- What type of dog injured you?
- Did the dog owner do or not do anything that aided in the attack?
- Does the owner have insurance that will be willing to compensate for the damages?
Taking on dog bite lawsuits on your own is possible but difficult. Even if you are willing to do the work necessary to make your case, it’s still probably a good idea to reach out to a dog bit legal expert to get his professional opinion. The initial consultation is usually free, and they may be able to point you in the right direction for winning your case.