Dog bites and attacks can lead to serious injuries, including large open wounds, broken bones, and even infections. You can hold the dog owner or their insurance company accountable if you suffered injuries in a recent dog bite incident. In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment for your injuries, you should retain an experienced dog bite attorney to represent you as quickly as possible.

A skilled dog bite lawyer can begin an investigation into the incident and pursue a claim against the dog owner’s insurer. Your attorney can then pursue favorable settlement compensation on your behalf or litigate your case to a resolution in court.

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Where do Dog Bites Occur?

Dog Bite Incident in Public ParkDog bites can occur in various locations, with specific patterns influenced by both the environment and the nature of human-dog interactions. One common setting for dog bites is within a home. Familiarity doesn’t always guarantee safety, as dogs may react defensively in their territory. Children, in particular, are at a higher risk of bites in a home due to their proximity to pets.

Public spaces like parks and streets also witness many dog bites. Interactions between unfamiliar dogs and their owners or strangers can lead to unpredictable behavior, especially if the dog feels threatened or anxious. Off-leash dogs in these settings may perceive others as intruders, escalating the potential for aggressive encounters.

The workplace is another surprising location for dog bites. Service dogs or pets that workers may bring into offices can occasionally react negatively to stress or unfamiliar surroundings, unexpectedly biting or attacking another employee.

Despite their design for canine socialization, dog parks still experience biting incidents; they are not immune to biting incidents. Pack dynamics and varying temperaments can lead to conflicts, particularly if owners are not attentive to their pets’ behavior.

Unsurprisingly, veterinary clinics also experience dog bites, often due to animals’ stress and anxiety during medical procedures. Even well-behaved pets may react defensively when handled in unfamiliar ways or in the presence of other anxious animals.

In essence, dog bites can occur anywhere dogs and humans interact. If you recently suffered injuries in a dog bite or attack incident, an experienced dog bite lawyer can review the incident circumstances with you, gather the appropriate documentation, and take legal action on your behalf.

Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries

When a dog bites a human – especially an elderly individual or child – the victim can suffer extremely serious (and sometimes permanent or life-threatening) injuries. Some of the most common injuries that dog bite victims may suffer include:

In addition to physical injuries, dog bites can have long-standing psychological effects, especially in cases involving children. Fear, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result from a traumatic dog bite experience, affecting a person’s mental well-being long after their physical wounds heal.

Understanding the range of potential injuries from dog bites underscores the importance of preventative measures and responsible pet ownership. If you suffered injuries in a recent dog bite or attack incident, a skilled lawyer can handle the legal components of your injury claim. At the same time, you focus on seeking ongoing medical treatment.

Dog Bite Laws

Dog bite law follows a “one-bite rule.” The dog owner may be liable if they know the dog’s aggressive tendencies or previous biting behavior. However, recent legislative changes have expanded liability beyond just the “one-bite” scenario, enhancing protections for victims of dog attacks. Some of the key aspects of local dog bite law include:

  • One-Bite Rule – Historically, state law followed the “one-bite rule,” meaning a dog owner was generally not liable for a dog bite unless they knew its dangerous propensities. If the dog had bitten someone before, or the owner was aware of aggressive behavior, they can be responsible for the incident and resulting injuries.
  • Strict Liability – Recent changes to state law introduced a form of strict liability for dog owners. Under the new law, an owner can be held liable for damages their dog caused, regardless of any prior knowledge of aggressive tendencies. This law applies if the dog injures someone while not on the owner’s property or while the victim is lawfully present on the owner’s property.

There is also a state statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit. Typically, a person has two years from injury to initiate legal action in the court system. Failing to file within this statutory timeframe may result in losing one’s right to seek monetary compensation for their injuries.

An experienced dog bite attorney in your area can file a timely claim or lawsuit on your behalf to pursue the financial recovery you deserve.

How to Prove a Dog Bite Case

Proving a dog bite case requires carefully examining the incident’s circumstances. Some of the key elements to consider when proving a dog bite case include:

  • Identification of the Dog Owner – The first step is establishing the dog’s ownership. This can be straightforward if the owner is known but becomes more complex if the dog is stray or unleashed – and without a visible owner. Witnesses, surveillance footage, or other evidence may help in identifying the responsible party.
  • Establishing Negligence or Knowledge – In some cases, to hold the owner liable (i.e., under the one-bite rule), the bite victim must show that the dog owner was negligent or aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies. Providing evidence of prior incidents or aggressive behavior, if any, can be crucial. This may include witness testimonies, veterinary records, or documented complaints about the dog’s prior behavior.
  • Proving the Dog’s Dangerous Propensity – If a dog previously bites someone or exhibited aggressive behavior, the owner may be strictly liable for subsequent bites. Collecting evidence of the dog’s dangerous propensity, such as medical records, previous complaints, or witness statements, is essential to building a strong case.
  • Documentation of the Incident – Having detailed documentation of the dog bite incident is also crucial. This evidence may include photographs of the injuries, medical records, and any other evidence that can help establish the severity of the attack. Prompt medical attention and reporting the incident to local authorities contribute to the case’s credibility.
  • Eyewitness Testimonies – Eyewitness accounts can play a vital role in proving a dog bite claim or lawsuit. Gathering statements from individuals who observed the incident firsthand can provide additional perspectives and support your claim. This may include neighbors, passersby, or anyone who can testify about the circumstances leading to the dog bite or attack.
  • Medical Records and Expert Testimonies – Comprehensive medical records detailing the extent of the injuries, treatment required, and long-term consequences can strengthen a dog bite case. In some instances, consulting with medical professionals can provide professional opinions on the severity of injuries and their effect on the victim’s life.
  • Legal Assistance – Engaging the services of an experienced personal injury attorney specializing in dog bite cases can significantly enhance your chances of success. They can lead you through the legal process, assist in gathering evidence, and navigate the complexities of local dog bite laws.

An experienced dog bite lawyer can build a compelling case on your behalf and pursue appropriate monetary compensation for the injuries and damages you incurred.

Negotiating with the Insurance Company

Negotiation with InsurerNegotiating with the insurance company after a dog bite can be a complex process, but there are key strategies to help maximize your compensation and ensure a fair resolution. Here’s a guide on how to navigate this negotiation:

  • Understand the Available Insurance Coverage – You should familiarize yourself with the dog owner’s insurance policy details, including liability coverage. This information helps determine the maximum compensation that’s available for your claim. In many cases, homeowners’ insurance policies cover dog bite liability, and your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company adjuster rather than the individual dog owner.
  • Present a Clear Demand Letter – Your dog bite lawyer can craft a detailed demand letter outlining the facts of your case, the extent of your injuries, and the compensation you seek. The letter will be very specific about your damages, including medical expenses, lost income, and any future costs related to the incident. A well-crafted demand letter sets the foundation for effective settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
  • Negotiate Professionally – Your attorney will approach settlement negotiations with a professional demeanor. They can clearly articulate your case, backed by evidence, and will be open to a reasonable dialogue with the insurance adjuster.
  • Be Prepared to Counteroffer – Insurance companies may initially offer low settlements. With your dog bite attorney, prepare to counteroffer based on your assessment of the damages. Your lawyer can justify the counteroffer with evidence and a clear explanation of why you believe it is fair and reasonable.
  • Consider Mediation – Mediation can be a helpful alternative if settlement negotiations reach an impasse. A neutral third party can assist in facilitating discussions between you and the insurance company to reach a mutually acceptable settlement agreement.
  • Document All Communication – Keep records of all communication with the insurance company, including emails, letters, and notes from phone conversations. This documentation can serve as evidence in case negotiations lead to legal proceedings.

Approaching insurance negotiations after a dog bite with preparation, a clear understanding of your case, and skilled legal representation can enhance your chances of achieving a fair and satisfactory settlement amount.

Recovering Favorable Monetary Damages for Dog Bite Injuries

Victims of dog bite injuries may be entitled to recover various types of financial compensation to address the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of the incident. The specific compensation awarded often depends upon the severity of the injuries and the specific circumstances surrounding the dog bite incident. Common types of financial compensation for dog bite injuries include:

  • Medical Expenses – Compensation for medical expenses is a primary consideration. This includes reimbursement for emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and any ongoing medical treatments related to the dog bite injuries. Victims are entitled to recover all reasonable and necessary healthcare costs.
  • Emotional Distress – Beyond physical injuries, dog bite victims may experience emotional distress, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Compensation for emotional distress aims to address the psychological effects of the incident, encompassing fear, nightmares, and other related mental health consequences.
  • Lost Income – If the dog bite results in the victim missing work due to recovery, medical appointments, or other related issues, compensation for lost income may be available. This includes current lost income and potential future earnings if the injuries lead to a long-term disability (such as from paralysis) or reduced earning capacity.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement – Compensation for visible scarring or disfigurement resulting from a dog bite incident may also be available. This type of compensation acknowledges the lasting effects on the victim’s appearance and the potential psychological effects associated with visible injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering – Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, account for the physical and emotional distress resulting from the dog bite. Calculating these damages can be subjective, considering factors like the intensity of pain, emotional trauma, and any lasting psychological effects.
  • Property Damage – In cases where personal property, such as clothing or accessories, becomes damaged during the dog attack, victims may seek compensation for property damage.
  • Wrongful Death Damages – In tragic cases where a dog bite results in the victim’s death, surviving family members may pursue wrongful death damages. These damages include compensation for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and the emotional toll on surviving family members.
  • Legal Fees and Costs – In some instances, the prevailing party may be entitled to recover legal fees and costs associated with pursuing a dog bite injury claim.

Understanding the types of financial compensation available is crucial for dog bite victims seeking to recover monetary damages for their injuries. Consulting with a personal injury attorney can guide the specific compensation for individual cases and enhance the chances of a fair recovery.

Speak with an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer Today

Ted Lorenz, Attorney for Dog Bite

Ted R. Lorenz, Dog Bite Lawyer

If you or a person you care about recently suffered injuries in a dog bite, time is of the essence. In most cases, dog bite victims only have two years from the date of their incident to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. Therefore, you need to get experienced legal counsel on your side right away.

A local dog bite attorney can file a claim with the insurance company on your behalf, handle all settlement negotiations with adjusters, or litigate your case to an efficient resolution in the state court system.