Every year, nearly 5 million people are victims of dog bites, tragically many are children. In a ten year period, the number of dogs rose by 2%, while the number of dog bites increased by 33%. About 1000 dog bite victims arrive in hospital emergency rooms per day for treatment. Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with $345 million paid by homeowner insurance policies.
When a dog bite occurs, it is important to know the law of where the incident happened, knowledge of city or county ordinances, state law and even administrative law could be important. At The Joel Bieber Firm, we investigate the incident to determine what law applies, whether there was notice of a potential bite and even discuss with you whether the type of dog breed makes a difference.
Dog Bites. Why Does This Happen?
There are many reasons why a dog bites. A dog may bite out of fear or to protect their territory. Some owners teach their dogs that biting is an acceptable form of play behavior, and every year a number of newborn infants die when they are bitten by dogs that see them as “prey”. A dog bite can be a traumatic event that results in serious injury. Often a dog bite will result in permanent scarring and nerve damage. There are several common sense methods of preventing dog bites, but sometimes an attack is unavoidable. By putting our Virginia dog bite lawyers to work early in the claim, our investigation may uncover evidence that may otherwise disappear.
What Should I do if I am Attacked?
Try to identify the dog that bit you and see if you can get the address to the house at which the dog bite occurred. If it’s a stray, you could end up having to get rabies treatments, which is very painful. However, if the dog belongs to someone you may not have to get the treatments and you have the ability to successfully make a personal injury lawsuit claim against the owner. We will work to determine ownership, whether the owner knows or should have known that the dog would bite, and we will also try to determine what insurance coverage may apply. It is important to determine if there is renter’s or homeowner insurance. In some instances, there may be a premise medical payment coverage that will cover some medical bills, even if no one is at fault.
Get medical attention as soon as possible after a dog bite and follow all physician instructions relating to your care. Get medical attention quickly because any delay in getting attention could affect your eligibility for a claim.
After receiving medical attention, focus on finding out as much as you can about the dog and their owner, including whether or not the owner has insurance. When The Joel Bieber Firm is hired, based upon some of this information we may need to get an expert involved to assist in the investigation of the claim.
What am I Entitled to if I am a Dog Bite Victim?
It is impossible to state an “average” settlement for a dog bite victim, however damages in a dog bite case may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Future plastic surgery costs
- Physiological counseling, if necessary
- Punishment damages if the conduct rises to that level
Some Defenses to a Dog Bite claim may include the following:
- The victim provoked the dog
- The victim was a trespasser
- The dog was a police dog in the performance of duty
- The victim was a medical care professional, who was treating the dog at the time of the bite.
Our Virginia dog bite attorneys are experienced in handling dog bite claims. In addition, by proper investigation in the early stages of the claim, we may be able to overcome such defenses with undiscovered evidence. The initial investigation may determine if there will be any recovery. It is important to talk to any witnesses, as quickly as possible. We also take photographs to preserve the evidence, to submit at a later date. We also act quickly to put any available insurance company on notice. And, of course, our actions may keep someone else from being bitten.
Contact an experienced dog bite lawyer at The Joel Bieber Firm today for your free initial consultation. Please fill out the form on this page.
Hire Personal Injury Lawyer for Dog Bites
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
Frequently Asked Questions
To get the most out of your claim and not have to pay any costs to pursue compensation for your losses, yes, you need a lawyer for a dog bite.
As a dog bite victim, you deserve to have the full extent of your damages compensated by negligent dog handlers and owners. However, there is no guarantee that you will get this. In fact, insurance companies negotiate hard for minimum payouts that leave injury victims lacking.
A dog bite lawyer fights for a justified payout that takes into full account their client’s physical injuries, pain, and financial losses.
Many injury victims are surprised to learn that they can claim compensation for more than just medical bills. With a dog bite lawyer representing you, you will be made aware of all compensable losses in your case.
A dog bite lawyer also takes the burden of pursuing compensation off your shoulders and takes the reins of your claim. While they vigorously seek the money you need, you have the time you need to heal.
Personal injury lawyers handle dog bite cases. They work to ensure that injury victims receive proper compensation for their losses by representing them at every step of the compensation process.
Personal injury lawyers are typically strong negotiators, and much of their time is spent going back and forth with insurance companies in pursuit of a proper settlement figure. During these negotiations, settlement amounts are usually determined, which means you want a lawyer with experience winning at the table.
Personal injury lawyers who handle dog bite cases are also trial attorneys. They have the skill and experience to fight for their client in front of a judge and jury when necessary. They are also competent and qualified to manage your claim, from the paperwork to court appearances.
Dog bite lawyers are also well-versed in the various criminal and civil laws governing dogs and dog attacks, which may vary by state and city. They are often also knowledgeable about the many types of dog breeds, their behaviors, and the types of injuries they cause.
It depends on the unique circumstances of your case. The seriousness of your injuries plays a direct role in how much your payout will be. A bite victim with multiple life-threatening wounds is likely to receive substantially more than a victim with a bite that simply broke the skin.
Another factor in how much you can get is the skill and experience of the attorney you choose to represent you. The compensation system is set up for negotiations. The insurance company that ultimately pays your damages will be fighting hard to come in at a number below the total you need for your losses.
If you have a seasoned dog bite lawyer navigating your claim, your payout is likely to be larger than what you would get going it alone.
If your case is settled before court is necessary, you may get less than what a jury would have awarded. However, you benefit from getting a more timely payout that is guaranteed when you settle. Trials require much time, and their results are never guaranteed.
Each dog bite case is different and, therefore, requires a different time to resolve. Cases involving disputes over provocation or victim negligence often take longer than cases when liability is not disputed. Disputes over damage totals may also lead to drawn-out compensation proceedings.
For example, the insurance company handling your claim may not agree with your assessment of the injuries you receive and refuse to pay what you are asking. When this occurs, experts may need to get involved.
If settlement negotiations break down and the insurance company refuses to agree to a proper compensation figure, your attorney will likely recommend filing a lawsuit.
When a lawsuit is on the table, victims of dog bite injuries should prepare for more waiting until they are compensated. With that being said, a trial is often the only way some victims can get the funds they need.
However, a trial can lead to a year or more of litigation and court. Dog bite lawyers do what they can to reach a worthy settlement for their clients in a timely manner but are ready to go to court if necessary.
The cost of a dog bite lawsuit varies from case to case. The length of time it takes to reach a resolution will increase the costs. However, the fees that attorneys charge are computed based on the settlement or jury award they recover. If their client is awarded zero dollars, they also get zero.
Typically, in personal injury cases, attorneys charge a set percentage of the recovery amount. Some attorneys charge less and others charge more. Additionally, some attorneys increase their rates when a trial is necessary. In some cases that go to trial, the losing party may have to pay the legal fees of the other party.
When you’re trying to figure out how much it would cost to file a dog bite lawsuit, there are numerous factors to consider. Legal fees are different from the fees an attorney charges for their legal work.
Expenses from copying, court filing, traveling, and hiring experts and investigators are put up by the attorney who recoups them from the settlement or verdict when they receive their fees.
Remember that you should always file a dog bite insurance claim if you have damages. Many victims are concerned about the future of the animal or don’t want to file because they are friends with the owner. However, filing is a recommended course of action to ensure your losses are covered.
In most dog bite cases, the victim makes insurance claims against the dog owners’ homeowners insurance policy. To do this, the victim needs a report of the animal attack. Without this key document, there is no official record of the incident and typically no payout.
You should also seek medical attention, even if the wound seems minor or obvious. There needs to be an official medical report of your injuries that verifies their seriousness and when they occurred.
Once you have your injuries documented and a report has been filed, you should speak with an attorney before talking to insurance company adjusters, agents, or representatives. With the right representation on your side, you can maximize the compensation you’re eligible to receive.
Although some jurisdictions have strict liability for dog bite cases, there are defenses that dog owners can raise against a dog bite lawsuit for damages. One of them is the lack of ownership or control. If you can prove that the dog didn’t belong to you, you have a valid defense.
Another defense deals with trespassing. If someone trespasses on your property and a dog bites them, you can assert the defense of trespass and invalidate their claim. Similarly, if you can prove that the individual who experienced the dog bite was negligent, their case may be thrown out or reduced in value.
Provocation by the victim is another strong defense that can work well in dog bite cases. Various forms of provocation exist, each of which may be sufficient to lead to a bite attack, including:
The question of provocation is sometimes a sticking point in these cases, especially depending on the state in which the attack occurred. Having a skilled dog bite lawyer is essential to proving your case.
You have either two or three years to file a dog bite claim, depending on the jurisdiction. With that being said, there are cases that are exempt from this time limit. If you have a dog bite case that is more than two or three years old, don’t assume that your case is no longer valid. Consider meeting with a dog bite lawyer to review your case.
Though 2-3 years seems like a long time, it is important to file your lawsuit promptly after the accident. The more time that passes after a dog bite, the more difficult it will likely be to get the compensation you need, even if you are within the two or three-year time limit.
Witnesses forget details, and dogs and their owners move away as time passes. Video evidence recorded via doorbell cameras may be lost if it isn’t saved in time.
However, quick action makes for a strong case. The freshness of the evidence and availability of witnesses can do nothing but bolster your claim.
In most states, you have either two or three years to file a dog bite lawsuit. However, if your dog bite incident occurred more than two or three years ago, you may still have a viable case. Talking to an experienced dog bite lawyer can help you determine this.
One of the exceptions to this rule involves minors. In most jurisdictions, minor victims are not subject to personal injury statute of limitations until they become adults. So if a child is bitten at the age of 15, they could wait until their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. However, parents can opt to file a lawsuit on behalf of their child ahead of this time limit.
Similarly, dog bite victims who are incapacitated in some specific fashion will also benefit from a paused statute of limitations until their disability no longer exists.
Due to these factors, your case may be valid even after the two or three years have lapsed. Speak with a dog bite attorney during a free consultation and learn whether you can still seek compensation for your losses.
Yes. Dog bite victims can claim compensation for their injuries from a dog’s owner or handler. Depending on the jurisdiction, this might involve proving that the defendant was negligent in some fashion. In other jurisdictions, the mere fact that the dog bit you is enough to hold the owner or handler strictly liable for the attack.
If you have been bitten by a dog, various forms of compensation may be available to you. You may not know that the law compensates more than just economic losses, which are direct out-of-pocket expenses related to your injury. The law also provides for the compensation of non-economic losses in most cases.
Non-economic losses present the intangible, nonfinancial harm you faced as a result of your dog bite. Such damage creates just as much pain in a victim’s life as economic losses. They include:
Pain and suffering
Loss of enjoyment of life
Loss of protection and companionship
In the tragic case of death, loved ones of the deceased party may seek to recover costs associated with their funeral and burial.