I have been bitten by a dog, what do I do next?[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"][/caption]
According to Dogbite.org there were 33 fatal dog attacks in 2010. Pit Bulldogs, which make up approximately 5% of the total dog population in the United States, comprised approximately 67% of the dog attacks.
Up to 61% of the dog attacks were against children who were 11 years old and younger, and 75% of the attacks were on children who were 4 years old and younger. Males accounted for 60% of the victims. Recent data also suggests that most dog bites, which resulted in death (approximately 73%), were committed by the family dog.
Not all dog bites are fatal, in fact, according the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, up to 2% of the U.S. population is bitten each year by a dog, which accounts for the estimated 1,000 victims of dog bites who come to emergency rooms for treatment each day.
From these statistics it is clear that although having a family dog can be fun, dogs do sometimes act in unexpected and aggressive ways which can be dangerous, not only to your family, but also to friends and neighbors.
What if you have been bitten by a dog? Are you entitled to compensation for damages or for your losses? What if you have to go the hospital and you incur very expensive medical bills? What if you have to miss time from work?
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Dog Bite
Often a dog owners insurance company will compensate you if you have been bitten by a dog. If the dog owner does not have insurance, if the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement for your dog bite injuries, if the dog bite did not occur on their property, or if the injuries occurred due to the dog owners intentional or malicious actions to cause you harm, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim to recover additional compensation.
All states have laws which outline a specific amount of time for filing a personal injury claim from a dog bite. If you do not file the claim within the specified timeframe, you may lose your ability to file the personal injury claim.
Winning a personal injury claim for a dog bite is similar to other types of personal injury claims. First you must prove the dog owner owed you a duty of care. Next you must prove that they breached this duty through their negligence and this breach of duty caused your dog bite injuries. Finally, you must prove that you have suffered loss due to your injuries. Common injuries caused by dog bites can include: punctures, lacerations, broken or crushed bones, deformity and infections such as rabies.
First 5 Steps to take after a Dog Bite Injury
If you have been bitten by a dog it is important to do the right things to ensure you will get the medical care and compensation you need for your injuries.
1. Identify the dog which bit you.
2. Find witnesses to the dog bite incident and gather statements about the event.
3. Identify the owner of the dog.
4. Get information from the owner including: homeowners insurance, renters insurance, commercial insurance. Information should include the name of the insurance company, the companys telephone number, the policy holders name and address of the company.
5. Find a personal injury lawyer who can review your dog bit case and injuries. Take pictures of your injuries and seek medical help as soon as possible.
Four Things not to do after a Dog Bite Injury
1. Do not wait to get medical help and document your dog bite injuries.
2. Do not sign any settlement agreement without first talking to a personal injury lawyer who understands the full cost of your injuries, including all medical costs and lost wages.
3. Do not wait to get information about the dog owner or their insurance company.
4. Do not discuss your dog bites with anyone else or allow the insurance company to photograph or tape you commenting about your dog bite case.
Hiring a Personal injury lawyer
If you have suffered loss from the negligence of a dog owner, you may be entitled to compensation. Personal injury lawyers understand dog bite cases and have helped other dog bite victims.
While simple dog bite claims may be settled on your own with the insurance company, some insurance companies may not always be looking out for your best interest. If your dog bite injuries are severe or if someone you love has been killed by a dog, you may need help from a legal professional.