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Dog Bites and Legal Action

Dogs can sometimes act unexpectedly and may bite and cause injuries. Even if a dog is not malicious, if you are bitten a serious injury can occur. According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, up to 2% of the U.S. population is bitten each year by a dog. This means that approximately 1,000 victims of dog bites come to emergency rooms for treatment each day. If you have an injury that was caused by a dog bite and have suffered injury and have medical expenses, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

What To Do If I have Been Injured By A Dog Bite

  • The first thing a dog bite victim should do is get medical treatment. It is important to do this step as quickly as possible so your eligibility for a claim is not affected. The following steps should be done next.
  • Identify the dog which bit you. DNA may have to be used in certain cases.
  • Identify all types of insurance the homeowner has including: homeowners, renters, commercial or landlords insurance. Gather all information about the insurance policy: name of company, telephone number, policy holder's name and address of the company
  • Identify all possible witnesses and gather all statements as soon after the event as possible.
  • Document all injuries and other evidence with photographs. Also take pictures as you begin to heal to document the progression of your medical treatment. Maintain all medical records and doctors notes about your injuries.

What Not To Do After You Have Been Bitten By A Dog

  • Do not wait to seek medical treatment.
  • Do not sign anything for the insurance company or dog owner. Do not provide a written report to anyone.
  • Do not discuss your injury, monetary payment or accept payment for your injury.
  • Do not allow yourself to be taped or photographed.
  • Do not discuss injury compensation or assign responsibility.

There may be "dog court" proceedings to determine how dangerous the dog was who bit you. Do not communicate with local animal control authorities without consulting an attorney. A personal injury lawyer may be needed to review the city and county ordinances especially if you have been issued a subpoena to testify at a "dog court". Your testimony and the proceeding could compromise your rights if you do not have an attorney to consult with.


Understanding the physical and emotional injuries from a dog bite

Dog bites can result in a variety of injuries. Some common dog bite injuries are punctures, lacerations, broken or crushed bones, deformity and infections such as rabies. Fractures around the eyes, nose and jaws can also occur especially if a child is bitten. In addition to physical injuries there could also be emotional trauma. Emotional trauma can be harder to determine but it could be in the form of fear, depression and anger. Individuals who witness a dog attack could have post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the experience. It is just as important to seek medical treatment for an emotional injury as a physical one. The cost of psychological services or medication is usually covered by insurance and the dog owner if found liable for the injuries may have to pay for all mental health services.


Dog Owner Negligence

If the dog owner is not insured then they may be personally responsible for your injuries. This is definitely true if the dog owner acted in a malicious manner and intentionally caused the injury. An experienced injury lawyer is the best resource to examine your case and decide the merits of a personal injury claim.

In some states if the dog owner is a renter the landlord might be liable for the injuries from dogs living on the property as well as animals brought on to the property. A personal injury attorney can help you determine the rules for your state.

The statute of limitations varies from state to state. It ranges from one to six years depending on the state you live in. It is also further complicated by the definition of "make a claim" which means to actually file a lawsuit, not just file an insurance claim.

There are also varying rules if a government employee, agency or SPCA is responsible for your injury. The statute of limitations for filing a claim if any of the above parties is responsible could be as little as 60 days. It is a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney to determine the statute of limitations for your injury and state.


Get a Lawyer for your Dog Bite!

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to a dog bite you are entitled to compensation for medical costs, emotional injuries or other lost income opportunities. Compensation may come from the dog owner's insurance company or the dog owner himself through a personal injury claim. In order to receive compensation the victim must prove an injury occurred and as a result of the injury they have sustained a loss. Unfortunately, the insurance company is not necessarily looking out for your best interest. They may only offer a settlement to cover a small part of the total cost for your injuries. A dog bite injury attorney can work with you and the insurance company to make sure your settlement is fair.

If you have been injured this might be a difficult time to gather all evidence and follow the necessary procedures to determine liability for your injuries. This is especially true if a loved one has died. There are also additional factors to consider in some cities regarding various breeds of dogs. Some breeds such as a pit bull may be considered inherently dangerous in some cities. In other cities a dog may not be considered dangerous until it bites someone. A dog bite lawyer can help determine the laws in your state.

A dog bite injury attorney can be an invaluable resource to gather evidence, discuss your case, provide expert witnesses and ensure you receive just compensation for your injuries. A dog bite attorney who is an expert in dog bites understands dog bite injuries and how to gather and evaluate the evidence that is necessary to prove your claim. If you find the settlement which the insurance company is offering is insufficient you will need an attorney to file your personal injury claim.

In addition an experienced lawyer understands future costs you might have if plastic surgery is needed. A report will be needed now to document future plastic surgery costs. An attorney can determine the amount that will be needed for future surgeries and ensure that cost will be factored into the settlement.

An attorney is not paid upfront but rather when payment for your personal injury case is received. This "contingency fee" is dependent on the success of your personal injury claim. Fees may differ by location or if the case goes to trial. Most cases are settled out of court.