Getting bitten by a dog can be a traumatic and potentially dangerous experience. Even playful nips can break skin and cause injuries. In some cases, dog bites lead to serious wounds, permanent scarring, or even death.
If you or a family member suffers a dog bite, having an experienced dog bite attorney by your side is crucial. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Assessing Liability After a Dog Attack
The first question after a dog bite is often “who is liable?”. In many states, dog owners face strict liability for bites – meaning the owner is responsible regardless of whether they knew the dog was dangerous. However, liability gets more complicated with factors like:
- Provocation – If the victim was teasing or provoking the dog, the owner may not be liable.
- Negligence – If the owner was negligent in restraining their dog or allowing it to roam freely, they likely share liability.
- Landlord negligence – If the bite occurred on rental property, landlords can share liability too.
An experienced dog bite attorney can help determine who bears responsibility in your case – whether it’s the dog’s owner, a landlord, an employer, or other parties. Having the right lawyer ensures no stone is left unturned when seeking maximum compensation.
The Damage a Dog Bite Can Cause
Beyond physical pain, dog bites can leave victims with major out-of-pocket expenses and emotional trauma. Some potential damages a skilled dog bite attorney may help you recover include:
- Medical bills – Wounds often require emergency care, surgery, hospitalization, or medication. Bills can stack up fast, especially if there is permanent nerve or tissue damage.
- Lost income – Significant bites may prevent victims from working for days, weeks, or longer while recovering. Reimbursement for lost wages is possible.
- Disfigurement – Scarring from severe bites can be traumatic and costly to address through plastic surgery or other procedures.
- Emotional distress – Dog bites can cause PTSD, anxiety, sleep issues, and fear of dogs. Therapy is often needed but expensive.
- Loss of enjoyment of life – Activities you once enjoyed may be hindered after suffering a traumatic dog attack. Compensation may help fund things that enrich your life after such an ordeal.
Having a qualified dog bite attorney allows victims to focus on healing, while knowing someone is fighting to cover all current and future costs.
What a Dog Bite Lawyer Can Do For You
Retaining legal counsel is always advisable to protect your rights after getting bitten. An attorney thoroughly investigates your case, gathers evidence, determines liability, calculates total damages, and negotiates fair settlement offers. They also provide guidance on steps like:
- Reporting bites to animal control or police
- Identifying responsible parties
- Documenting injuries through photos and medical records
- Obtaining witness statements
- Understanding time limits for filing claims
- Accepting or rejecting settlement offers
Should your case go to court, an experienced dog bite attorney handles everything – from filing a lawsuit to representing you in trial. Top lawyers are also willing to take cases to appeal if a court verdict seems unjust.
Essentially, the right lawyer lifts the legal burden off victims so they can focus energy on recovery. With strong counsel, many obtain settlements covering all present and predictable future costs associated with the bite – freeing them to move forward.
If Negotiations Fail – Understanding Your Legal Options
While most dog bite cases settle out of court, negotiations sometimes reach an impasse. Refusing to settle is often a negotiation tactic, but victims have options if responsible parties refuse reasonable compensation.
A dog bite attorney may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit against negligent parties like dog owners, landlords, businesses, insurers, and others. Lawsuits claiming negligence or strict liability often convince defendants to re-enter negotiations. If not, victims can present their case in court.
Top attorneys prepare meticulously for trial. They gather evidence, secure medical expert testimony, produce witnesses, contest disputable facts, and employ litigation strategies giving clients the best chance of a favorable verdict. While stressful, the litigation process motivates many defendants to settle before trial.
For victims needing closure or accountability, lawsuits also allow judges or juries – not insurance companies – to determine appropriate compensation. Of course, trials do come with risks if verdicts are unfavorable. This downside motivates many victims to accept fair pre-trial settlement offers secured by quality legal counsel. Either way, skilled lawyers fight to ensure clients receive maximum compensation in or out of court.
Key Takeaways When Seeking Counsel After a Dog Bite:
- Dog owners often face strict liability for bites, but liability gets complicated in some cases
- Skilled dog bite attorneys determine who bears responsibility for compensation
- Recoverable damages can include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering costs, and more
- Experienced lawyers handle investigative work and negotiations for maximum settlements
- Lawsuits are an option if negotiations fail to produce fair compensation
- Quality legal counsel eases the claims process so victims can focus on recovery
- Most dog bite cases settle out of court, avoiding the risks of a trial
- Hiring an attorney protects your rights and sends the message you are serious about being compensated
With so much potentially at stake after a traumatic dog attack, having an accomplished dog bite attorney in your corner levels the playing field. Let a skilled lawyer handle negotiations while you take time to physically and emotionally heal. With persistent counsel working towards a fair outcome, you have a trustworthy partner helping secure a settlement covering the full impact of the unfortunate incident.
What should I do after getting bitten by a dog?
After a bite, seek immediate medical attention to properly clean, treat, and document wounds. Take photos and video of injuries too. Report bites to the police or animal control to establish a record. Obtain the owner’s insurance and other key details as well – their cooperation is crucial. Finally, contact an attorney to protect your rights, determine liability, and handle negotiations.
How long do I have to file a dog bite claim?
Deadlines for lawsuits or insurance claims vary by state, but can range from 1-6 years in most cases. However, it’s best to act fast and move your case forward swiftly while memories and evidence are clear. An attorney helps navigate time limits, legal processes, and details needing prompt attention so your rights and options aren’t jeopardized by waiting too long.
Will homeowners or renters insurance cover a dog bite?
Home and renters insurance sometimes covers dog bite liability, but policies and exclusions vary. Your attorney reviews applicable policies to find potential coverage. Seeking compensation often requires negotiations with dog owners, landlords, insurance companies, and other parties your lawyer identifies as sharing liability based on the laws and specifics of your case.
What key evidence should I gather after getting bitten?
Photograph injuries from multiple angles and over time as they progress to document extent and severity. Save clothing damaged in attack too. Obtain contact info and insurance details from dog owners as well as names of witnesses. Finally, keep all medical records, treatment costs, evidence of lost work and wages, and anything speaking to the physical, emotional, and financial impact of trauma.
How much is my dog bite case worth?
Every dog bite case has unique worth based on severity, out-of-pocket costs now and later, liability laws in your state, responsible parties, witness accounts, settlement/verdict histories in your jurisdiction for similar cases, and more. Experienced attorneys utilize legal knowledge and resources to run comps and calculate total current and future costs that warrant maximum compensation in or out of court.