Anyone knows how much people love getting outside with their dogs. From majestic outdoor scenery, canine-friendly businesses and off-leash parks, many places are an ideal place to raise your beloved pet. However, animals can act unexpectedly, and suffering from a dog bite can be a frightening, painful experience. At Daly & Black, P.C., we understand the life-altering impact a vicious dog attack can have on your life, family, and earning potential, and our team of dog bite lawyers and personal injury lawyers won’t rest until you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
Dog Bite Laws
Dog bite cases are complex and require expert legal counsel to successfully prove liability. Most states use either a “negligence” or “strict liability” which holds the dog’s owner liable if a dog bite results in serious bodily injury or death. In order for a strict liability to apply, the bite victim must be lawfully on private property or on public property. This liability is applied even if the owner didn’t know or could not have known that the dog would act aggressively.
“Serious bodily injury” includes any injury that causes:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Second or third degree burns
- A substantial risk of loss or impairment of the function of any part of the body, including organs
- A substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement
- A substantial risk of death
Strict liability law only applies for injuries caused solely by a dog bite. If a dog causes injury by some other means, such as knocking someone down, the injured person can seek compensation via a negligence-based claim.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Dog attacks are common in the United States, and cause an estimated $2 billion in damages every year. At least 61 percent of dog attacks happen in the owner’s home or immediate neighborhood.
Dog attacks can affect people of any age, but unfortunately, the most common injuries are inflicted on children. Canine attacks account for more children’s emergency room visits than any other injury. The overwhelming majority of these tragic child-related injuries involve heads and faces, forever altering the life and self-confidence of a child.
Generally speaking, the most common injuries from dog bites include:
- Puncture wounds
- Nerve damage
- Crush injuries
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
What Types of Compensation Can I Seek in a Dog Bite Case?
Beginning with a consultation at our office, or in your hospital room, our dog bite lawyers will evaluate your case and support you during this difficult time while pursuing compensation on your behalf for:
These costs can include initial emergency treatment and extended hospital stays, in addition to current and future physical therapy, future care and medications for physical and mental pain.
Lost wages, employment and earning potential
This includes the loss of a current job or contract, time off work or an inability to adequately perform tasks in the future.
Pain and suffering
You are entitled to compensation for the pain you are presently experiencing. However, you also have a right to seek compensation for the suffering you initially endured as well as future discomfort and difficulty.
Some injuries require assistance beyond the walls of the hospital. Home nursing care, as well as necessary assistive equipment is included in these damages.
Loss of consortium
This particular form of suffering includes the emotionally painful loss of love, companionship, affection and household services.
In extreme cases, if it can be proven that an owner “sicked” his dog on you, compensation beyond the standard damages can be awarded. These damages are applied when an attack is caused by an intentional and deliberate act, in order to punish the perpetrator.
What to Do If You’ve Been Attacked By a Dog?
Identify the dog, its owner and the potential insurer.
Immediately determine who owns or had custody of the dog when it attacked you. Identify the liability insurance company providing potential coverage. In some cases, your own insurance company may provide coverage for your wounds.
Seek medical care.
Depending on the severity of your injury, call first responders to the scene or arrange to be taken to the emergency room. Even if your injury seems minor, an untreated wound can lead to serious infection or rabies, and possibly lead to amputation.
Obtain contact information from any witnesses. Document the dog’s license information and ask about the dog’s history. Has the dog injured anyone in the past or been legally designated as “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous”? Photograph your injuries, including lacerations, bruises any torn, bloody clothing. It’s also a good idea to photograph the location of the attack.
File a dog bite report.
Once you’ve been medically treated for your injury, file a dog bite report with the city or county, even if the injury was minor. This will legally document your case and leave a useful paper trail for the next potential victim of the same dog.
Call our dog bite lawyers right away. The legal issues surrounding your case are complex and difficult to navigate alone. Your dog bite attorney can best look out for your best interests from this point forward.
Start a journal.
Dog bite claims can take time to resolve. Begin a journal to document your experiences following the attack. Spend a little time each day recording your thoughts and challenges.
Safely preserve photographic evidence, witness information and any other pertinent information that will help your case. It is important to preserve the clothes you were wearing during the attack, including any blood and dirt. Do not wash the clothes; place them in an adequately-sized plastic bag or container.
If the owner of the dog is insured, you might get a call from an insurance company representative. If that happens, ask the insurer for information including:
- The name, address and phone number of the insurance company
- The claim number
- The name of the person insured
While some things are appropriate to discuss with the insurance representative, there are some things you do not want to do:
- Do not allow your conversation to be recorded
- Do not accept any offers
- Do not discuss who is responsible
- Do not write a memo or letter
- Do not schedule an appointment
- Do not discuss injury value, payment terms, settlement or anything involving money
If your insurance company isn’t being fair to you after you go through a devastating accident like this one, contacting a first-party insurance lawyer can help too.
Dog Bite Lawsuit Statute of Limitations
In the United States, every state sets a time limit for filing a personal injury case, such as a dog bite injury. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, but typically requires injured individuals to file a lawsuit within a specified number of years from the date of the injury. If the lawsuit is not filed within the designated time frame, the case may not be heard in court. Since missing this state-mandated deadline will cause you to lose the right to obtain court-ordered compensation for your injury, it is crucial to contact our dog bite lawyers as quickly as possible to begin building your case.