It’s estimated that there are roughly 4.5 million dog bites in the US every year. However, only a small fraction of these victims end up filing claims or taking legal action. As dog bite lawyers, we handle these types of cases and wanted to provide some general information on how a dog bite lawsuit works.
Here are a few of the topics this post will cover:
Just because a dog has bitten you does not mean you have grounds to seek compensation. There are a few elements that must be present.
A valid dog bite case will have the following components:
The circumstances surrounding what happened can make a big difference as to whether you have a case or not. Since each story is different, you should have an attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases here what happened.
Most of the time, the money in a dog bite settlement will come from the dog owner’s home or renter’s insurance policy. Less commonly, if a business or city is found responsible, other insurance policies may come into play.
In other words, most dog bite cases never turn into lawsuits. Instead, a settlement is usually negotiated between the victim and the dog owner’s insurance company. If you’ve retained a lawyer, he or she will handle these negotiations on your behalf. From there, you have the final say whether to accept an offer.
So, when might things turn into a lawsuit? In one of two situations:
While very few dog bite cases end up in court, some of the more serious cases do. This is another reason to consider reaching out to an experienced attorney, particularly if you’re facing very high medical bills.
It’s not uncommon for the dog’s owner to be your friend, family member, or neighbor. In fact, statistics show that most dog bites come from a dog that was known to the victim. This is a delicate situation. You may have conflicting feelings about seeking compensation. Won’t this harm your relationship?
Remember, in most cases, your friend’s insurance policy can cover your costs. When this happens, they won’t pay out of pocket for your care. Many times, a true friend also cares enough about the relationship to want to do all they can to help you recover.
Our attorneys have dealt with this situation before and ensure all communications are carefully and respectfully carried out. If you are working with an attorney, always make sure to express your wishes and concerns.
A settlement covers two primary categories of damages: economic and non-economic. Think of economic damages as the financial expenses related to your injury. For instance, medical bills and missed wages. Non-economic damages are ways apart from your finances you’ve been harmed. Pain and suffering are examples.
Chances are high that a dog bite victim has suffered many harms:
Dog bite settlements can vary wildly depending on the type and severity of injury, the age of the victim, and insurance policy limits. Don’t be swayed by lawyers’ websites that claim they can “calculate” a value on the spot. The true value of a case comes through careful evaluation, as all the facts become known.
It’s not easy to say what will happen to the dog that bit you. There are several different actions that animal control might take, ranging from fines to euthanizing the animal.
Here are some factors to consider:
For additional information, you might want to read our post on Dog Bite Laws for Washington State.
We hope we’ve made a strong case throughout this blog post for reaching out to an attorney when you’re dealing with a dog bite. There are several distinct advantages of using an attorney versus going it alone.
Some of those include:
If you’re worried about how much it will cost to hire a dog bite attorney, don’t be. We work on a contingency fee basis which means you only pay us if we win your settlement. There’s nothing to pay upfront.
Our Tacoma based dog bite lawyers are happy to speak with you at no cost. We can hear what happened and let you know if we think you have a case. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.