Dogs make wonderful companions. But left unattended or raised with aggression, they can become vicious attack animals in the blink of an eye. Millions of Americans are traumatically injured by dogs every year, and it’s the dog owners who are often legally responsible. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious dog bite injury, learning more about the law and your rights can help you decide whether or not to move forward with a personal injury claim and request compensation.
Compensation for Dog Bite Injury
Dog owners can be held financially responsible for the medical costs associated with a dog bite injury and any legal fees incurred in the claims process. Dog bite victims may also be entitled to collect money damages for pain and suffering, income lost as a result of the injury, and trauma counseling.
In many cases, settlements are paid by the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. If the owner does have a homeowner’s policy, be prepared for a visit by the insurance company’s investigators. Many experienced dog bite attorneys discourage you from directly providing information to the insurance claims investigator. Instead, let your legal team handle all communication to reduce the likelihood that you might inadvertently disclose something that could hurt your case.
State Dog Bite Laws
Most states use the principle of “strict liability,” which means that responsibility lies with a dog owner when a pet bites someone, regardless of the dog’s behavioral history. Unfortunately, some states have a “one free bite” rule, which may allow a dog owner to avoid liability the first time a dog causes injury.
Consulting an experienced dog bite attorney can help you understand the dog bite laws in your state and decide if it is worth the time and effort to pursue a claim. A legal team with dog bite claims experience can evaluate factors like whether the owner was violating a leash law, if the dog breed is banned in your county, and whose property the attack occurred on — and let you know how these elements may affect your claim. You should also know about factors that can hurt your claim: For instance, if you were trespassing at the time of the attack, the owner may be absolved of any responsibility.
After a dog bite, seek medical attention right away, and then be sure to file a report with your local animal control agency. Then contact an experienced dog bite attorney for specific legal information and details regarding your rights as a victim.