Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Handle My Dog Bite Case?

Dog bites can lead to serious legal consequences for the pet owner, including potential lawsuits for injuries and damages. Victims may seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress caused by the incident.

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Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Handle My Dog Bite Case?
3 Min Read May 10th, 2023

Dogs are wonderful companions and are usually docile creatures. However, sometimes things can negatively trigger the animal, and the interaction with a human becomes injuries to multiple parties. Surprisingly, dog bites aren't rare, with more than 4.5 million bites reported yearly. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries from an interaction with a dog, consider contacting qualified law firm. Specialists in the domain can help you seek appropriate restitution.

What to Do if Injured by a Dog?

After treatment, you should seek compensation from the dog owner or the owner's insurer. Most homeowners have insurance policies that cover initial dog claims if the bite occurs inside the insured homeowners' property. Some policies also cover dog bites that occur outside the property.

You can also sue the dog owner or caretaker for damages. Regardless of your preferred action, you should hire a dog bite attorney. Dog bite lawyers use their knowledge and experience to negotiate and reach for a settlement from the insurance company.

How Much Can You Sue for Dog Bite Injuries?

Like other personal injury cases, there isn't a specific limit on how much dog bite victims can seek. However, dog bite cases in most states are worth approximately $50,000. The value of dog bites and other personal injury cases primarily depends on the severity of injuries sustained.

With the help of a dog bite lawyer, dog bit victims can seek compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of earning capacity – if they sustain serious injuries that can cause a professional setback
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and emotional suffering
  • Loss of consortium

Victims can demand financial compensation for all these damages, especially if the attack occurred because of the dog owners' mistake. Dog bite victims can also seek punitive damages against the dog owner. As the name suggests, this punishes dog owners for their laxity.

Your State's Dog Bite Laws Can Affect Your Dog Bite Case

The specifics of dog bite cases and compensation awarded primarily depend on your state laws and guidelines for personal injury cases. Some states adopt the strict liability option, while others use one-bite laws. Very few states, including New York, are mixed states. Dog bite laws in these states include some aspects of one-bite and strict liability rules.

  • Strict liability states – most states have adopted the general law that imposes liability for dog bites on the owner. This means dog owners assume full liability for the victim's injuries, whether the owner was negligent or not. However, victims should prove that the dog attacked them without provocation to be compensated.
  • One bite states – dog owners in these states are held responsible for dog bites if they know their dogs are dangerous. Besides causing previous bites, dog owners should pay attention to their dogs' violent behavior, such as barking at people, fighting other dogs, and chasing people or cars. Proving liability in these states is quite challenging, as the dog owner can decline knowledge of their dogs' violent behaviors. Victims often have to prove the dog owner's negligence.

Defenses You Can Encounter

The dog owner will probably hire a lawyer to defend them against your claims. While the defense option chosen by the defendant's attorney varies depending on state laws, most dog bite defenses include:

  • Dog provocation – dog owners may deny responsibility because the victim provoked the dog. Most people naturally like teasing or threatening dogs with aggressive gestures.
  • Trespassing – victims should prove they were legally allowed to be at the place where the bite occurred. While trespassers have legal protections, you won't be compensated for damages if the bite occurred while trespassing.
  • Assumption of risk or comparative negligence – dog owners can also argue that the victim is partially responsible for the bite, especially if the victim ignored warnings.

You should hire an experienced dog bite attorney who can counter these defenses.

The Bottom Line

Dog bites aren't a fun experience. Most people suffer long-lasting consequences that affect their quality of life. You should consult a dog bite attorney for legal guidance if a dog has bitten you. Your attorney will help you recover compensation for the damages suffered.

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