What should I do if I am bitten by a dog?
Get medical attention as soon as possible. A superficial bite can infect you or transmit rabies. You should see a doctor as soon as possible if the skin is broken.
It is also important to identify the dog. This is not just to establish liability. Your doctor will need to know if the dog was healthy. If the owner is nearby, request identification. Write the information down. Get his or her full address and telephone number.
Contact an experienced attorney to promptly start an investigation.
Do I have a case?
The facts of every case are different and you should contact our attorneys for a free case evaluation. However, remember that “smaller” injuries oftentimes warrant a lawsuit where there is scarring and/or emotional or psychological effects.
Dog bite law varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but many jurisdictions have enacted dog bite statutes that impose strict liability on dog owners for the actions of their pets. An injured adult has a right to file a claim or lawsuit. A child’s claim must be made by his or her parent or guardian. In strict liability states, a dog owner is responsible by statute for any bite by his dog. Defenses exist where a dog is provoked or attacked or the victim is a trespasser.
Should you seek legal advice even when the dog owner offers to pay your medical bills?
Many dog owners feel responsible for their dogs and genuinely want to help. They might offer money or offer to pay the medical bills. However, this type of offer does not necessarily compensate you for all the losses that you have suffered. Most homeowners have insurance that covers this type of incident. If an insurance adjuster or investigator for the owner contacts you, you are not obligated to talk to them. If you discuss your injuries, “I feel much better” may later become “The claimant told me she had recovered, and now claims that she still has pain.” Insurance adjusters and investigators owe their loyalty to the insurance company. Their job is to save the company as much money as possible, not to help you receive adequate compensation for your injuries. Get the insurance adjuster’s identifying information and provide it to an experienced trial attorney.
It may seem reasonable to accept an early offer of $2500 as compensation for a dog bite. However, insurance companies always require a written release of liability in exchange for a money settlement. We recommend that you wait a while to allow your injuries to fully heal before settling a dog bite claim. This is particularly true where scarring is a possibility. Plastic surgeons usually cannot reliably determine the extent of scarring until at least six months have passed. You may not know for quite some time whether all of your medical treatment is complete. This is precisely the reason that an insurance company will contact you and want to obtain an early settlement and release.
Our lawyers have years of experience handling dog bite cases involving serious injury. We understand the statutes in multiple jurisdictions and the nature of dog bite injuries. Call us for a FREE case evaluation.