Can I Claim Compensation for a Dog Bite?

May 28, 2024 | By Polito & Harrington LLC
Can I Claim Compensation for a Dog Bite?

The aftereffects of a traumatic dog bite and attack might last months, years, or a lifetime. When someone else’s dog is the culprit, you should not have to cover your bite-related expenses and losses. Fortunately, the law agrees and provides options for bite victims to seek compensation.

While the law is on your side, it does not mean the process is simple. Dog owners and their insurance companies often fight liability whenever possible, causing additional stress and frustration in an already difficult time.

Let an experienced Waterford dog bite attorney seek the compensation you deserve. Begin with a free consultation today to discuss the attack, your injuries, and your legal options.

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In the United States, dog bite laws vary from state to state and have evolved over the years. Most states historically had dog bite laws requiring victims to prove negligence on the dog owner's part, which is standard in many personal injury claims.

Legal Liability for Dog Bites

Others had one-bite laws, giving one free bite before you can hold an owner liable for harm. Once the owner knows the dog has a propensity to bite, you can hold them responsible for injuries from subsequent bites.

Currently, however, many state laws follow the concept of strict liability regarding dog bites. This means that dog owners are held responsible for the actions of their pets, regardless of whether the owner was negligent or not.

Strict liability laws do not allow for one free bite before liability attaches, as an owner can be strictly liable even if a dog has never shown aggression before. 

Unlike other personal injury cases where you must prove negligence, many dog bite cases operate under the assumption that the owner is liable for their dog's behavior.

You might assume you will face a straightforward claim, but you must often overcome obstacles to obtaining compensation. You must present evidence and counter any defenses dog owners and insurers might raise.

You need an experienced dog bite lawyer on your side as soon as possible. They can advise whether you can seek compensation for your dog bite injuries based on strict liability, negligence, one-bite laws, or other legal causes of action.

What Compensation is Available for Dog Bite Injuries?

Dog bite injuries can be serious, including:

  • Lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Soft tissue tears
  • Puncture wounds

Further, infections and other complications are common, requiring additional medical treatment. You can seek compensation for all your past and future medical bills for emergency and ongoing treatment.

If your dog bite caused permanent disfigurement and scarring, you can seek compensation for the alterations to your appearance and the resulting effects on your life.

Dog bite victims also regularly suffer psychological effects, such as extreme anxiety, phobias, PTSD, and more. Compensation is available for emotional trauma, mental health treatment, and pain and suffering.

Your dog bite attorney should calculate the compensation you deserve, as insurance companies will usually undervalue your claim.

Gathering Evidence in a Dog Bite Case

To make a successful claim for compensation for a dog bite, your dog bite attorney must gather evidence. The more evidence they have to support your case, the stronger your claim becomes.

Gathering Evidence

Here are some important steps you can take to assist in building a strong case:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Your health and well-being should be the top priority. Seek medical attention immediately after a dog bite, even if the wound appears minor. Dog bite wounds have a high risk of infection and should be professionally cleaned, dressed, and monitored. This not only ensures you receive proper medical treatment but also creates an official record of your injuries.
  • Document the Incident: Take photographs of your injuries, note where the dog bite occurred, and any relevant details, such as broken fences or lack of warning signs. If there were witnesses present, try to gather their contact information as well. Your attorney can speak with witnesses and visit the scene of the attack if necessary.
  • Keep a Record of Expenses: Maintain a detailed record of all expenses related to your injuries, including medical bills, prescription costs, therapy sessions, and any other out-of-pocket expenses. These records will help calculate the compensation you may be entitled to.

If you have not already, consult a dog bite lawyer immediately. Speaking with insurance companies or beginning the claim process without proper legal representation is never wise.

Pursuing a Dog Bite Claim for Compensation

Once your dog bite attorney has gathered sufficient evidence, they can begin the legal process. They will calculate your losses, prepare a settlement demand, and handle negotiations with the insurance company.

Some of the main steps in pursuing a dog bite claim include:

  • Free consultation: During the initial consultation, your attorney will evaluate your case, review the evidence you have, and discuss your options. They will provide you with a clear understanding of the legal process and the potential outcomes of your claim.
  • Investigation: Once hired, your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to gather additional evidence, interview witnesses, and determine the extent of your damages. If necessary, they may also consult with experts, such as medical professionals or animal behaviorists.
  • Negotiation: Your attorney will handle all communication with the dog owner's insurance company and work to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. They will fight for your rights to the compensation you deserve.
  • Litigation: If insurers do not offer a fair settlement, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit. They will handle the litigation process, represent you in court, and even present your case before a judge and jury if needed.

Seek Your Free Consultation With a Dog Bite Lawyer

If you suffered a dog bite injury, remember you might have rights and options. Seeking compensation for your injuries and damages not only provides a financial recovery but also holds negligent dog owners accountable. By consulting a dog bite attorney who can explain your legal recourse, you can pursue a claim that ensures your well-being.

Contact an attorney near you to discuss your case and explore the possibilities of obtaining the compensation you deserve.