You have been bitten by another person’s dog, and those injuries may have lasting effects in the future. The dog bite was not your fault. You were not on another person’s property, and the owner of the dog did not take proper precautions to keep the dog restrained. Does this make you responsible for medical bills and damages caused by another person’s dog?
Dog Bite Statistics
The most recent study conducted by the CDC indicates that 4.7 million people suffer from dog bites each year. According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners’ insurance agencies paid out a total of approximately $675 million in dog-bite liability claims in 2018, with the average claim costing approximately $39,000.
With so many people who suffer from dog bites each year coupled with the average cost to treat the injury, there have been a growing number of dog bite lawyers who focus on understanding the various dog bite laws.
Dog Bite Laws
Dog bite laws vary from state-to-state. States can hold dog owners liable for injuries their dog causes if the owner knew the dog was likely to bite. This is known as strict liability. In other words, if you knew your dog might bite a person, you are responsible for the actions of your dog. Other states’ laws will hold you liable even if you did not know your dog may bite. However, a judge can determine a ruling based on common law rather than statutory law.
Common law is derived from recent decisions that have been made by the courts, whereas statutory law is legislation that has been adopted as written law. Therefore, even if you live in a state where there is no specific statutory law in place regarding your type of dog bite incident, a judge may still rule in your favor based on common law.
As laws regarding dog bites can vary between states, you need to find a lawyer in your area who is familiar with the common and statutory laws in your state.
Lawyers for Dog Bites
If you have been bitten by a dog and require reimbursement for damages that have been caused, you need to search for a dog bite lawyer. A simple way to find local results is to search online for “dog bite lawyers near me.” This will ensure you find local dog bite lawyers who are familiar with your jurisdiction’s dog bite laws; both common and statutory.
How Much Can I Sue for a Dog Bite?
Dog bites are not limited to physical bodily harm. While medical bills may make up a large portion of the total damages sustained, other damages can be sought for reimbursement.
- Emotional Distress – Oftentimes, victims of dog bites undergo fear, nervousness, and anxiety when coming in contact with a dog. This emotional damage should be included with the total damages experienced.
- Missed Time and Wages from Work – Physical injuries from a dog bite can result in missed time from work due to the injury or medical appointment. You should include the time missed from work, as well as any personal time taken to cover the amount of work missed, in the total amount of damages.
- Damaged Property – If the dog bite resulted in damage to your property, such as broken glasses, the damaged property should be included in the total amount of damages.
The total amount you can sue for a dog bite can vary from case-to-case. The average amount that is paid to victims of dog bites is around $39,000. This can be higher or lower depending on the amount of physical harm, medical bills, and property was damaged from the bite.
How to Sue for a Dog Bite
The first step you will need to take is to document everything from the incident. Take pictures of the dog, the location of the incident, and the injuries you sustained. If there were any witnesses, ask them to provide a written statement from their perspective. Gather the dog owner’s information. The more information you have from the incident, the better prepared your lawyer will be.
Search for dog bite lawyers in your location. Finding a dog bite lawyer who is familiar with your state’s dog bite laws will help you obtain the reimbursement you seek.
Contact your lawyer to schedule a consultation or appointment to describe your case. Collect all information from the incident to take to the meeting for your lawyer to review. Your lawyer may ask for additional information, so be prepared to be readily available if your lawyer has a specific request.
Your lawyer will draft legal documents to pursue litigation based on the evidence for your case. Most civil lawsuits are settled out-of-court, and dog bite cases are no different. Once the legal documents have been drafted, your lawyer may be contacted by the defense to attempt to reach a settlement.
Your lawyer will advise you if this is the choice you should make and why. If the settlement offer seems too low, your lawyer may advise you to refuse; however, the choice is yours to make. If the settlement offer is fair, your lawyer may advise you to accept it.
If your case is not settled out-of-court, then it will go to trial. A judge can make a ruling based on statutory or common law. Statutory law is legislation that has been written and adopted as law. Common law is not a law that has been written or adopted. Rather, common law is derived from decisions that have been made recently by the courts. The amount the defendant pays may be determined by the judge, and it may be an amount different than your request.
If you have been bitten by a dog, find a dog bite lawyer in your area. Your lawyer will review the documents of your case to determine the best approach to take for the resolution you seek.
If you have more legal questions, you can also chat online with a Laws101.com attorney where you’ll be instantly connected to a lawyer who can give you legal guidance on your specific case or question.