Dog owners are liable for any hurt their pets impose on another person. However, this is dependent on the relevant laws and the circumstances on the case. Most dog bite disputes never get to court because many dog owners or their insurance companies settle the disputes through negotiations. Victims that share part of the blame may see the reduction of their total compensation.
When injured by a dog, contact the owner, then write a letter setting out what happened (regardless of whether they are aware of what happened). Write down an itemized list of all costs you incurred while mentioning the state and local dog-bite laws. Inform the dog owner that you intend to file a court case. It’s prudent to mention that their homeowner’s insurance can settle the claim for them since most aren’t aware.
If you cannot negotiate your way to a settlement through this means, you may now move to court. Here is a breakdown of damages that the court may grant for dog-bite personal injury claims:
Medical Bills Incurred
Medical bills are inherently the most apparent expenses from dog-inflicted injuries. Medical bills include doctor bills, medication, hospital services, physical therapy, psychological treatment, and any cost incurred in line with treatment.
If an injury aggravates a pre-existing medical condition, you may also receive compensation for the medical bills. The standard legal law is that once you hurt someone, all damages that flow from the action are your responsibility. The responsibility to bills from an injury is not limited when a pre-existing condition escalated the extent of the injury.
Pain and Suffering
Mauling is associated with not just physical pain but emotional or mental suffering. Emotional distress could result from all the physical pain, along with extensive medical procedures. Distress could also result from the trauma of the dog attacking you. Victims of dog bites may get a debilitating fear of dogs that makes them afraid of being outside.
Other victims may suffer shock, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and any other psychological symptom. In severe cases, some victims may develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). If the suffering and pain continue, victims may get an amount in settlement for future pain and salary.
How then is a price put on one’s suffering? This is where a personal injury lawyer comes along. Insurance companies, attorneys, and jurors have the requisite skills to evaluate “non-economical” forms of distress. To ensure you get compensation for everything, including those you were unaware could be compensated, seek a lawyer’s counsel when you decide to evaluate your claim. It’s not too late if you’ve already passed this stage, a lawyer could come in even at the negotiation stage with the insurance company.
The Lost Income
Medical diagnosis, treatment period, and recovery may require you to take time off work. If you lose income from this, you’re entitled to reimbursement for any income you lose. Worse still, if you end up impaired from ever working again, you should compensate for future income loss. This kind of compensation is known as a loss in earning capacity.
Loss of Consortium
If unfortunately, the dog-bite hurt your relationship with your spouse, you may get compensated for the loss of consortium. Loss of consortium includes the loss of intimacy or companionship. When you’ve hired an experienced attorney, you may also get compensation for the impact of a dog bite on a parent-child if either was injured.
Owners who conducted themselves outrageously or recklessly may have to pay punitive damages—for instance, allowing a vicious dog to run loose. Punitive damages in such cases are an extra amount above and over the amount required to compensate the victim.
The reason behind exemplary or punitive damages is sending a strong message through the financial hurt to prevent any similar future behavior.
However, punitive damages come up in personal injury claims; this is why it’s essential to consult a lawyer before making a claim or having a lawyer represent you altogether. If you sue under strict liability of dog bites statutes, the owner is only liable for the bite irrespective of their dog’s history, or the account of their carelessness.
Some cities, states, and counties have specific laws about dangerous dogs. One of the hazardous dogs’ rules is that the owner of a dog previously declared vicious or dangerous has to pay double or even triple the damages if their dog injures a person.
Some dog-bite statutes may also make its owner liable for multiple times the damages if their dog had previously bit somebody else. Although similar to punitive damages, this compensation is dependent on the area having specific statutes for multiple damages. Additionally, multiple damages will still apply regardless of whether the dog owner was reckless.
How Do I Know if a Case Worth Claiming
The critical factor in a dog-bite case is the losses that stem from the incident. Also, how much do you stand to recover in damages were the case to go all the way to trial?
Estimating potential recovery isn’t easy; the lost income and medical bills are pretty much the only figures you’ll manage to give a reasonable estimate. Based on previous similar cases, educated guesses are the best predictors of pain and suffering, which are more personal losses.
What this infers is that you need an attorney; right from the word go, before even deciding to go to trial. Let an attorney break the case down for you, evaluate the claim and your chances of winning. The decision to proceed will inherently still be in your hands.
Claim Your Settlement for Your Dog Bite
No matter how sorry a dog owner may be, sometimes some damages have too much impact to be left unsettled. A dog owner is financially and legally responsible for their dog’s bites that cause injury to an individual.
Sometimes, you may reach an agreeable settlement between yourself and the dog owner. However, if unsatisfied with their offer or lack of one, do not hesitate to move the case to court. Now, aware of all the damages you could claim, speak to a lawyer, and find out the worth of your claim.
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