Dog attack cases can result in some of the most significant damages, including the psychological trauma of such a violent incident. Given the hardline mandates for liability in a dog attack case, hiring an attorney may seem unnecessary. Still, liability is not the only element you need to prove. Sometimes, the defendant can make a claim that could derail your case without the help of an experienced dog attack attorney to aid you in responding effectively. If you suffered injuries in a dog attack incident, consider the elements of a standard personal injury case and how an attorney can help you get the financial compensation you need to restore your life.
How Does Liability Work in a Dog Attack Case?
Liability in a dog bite case is relatively straightforward. Most states adhere to strict liability, a legal concept that makes the dog owner the liable party in a dog attack case, with few exceptions. For example, Massachusetts strictly places liability in a dog attack case on the dog owner unless the person injured trespassed on the property when the dog attacked or harassed and provoked the dog, resulting in the attack. Once you file a claim with the dog owner’s insurance policy, which can be renters or homeowner’s insurance, you should expect the company to respond with a claim shifting partial or all blame to you. However, if their claim is reasonable, that does not automatically mean you lose all possibility of recovering damages.
Shared Fault in a Dog Attack Case
To handle cases where the dog owner and the victim share fault for the attack, the court in most states applies the comparative negligence rule. In this case, the strict liability rule would no longer apply, and the court will consider your role in the accident. For example, if you took your dog to a public park without a leash and it began fighting with another dog owner’s animal without a leash, you would both already be liable for the fight because you failed to use a leash in public. Additionally, if you suffered injuries from the other dog while trying to break up the fight, you would be at least partially responsible for the damages.
Your eligibility for compensation in a shared fault dog attack case depends on the type of comparative negligence mandated in the state. In a pure comparative negligence state, you could be as much as 99% to blame for the attack and still receive the remaining 1% in damages. In a modified comparative negligence state, you would not qualify if you are more to blame than the dog owner. For example, Massachusetts is a modified comparative negligence state. You cannot receive damages if you are more than 51% at fault. If you are less than 51% at fault, you can receive an award for total damages minus a portion representative of your percentage of responsibility.
What Does a Dog Attack Lawyer Do?
Suppose you face challenges to your dog attack claim or suffer more complications from your injuries. In that case, you will need a dog attack lawyer on your side to ensure you get the necessary compensation to cover your medical costs. Some ways a dog attack lawyer contributes to your case include:
- Building up support for your claim by identifying evidence to support negligence and damages
- Using the evidence collected to negotiate efficiently with the insurance company for a settlement so you can avoid the lengthy and costly trial process
- Preparing your case for trial should the insurance company employ bad faith tactics to avoid paying for damages
- Applying legal knowledge to protect your right to compensation
- Preparing all the paperwork you need to file your claim with the insurer or your lawsuit with the court if necessary
Dog attack attorneys work in personal injury law. They understand the nuances of liability claims and what you need to prove your right to compensation. On average, people with legal representation receive a higher amount of damages at a faster rate.
Damages From a Dog Attack Case
To adequately value your claim, you must calculate all your damages and provide supporting evidence to show a direct correlation between the attack and your injuries. In doing so, you can claim the economic and non-economic losses common in dog attack cases. Examples include:
- The medical care you needed for your injuries, including medication, surgeries, ambulance costs, emergency room expenses, necessary medical devices, and rehabilitative care
- The cost of future medical care if your injuries will require ongoing treatment
- The wages lost from missed work
- The wages lost from an inability to perform the same job you had prior to the dog attack
- The repair of any property damaged by the dog directly or indirectly
- All other out-of-pocket expenses related to the attack, including the cost of transportation for medical care and help you need at home while recovering
These are only the economic damages, meaning those objectively proven using tangible bills. However, cases involving severe injuries can also lead to non-economic damages, mainly referring to the psychological trauma a dog attack can cause. These damages include loss of enjoyment in life, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish. If you suffered any non-economic losses, hiring a dog attack attorney is advisable. They can help you identify, prove, and value those claims.
What if the Dog Owner Is Someone You Know?
Sometimes victims of dog attacks avoid seeking compensation for fear of damaging their relationship with the dog owner. However, if you suffered significant losses, your attorney can help you file the claim and work with the insurance company to get the compensation you need for your losses. In most cases, the attorney can work directly with the insurance company to negotiate a settlement without involving the dog owner unnecessarily. In that way, they help you preserve your relationship while getting the financial help you need during a difficult time.
Should You Call and Schedule an Appointment With a Dog Attack Lawyer Today?
Unless you have a law degree or work in the legal field, you likely know little about dog bit claims and how the process works in civil court. In that case, you need somewhere you can find answers. You can start by scheduling a free case evaluation with a legal professional with experience in personal injury law and dog attack cases. As the victim, you have rights to compensation, and sometimes claims can quickly become more complex, especially if the insurance company tries to shift blame from the dog owner to you.
At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we prepare and settle dog attack cases daily. Our team of dog attack attorneys can guide you in the right direction by letting you know the best legal options available to you, given the circumstances surrounding your case. We understand that victims of dog attacks are under a substantial amount of stress caused by physical, emotional, and financial burdens. To help alleviate that stress, we offer our advice and representation on contingency. The first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee is that you pay nothing until we settle your case. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today to schedule your consultation. There’s No Obligation, Just Information.