Animal attacks are one of the most traumatizing experiences anyone can go through. Some people never fully recover emotionally or physically from the incident. Even worse, children make up a disproportionate segment of animal attacks, especially attacks involving dogs. How you handle animal bite cases from the start can affect your ability to seek justice. This is one of the top reasons hiring an attorney as soon as possible plays a critical role.
What Is a Dog Bite Injury?
When most people think of dog bite injuries, literal dog bites come to mind. These cases are the most prominent, but dogs can injure persons in other ways. For example, imagine a case where a dog attacked two children. The dog knocked one child over, breaking his arm. It then bit the other child. Both children may have a case for compensation. Even though the dog bit only one person, its actions caused injury to both children.
Consequently, some attorneys refer to these cases under the broader header of animal attacks. This description more accurately describes the incidents that could lead to successful personal injury claims.
When Do You Need an Attorney for a Dog Bite Injury?
Only an experienced attorney can determine the feasibility and compensation value of a dog bite case. Consequently, injured persons should always seek a professional review of the details. Here are some specific cases that require dog bite attorneys and why.
Cases Involving Minor Injuries
Minor injuries will likely not result in settlements of five figures or more, but that doesn’t mean negligent pet owners should walk free. They should still be held accountable for those injuries and should cover the medical bills resulting from the incident. An experienced attorney can argue the case in court and refute claims from the insurance company that the injuries do not require payment.
Cases Involving Psychological Distress
Sometimes, people escape animal attacks with minor or no physical injuries, but the mental scars remain. These situations can happen if the person escapes the dog but remains confined while the dog tries to make its way into the space. In other instances, the person could have escaped without injuries but witnessed the mauling of another person. Proving and arguing a case for mental distress will require an experienced attorney.
Cases Involving Serious Physical Injuries
Winning a case with serious injuries might seem like a given. The insurance company might even make an offer that seems high enough. However, the case could be worth far more than that. If the person suffered severe injuries, even $1 million could disappear quickly with surgeries and rehabilitation services. An experienced attorney can determine the case’s true value and negotiate for maximum compensation.
Cases Involving Death
If an animal attack results in death, the deceased’s family members may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the pet owner. An experienced attorney can help them understand this process and what to expect moving forward. He or she will need to identify the eligible claimants. Then there is the difficult task of putting a monetary value on the loss of life, especially if that person was a breadwinner or cared for dependents.
Cases That Stall With the Insurance Company
After an animal attack, the negligent owner’s insurance company will likely try to lowball you. The insurer will also try to get you to make incriminating statements or sign away your rights without fully understanding the documents. One additional negotiating tactic it could use is to simply stop responding. When negotiations stall, an experienced attorney can show the insurance company you mean business.
Cases That End in Denial of Claims
Sometimes, insurance companies outright deny claims. The insurance company could claim the party they represent is not liable or claim the person lapsed on payments. If this happens, the only recourse you might have is to take the case to court and prove that the attack occurred and that the other party is liable. This will require an experienced attorney to guide you through the process.
Cases Where the Owner Has No Insurance
When dog bite incidents occur, injured persons typically file a claim with the owner’s renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance. What if the person has neither? If the person paid off their home loan, they might have opted out of insurance. Similarly, someone who has moved in with friends after a divorce might not have renter’s insurance. An experienced attorney can review the details closely to determine a suitable way forward.
What Kind of Attorney Should You Call After a Dog Bite?
After you’ve been injured in a dog attack, your first priority is seeking medical attention. Once you have secured medical treatment, contact a personal injury attorney. Ideally, you choose an attorney who has experience handling dog bite cases. Animals introduce new dynamics to a case.
Owners feel very protective of their animals and will fight tooth and nail to defend them. That’s because a successful case could increase their risk of losing their pets. The court could order that the animal be put down. A report on file ― even for minor incidents ― means the following incident will likely have more severe consequences.
Here are some additional features you should seek out in a suitable attorney:
- The attorney should have the resources to investigate what happened thoroughly.
- The law firm should have a strong reputation for successfully winning personal injury cases, especially those involving dog bites.
- The law firm should have a strong record of consistently securing big wins so that the cost of their services is worth it.
- The law firm should have independent reviews confirming the quality of their service, such as on Google Reviews.
How Do You Find a Good Dog Bite Attorney?
You will encounter no shortage of attorneys eager to take on your case. Their ability to defend your best interests directly impacts the rest of your life or the person injured, so choose wisely.
Ask Health Care Professionals
While seeking medical attention, ask health care professionals for references. They might have existing law firms they partner with or recall working with other firms in the past.
Get Referrals from Friends, Family and Co-workers
If anyone you know has previously worked with a personal injury attorney, ask for a referral. Even if they don’t know someone, they might know someone else who does.
Check Online Sources
Online directories are a dime a dozen. Any law firm can sign up and create a listing. The best way to confirm the quality of an online listing is to read independent reviews. These will be from actual clients who have worked with the attorney in question.
Why Do So Many Persons Choose Jason Stone Injury Lawyers?
Our personal injury law office has recovered more than $60 million for our clients. This includes several wins over $1 million. While not every case is worth seven figures or more, we do everything we can to get the maximum compensation. We also thoroughly review each case so that we can help our clients set realistic expectations.