Victims of dog bites are often going about their business when a dog suddenly attacks out of nowhere. They may not see it coming or be unable to protect themselves from a charging animal. Sometimes a dog bites once, but too many times vicious, continuous attacks ensue until someone else intervenes, or people manage to extricate themselves from the situation.
The resulting physical injuries are devastating enough, but emotional and fear-related trauma can be equally life-altering effects. If you suffer a dog bite encounter in Massachusetts, you have the right to pursue compensatory damages from resulting personal injuries. Jason Stone Injury Lawyers is ready to represent you and see that negligent dog owners are held accountable. You don’t have to manage this difficult matter alone because our team steps in and goes to work for you.
What Issues Affect the Time It Takes to Settle a Dog Bite Claim?
Some critical factors influence the time it takes to settle a dog bite claim. These matters can also determine the time it takes to receive your money.
Medical issues related to dog bites can take significant healing time before the full extent of your injuries is known. While all cases differ, it is essential to clearly understand the physical and emotional harm you’ve undergone and may have to deal with in the future. Rushing the settlement process can be detrimental to understanding your losses entirely. An attorney calculates damages based on current and future losses to recover fair compensation.
Insurance Company Priorities
Some insurance companies are prepared to battle claims regardless of the situation. Even if their client is liable, they may contest a reasonable settlement throughout negotiations in the claims process. It depends on the company and the motivation to wrap up a claim. Insurance companies are notorious for offering lowball settlements until pushed to relent, which is why having an attorney is critical to put pressure on to reach a reasonable settlement faster.
Homeowner’s insurance covers medical expenses after an attack in many dog bite cases. The liability coverage a homeowner carries determines the amount you can recover. In 2021, the average dog bite claim was settled for $49,025. A person who doesn’t have adequate insurance coverage can still be held liable for out-of-pocket costs, but this can slow the payout process.
There are occasions where a lien is placed on a payout by a party wanting to be assured of payment when a settlement is reached. Who can put a lien against your settlement proceeds:
- Healthcare providers
- Private insurance providers
- Government benefit providers (Medicaid, Medicare and VA)
A third party seeking payments must file a request and get approval from a judge to place a lien on your settlement. Any entity or individual with a rightful lien gets paid before you do. A lawyer can negotiate the terms of liens, but your payment can still be held up until these debts are cleared.
Proof of Negligence
Massachusetts follows “strict liability” in dog bite cases. This means injured persons don’t have to show how an owner or keeper of a dog mishandled the animal to prove your case. Your injury stands as proof of negligence.
However, liability is less than certain when trespassing, provocation of an animal, or other legally questionable actions on your part lead to your injury. In these cases, you won’t have a viable claim. Determining negligence can add time to a settlement decision when issues regarding liability arise.
Renter Versus Homeowner Issues
Most homeowner and renter insurance policies have considerable coverage for dog bite liability costs. Policies typically have liability limits from $100,000 to $300,000. A dog owner is responsible for the remaining damages when claims exceed these limits.
Unfortunately, in cases where there is a significant injury to a victim and homeowner policy limits are lower, or a renter doesn’t carry insurance, you may have to wait a long time on reimbursement for your total losses when paid out-of-pocket by the dog owner.
There are situations where dog bites occur on city grounds. Municipalities are largely protected against responsibility for what happens on their turf. However, there may be circumstances when a city is, at least, partially at fault for an incident. While you can name a government entity in a lawsuit, these cases rarely settle quickly due to legal petitions by the government body related to their broad immunity.
How Can Claims Be Expedited?
The claims process can move faster when certain factors fall into place. These elements do not guarantee a shorter settlement process but move a claim forward more efficiently.
Having All the Evidence Upfront
When the evidence in your case proves clear liability, an insurance company may offer a fair settlement immediately. Since Massachusetts follows strict liability on the owner’s part, cases can resolve promptly.
Getting Your Documentation
Insurance companies want evidence of medical expenses, lost wages, and other non-economic damages before offering a full and fair settlement. Producing this information can shave considerable time off a settlement resolution.
Working With a Reputable Insurance Company
While dog bite injury victims can’t control which insurance company they must deal with, having a reliable insurer managing a claim can make a difference in settling a case. A knowledgeable claims adjuster who understands liability in these cases will likely expedite your claim.
How Long Does It Take To Receive Compensation?
Most insurance settlements are paid within 30 days. The payments can be in a lump sum or periodic. Lump sums are the primary way an insurance company handles a payment. Recurring payments, usually monthly or semi-monthly, occur when an owner must pay damages to you out-of-pocket unless they have the means to make a one-time payment. In some states, cases that involve minors or adults incapacitated by injuries must be approved through probate or state court, which can take two to four months before payment is received.
What If Your Case Goes to Trial?
Few cases involving dog bite injuries reach trial. However, when cases end up in a courtroom, it can take months or longer to conclude a lawsuit. A losing party can appeal within 30 days, which means case progression is further slowed, but this scenario rarely occurs. A payout does not happen until the entire matter is decided and damages are awarded.
What Is the Concern With Taking a Quick Insurance Settlement?
In a dog bite claim, you can receive damages that cover both economic and non-economic damages. When physical and emotional injuries are severe, damages you are rightfully due can be extensive. Consult with an attorney before settling a claim with an insurance company to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Work With a Client-Focused Attorney
Jason Stone Injury Lawyers is the team you want on your side after a dog bite injury. These types of incidents can lead to permanently disfiguring and disabling injuries. When a dog attacks you, the fear and emotional trauma may leave lasting psychological scars that affect your overall well-being and ability to cope.
Get an attorney who has a plan for handling your dog bite claim. Our client service model is backed by our Stone Cold Guarantee, a collection of promises we make to you. Call to learn more. There’s No Obligation, Just Information®.