Dog bite attacks occurred over 4.5 million times in 2016, but not all dog bites are serious. A puppy's bite might not lead to injury, and some bites are minor. Other bites can lead to severe injuries or infection. Some dogs may even have to be put down because the injuries they inflicted were so serious.
Victims of dog bites hire dog bite attorneys to estimate their compensation and fight their case in front of a lawyer.
But how is compensation determined in dog bite cases?Initial Steps Following a Bite
A victim of a dog bite should contact the dog's owner and inform the owner that the dog has attacked. The owner's insurance company will often be called. A settlement may be offered, but it's always advised to contact a lawyer before agreeing to a settlement.
Insurance companies must protect their investors, and the goal is to offer a low-ball settlement to victims.Determination of Compensation and Damages
Dog bite laws and state personal injury laws will dictate the victim's rights to compensation and damages. In terms of damages, compensation is collected to make a person "whole" again. The level of compensation depends on several factors:
- Medical Bills. Injuries from dog bites will result in some level of medical bills. A victim will have to determine their past, present and future treatment needs. The amount of treatment required will be factored into the total compensation offered. A person that will require life-long treatments will need a higher settlement to cover their future medical and treatment costs.
- Wages. Lost wages, and future lost wages, will factor into compensation. A person that lost a hand during an attack may no longer be able to stay in their career. In this case, they will be able to sue for lost future wages, which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
- Disability. Disability and disfigurement will factor into the settlement.
- Distress. The person's emotional distress from the dog bite is another factor.
- Replacement or Repair. A dog bite may have resulted in property loss. Watches, glasses or clothes that were damaged in the dog attack will factor into compensation under replacement or repair costs.
If a person has to hire someone to help them do every day chores while they recover, this will also be included in the overall compensation package.
Negotiations will occur between all parties involved:
- Dog owner
- Insurance company
Private negotiations will be the first step in finding an amicable resolution. Both the dog's owner and insurance company may be responsible for the settlement costs. The ideal solution for all parties is to negotiate the settlement out of court.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will need to be tried in front of a judge.
Court settlements are lengthy, and it will take longer for the victim to receive their money. A benefit of going in front of a judge is that the settlement is often larger. The problem is that victims fail to account for attorney fees, which are higher when an attorney has to go to trial.
There is also no guarantee that a judge will rule in the victim's favor.