According to the CDC, more than 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites yearly, with 800,000 requiring urgent medical attention. Dog bites are serious and can lead to traumatic injuries. If a dog has bitten you, you can file an insurance claim with the dog owner’s insurance company or sue the owner for monetary damages.
Unfortunately, many people don’t see the importance of talking to an attorney after a dog bite. Most dog bite insurance policies cover off-property bites by pet dogs. Hiring a dog bite attorney is prudent for the following reasons.
1. Dog bites are financially straining
Unfortunately, most Americans haven’t attained the true definition of financial stability. The recommendation that you should save a third of your monthly income for emergencies is unrealistic in most households. Surprisingly, more than half of Americans survive without savings.
As such, most people cover unexpected expenses, including medical bills, by charging their credit cards, taking a loan, or asking for help from their friends and family members. Apart from mortgages, medical bills are a significant contributor to financial instability.
Accidents and illnesses can happen to anyone, including health-conscious persons, unexpectedly. Unfortunately, even with comprehensive health insurance, medical bills from dog bite injuries can quickly accumulate, running into thousands of dollars. Even with your insurance coverage, you’ll have to pay for the following:
- Emergency room visits
- Blood tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic procedures
- Ambulance transportation
- Outpatient medical services
- Rehabilitation therapy and physician services
These expenses can deplete your insurance coverage and savings. Therefore, you should file a compensation claim with the dog owner’s insurance company. A dog bite attorney will fight to ensure you receive compensation for the following:
- Medical bills – it is the highest expense resulting from dog bites. This includes doctors’ fees, medication, physical therapy, hospitalization, and psychological treatment.
- Loss of income – you should also seek compensation for lost income if you can’t report to your place of work because of dog bite injuries.
- Pain and suffering – victims are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering caused by the dog bite.
- Property damage – damaged property, such as eyeglasses, phones, and other items, should also be compensated.
2. Protects your legal rights
Not knowing your legal rights after a dog bite can significantly undermine your case and the amount of compensation awarded. Dog bites are mostly a once-in-a-lifetime event unless you are a dog trainer or purely unlucky. Regardless of the situation surrounding the bite, most people haven’t paid attention to dog bite laws.
Like other personal injury cases, you can rightfully represent yourself. However, handling the legal aspects of the case is very complicated. You can easily make mistakes that can void or reduce your compensation. For instance, you shouldn’t record or give a statement to the insurance company, as they can twist the statement in their favor.
Hiring a dog bite lawyer protects your rights as a victim and provides guidance on the best way forward. Dog bite attorneys also understand local and municipal dog bite laws. For instance, they understand the difference between “no-bite” and “one-bite” laws.
3. Help preserve your relationship with the dog owner
Surprisingly, dog bite victims are often known or related to dog owners. Victims and owners often have several interactions before sustaining dog bites. Therefore, you shouldn’t get into a legal tussle with your neighbor, friend, or family member because of a dog bite. Therefore, hiring a lawyer removes your personal involvement in the case.
Hiring a dog bite lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean you want to file criminal charges against a person well known to you unless the dog owner encourages the dog to initiate the attack. Your attorney will most likely settle the matter with the dog owner’s insurance company. They give the insurance company enough evidence to substantiate your claims. This ensures that your ties with the dog owner aren’t severed.
The Bottom Line
In most states, dog owners are liable for injuries and property damage caused by their dogs. However, the amount of compensation payable to the victim depends on several factors. Hiring a dog bite lawyer ensures you receive fair compensation from the liable party.