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Can you sue for a dog bite?
Yes, you can sue for a dog bite. However, the rules are not simple. It is best to have an experienced dog bite lawyer on your side every step of the way. Whether you have the right to receive compensation depends on a number of factors and each case is different.
How much can I sue for a dog bite?
The amount you can recover for a dog bite can vary based on your injuries. But, at Kitay Law Offices, we can help you assess your case and determine a reasonable dollar amount for damages.
Some factors that may affect the value of your claim include:
Scarring or disfigurement
Scarring or disfigurement can affect how much compensation you should receive for your injuries. If the scar is noticeable and will take a significant amount of time to heal after the bite occurred, this could negatively impact your ability to find employment in some fields. This means that an injury with scars may lead to a larger settlement than one without visible signs of trauma.
Serious or permanent disability
Another factor that can influence value is whether it has caused any physical limitations on day-to-day tasks like going up stairs, walking long distances, lifting heavy objects, etc. These factors play into what type of job someone might be able to do after healing from their dog bite wounds as well as other aspects of life such as getting married or having children.
Emergency medical treatment
If your dog bite injuries sustained in a dog attack require emergency medical treatment, the value of your case may be increased. Some injuries will automatically require emergency care in that you will have to go to a hospital or urgent care center. On the other hand, some dog bites might just need minimal first-aid treatment at home. However, your injuries may still warrant an appointment with the doctor for stitches or rabies shots because dog bites can get infected without proper medical attention.
Surgery or long-term medical care
Unfortunately, some dog bite injuries require surgery or result in long-term medical needs. Further, this may cause significant ongoing medical bills. If this occurs, contact a dog bite lawyer to explore how much you can sue for a dog bite.
Mental health therapy or counseling
The trauma from a dog bite can be more than just physical. It can also affect your mental health. If you have a dog bite injury that affects your mental health, contact a counselor or therapist to help with the trauma.
How do dog bite lawsuits work?
In Pennsylvania, “The Dog Law” controls liability for dog bites. The Dog Law is a group of statutes that regulate dog ownership. Further, it provides remedies for harm that dogs may cause.
The law applies statewide. Interestingly, dog bites are a special kind of personal injury case and have their own rules that we must follow.
Generally, an owner is responsible for injuries to others caused by his or her pet. Property owners, dog owners and dog keepers have a duty to ensure that their dogs do not cause injury to others. The principle behind this duty is that these individuals must maintain control over the physical presences of their dog.
What compensation can I get when I sue after a dog bite?
Under the Dog Law, the owner or keeper of a biting or attacking dog is legally liable for payment of all of the victim’s medical costs. However, Pennsylvania does not impose absolute liability upon dog owners for injuries their dogs cause. Instead, proving the owner’s negligence is required to pursue additional compensation, beyond medical costs.
In order to recover full compensation for all of the harm he/she endured, including pain, suffering, disfigurement, anxiety, loss of income, a dog bite victim must prove:
- The dog previously bit or has shown aggression toward another person, without justification
- The dog demonstrated a “dangerous propensity” to bite or attack, without justification
- Its owner/keeper was in violation of leash laws or other ordinances relating to the dog’s confinement or care.
How long will my dog bite case take?
How long your dog bite case will take depends on a variety of factors that you should discuss with your dog bite lawyer. Typically, however, the length of your case depends on how it ends up being resolved. Here are some examples of resolutions that could impact how long your dog bite case will take:
Dog Bite Settlement
Some defendants settle out of court to avoid paying the costs and risks associated with a lawsuit. In order to make sure you can’t sue them again, they’ll ask for your signed release or agreement not to file another claim in the future.
When someone is bitten, criminal restitution may cover the medical costs, property damage and lost income. First, the offender must be convicted of a crime related to the attack. Second, and perhaps more importantly, restitution must also be ordered for the injuries that resulted from the dog attack. In a typical criminal case, defendants are required to pay only monthly installments at relatively low rates.
If your case does not settle out of court, your dog bite attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf. This process is lengthy, complicated and costly.
If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to understand your options for legal recourse. It is also critical that you get in touch with an experienced dog bite law firm as quickly as possible.
Does dog bite insurance coverage exist?
Various types of insurance cover dog attacks. Insurance companies may offer this type of coverage in a specific policy or as part of a broader insurance policy. The most common type is homeowner’s insurance. However, it can be difficult to find out if the dog owner has the appropriate coverage.
Having an experienced dog bite law firm involved from the start can increase your chances of finding dog bite insurance coverage that can help to pay for your damages. Importantly, here are some examples of policies that may include dog bite insurance coverage:
- Commercial property insurance
- Renter’s insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Umbrella insurance
While there may be others, these are the most common policies that include dog bite insurance coverage.
8 Things to Do After Suffering a Dog Bite Attack
Even if you are careful, dog bites can happen. When they do, you need to take action. Here are eight steps you can take after a dog bite:
Seek medical treatment immediately
Obtaining immediate medical care after a dog bite is a very important step that cannot be overstated. A dog bite is a serious injury – even the most minor of bites can lead to severe issues, infections and other complications.
Record the contact information of the dog owner
If you don’t personally know the dog owner, it is important to get their contact information. If you do know the dog owner, it’s a good idea to also ask for his or her contact info in case anything should happen.
Obtain the contact information of any witnesses
Whether there is an insurance investigation or your case goes to court, witness statements can make all the difference. If there is a dispute about what happened, witnesses can be instrumental in providing factual evidence.
Take photos of the injury and the dog responsible for it
It is hard to argue that your injury is on the dog owner’s property if there are photos of it happening.
Ask the dog owner for their homeowner’s insurance information
In most cases, the only way you will be able to recover compensation for your injury is if the dog’s owner has homeowner’s insurance. Most individuals don’t have a ton of money sitting in their bank accounts waiting to pay dog bite claims.
Obtain rabies information
Ask the dog owner to provide you with proof that the dog has had a rabies vaccination. This is a requirement in Pennsylvania.
Report the incident to animal control or law enforcement, as appropriate
Alerting the authorities about what happened will help make sure that the appropriate steps are taken in regards to your injury. In addition to witness statements, investigation reports from the authorities can help show that the dog owner is responsible for your injuries.
Document all medical bills incurred from treatment
You are likely to incur medical bills as a result of the injury. It is important to keep track of those expenses in order to be able show that you are entitled to compensation to cover those costs.
How much does a dog bite lawyer cost?
The short answer is that it costs nothing to have a dog bite law firm bring a lawsuit on your behalf. This is because dog bite attorneys work on contingency. In other words, you do not pay any up-front fees or costs and your lawyer only receives compensation at the successful conclusion of your case. The expenses your lawyer incurs while pursuing your case come out of the proceeds from any settlement or award.
5 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Dog Bites
The best dog bite case is one that doesn’t happen. We can all take precautions to make sure that we are as safe around dogs as possible. Here are 5 steps you can take to prevent a dog attack from happening in the first place:
Socialize your dog
Socializing your pet helps your dog feel at ease in different situations. By introducing your dog to people and other animals while it’s a puppy, it feels more comfortable in different situations as it gets older. It’s also important to use a leash in public to make sure that you are able to control your dog.
Be a responsible pet owner
Basics of responsible dog ownership that can help reduce the risk of dog bites include carefully selecting the dog that’s right for your family, proper training, regular exercise, and neutering or spaying your pet. In doing so, you can make sure that your dog is less likely to feel territorial or aggressive.
Educate yourself and your family
Learn about the proper way to approach a dog, if at all. This is important both for you and for your family. It can be tempting to reach out and try to pet that cute dog. But before you do, ask the owner for permission first.
Avoid risky situations
It’s important to know how to avoid escalating risky situations and to understand when you should and should not interact with dogs. You should avoid petting a dog in these scenarios:
- If the dog is without its owner
- The dog’s owner does not give you permission to pet the dog
- When the dog already appears anxious or scared
- If the dog is growling or barking
Pay attention to body language
Just like people, dogs rely on body gestures, postures and vocalizations to express themselves and communicate. While we cannot always read a dog’s body language accurately, it can give us helpful clues as to whether a dog is feeling stressed, frightened, or threatened.
Let a dog bite attorney at Kitay Law Offices seek justice
The sooner you get a dog bite attorney on your side the better. You can be sure the insurance company will have a lawyer on their side as they want to pay the least amount of money possible.
Hiring a dog attack lawyer early improves your chances for recovery. Contact us online or by calling 888-KITAYLAW today!