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Dog bites can happen quickly and without notice. They can leave you with injuries and mounting medical bills. You may not even be able to engage in normal daily activities. After suffering a dog bite injury, you have legal rights. A personal injury attorney can help you seek just compensation for your injuries.

Is a Dog Bite Considered Personal Injury?

Yes. Dog bites are considered personal injury and fall into the category of common personal injury claims, like car accidents and slip and falls. If you’ve suffered a dog bite, you can seek compensation for your injuries from the owner of the dog.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

If you’ve suffered injuries resulting from a dog bite, there are specific steps you should follow.

Seek Medical Attention

If your injuries are severe, call 911. If your injuries are less serious, it is still essential you seek medical care as soon as possible. Complications with dog bite injuries are common, including infection. Receiving medical attention soon after the incident can lessen your chances of any complications. 

Gather Information

If possible, collect information and evidence at the scene of the incident. This includes:

  • Photos of the scene,
  • Pictures of your injuries, and
  • Witness information.

Be sure to get the dog owner’s information. Also collect any information or documentation pertaining to your case, including medical bills and a record of lost wages.

Report the Incident

Many states require a victim report the dog bite to local authorities. Local agencies, like animal control, can gather important information, including whether the dog has its rabies vaccination. They can also decide how to handle the situation, depending on whether the dog remains a threat to others.

What Is the Average Settlement for a Dog Bite?

Settlements are agreed-upon resolutions to a case. After suffering dog bite injuries, you will want to engage in settlement negotiations with the dog owner to recover compensation. The dog owner or their insurance company will pay the settlement.

You may seek compensation for a variety of things, including:

  • Medical bills,
  • Lost wages, 
  • Pain and suffering, and
  • Scarring.

Your settlement will highly depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident. No two dog bite cases are alike. Therefore, there is no average settlement for dog bite injuries.

Filing a Dog Bite Personal Injury Claim

When looking to file a dog bite personal injury claim, follow these crucial steps.

Determine Fault

Typically, a dog owner will be liable if their dog caused someone harm, even if they were not negligent in restraining or supervising the animal. Most states operate under strict liability for dog bites, meaning that if you have a dog, you will be held responsible for their actions. 

Certain states use a “one bite” rule. This rule states that after a dog bites someone once (or harms them in another way, such as knocking them over), an owner should be aware of their dog’s propensity to harm others. In states that follow the one bite rule, if you can’t show that the dog had previously caused harm to someone, you will need to prove that the caretaker’s or owner’s negligence caused your injury.

Every state has different laws regarding dog bites. When meeting with your attorney, discuss your state’s dog bite laws and how they can affect your case.

Documentation

Documenting all aspects of your claim can have a significant impact on your case. Some of the most important information to gather includes:

  • Medical records,
  • Medical bills,
  • Record of lost wages,
  • Witness reports, 
  • Scar evaluations, and
  • Photo and videos.

The more information and evidence you gather, the stronger your case. Every bit of information you have can help prove your case.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If insurance is involved, the dog owner’s insurance company will likely want to speak with you. Do not talk to them without first consulting with an attorney. Insurance companies often try to get recorded statements and will utilize these statements to limit their liability.

Aside from helping with the insurance company, a personal injury attorney will be your ally. Your attorney will handle all aspects of your claim, including:

  • Dealing with the insurance company;
  • Gathering relevant documentation;
  • Investigating your case; and
  • Engaging in settlement negotiations.

Having a personal injury attorney will allow you to focus on your recovery while putting you at ease, knowing your claim is in good hands.

Factors That Play a Major Role in Your Case

Because every dog bite incident is different, many factors will affect your settlement. The following are the most prominent factors that will affect your dog bite case.

Age

Age can be an important factor in dog bite cases. The age of the victim matters. Often, minor children will have the ability to receive larger settlements than adults for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Adults are more aware than children;
  • Children are less likely to be able to defend themselves; and
  • A dog bite will often cause permanent emotional damage.

While adults can still recover fair compensation for their injuries, there is an added layer of complication when the victim is a child.

Injuries

The severity of the injuries incurred will undoubtedly affect your recovery. A surface injury that heals quickly will never be worth as much as a severe injury that requires surgery. 

Dog bite injuries can vary greatly. Some of the most common include:

  • Puncture wounds,
  • Lacerations,
  • Infections,
  • Dismemberments,
  • Nerve damage, and
  • Scarring.

The more serious the dog bite, the more you will be able to recover for your injuries. 

Ongoing Issues

Many dog bite injuries will eventually heal with medical treatment, and you will be able to go back to living your everyday life. However, in certain circumstances, serious injuries can leave you disabled and unable to resume your daily activities. In these cases, you can seek additional damages, including lost wages and pain and suffering.

Status of Injured Person

If you were lawfully on the dog owner’s property or on public property when the dog bite occurred, you should not have any issues recovering compensation. But if you were trespassing on someone’s property when their dog bit you, you are unlikely to be able to recover much, if at all.

Most state’s laws do not protect trespassers, so your status at the time of the incident will play a role in your recovery efforts. Additionally, if you did something to provoke the dog, you may be barred from seeking compensation, or the amount of your damages may be reduced.

Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Gerling Law has over five decades of experience helping injured clients recover the compensation they deserve. Our team offers top-notch legal representation, never backing down from even the most challenging cases. We recognize every case and client is unique, and we’re always ready to fight aggressively for your rights. We offer free case evaluations. Contact us today, and let’s see how our team can help you. Go with Experience. Go with Gerling ®.

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Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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