Friday, July 13, 2012

Victims Of Dog Bite Attacks Can Recover Damages

Statistically speaking, a dog attack is far more likely to involve a person that you know, than a stranger. Although we are personal injury lawyers in different cities, over on Google+ Jonathan Rosenfeld and myself were recently discussing the inherent hesitancy associated with pursuing dog bite claims the dog owner and dog bite victim are friends. In most jurisdictions, as long as the dog is owned by someone outside of the victims household, the victim can assert a claim against the owner under their homeowners insurance policy.

Being a victim of a dog attack can be a frightening and painful experience. To make the situation worse, most dog attacks occur at home, usually meaning the dog owner is someone you know. Regardless of whether the dog belongs to stranger or even a relative, there are often large costs involved that need to be taken care of.

Damage Considerations In Dog Mauling Cases

A victim of a dog attack will need to look at several areas when pursuing reimbursement for the damages caused by the attack. This can seem harsh when it is a friend or relative but if their dog is at fault, they should be the ones to pay for the damages. Many dog bites are covered under home insurance policies, but if not, victims may need to pursue a civil suit. Some damages that victims may need to recover are:

  • Medical expenses. In 2008, the average hospital stay for a dog bite victim was $18,200. This is no little matter and the dog’s owner is responsible for these expenses if they are found at fault. It is not just the initial visit that needs to be taken into consideration but also follow-up visits and therapy that are required as well. This may include medical care for worsening an existing medical condition.

  • Loss of income. If the victim is unable to work due to the injuries, they may be able to recover lost wages. This also applies to future income losses if the injuries will prevent the person from returning to work in the same capacity.

  • Pain and suffering. Although real, pain and suffering are intangible and are ultimately up to either a jury or insurance company to decide what is fair compensation. A generic way to calculate pain and suffering is to multiple the medical damages by up to four times. Considerations will be made for the age of the victim, how the attack occurred and what hardships the victim had to endure after the attack.

  • Disfigurement. The victim of a dog bite attack can recover monetary damages for resulting scars

  • Other damages. If the dog has bitten someone before, sometimes the victim will receive what are termed multiple damages due to the dog’s previous issues. Also, dog owners may be subject to punitive damages if their behavior in controlling their dog is deemed reckless.

How To Proceed With A Dog Bite Claim?

If you are the victim of a dog attack, in most cases the first course of action is to contact the dog owner and ask them to cover the damages, either themselves or through their insurance company. Most homeowners, renters and car insurance policies cover dog attacks, however not all do and not all breeds. Some insurance policies may not cover what they consider to be “aggressive” breeds such as pit bulls or may not cover a dog that has bitten before.

If the damage is large or if the owner is unwilling to pay up, getting a lawyer on your side is probably the best move. They will be able to negotiate on your behalf with the owners and insurance companies. Most likely you can settle without having to go to court, but if it comes down to facing a jury, your lawyer will know the best way to proceed.

No one wins in a case of a dog attack. Regardless of damages recovered, the pain and trauma of going through the ordeal are rarely worth it. Dog owners need to do everything in their power to prevent dog attacks from occurring and all people should use precaution when around dogs that are not theirs. However, if an attack does happen, victims have rights and need to be compensated for their losses.

Jonathan Rosenfeld is a Chicago personal injury lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. Jonathan's office is the sponsor of Chicago Dog Bite Injury Lawyers which is good resource for dog bite victims anywhere.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers
33 North Dearborn Street, #1930
Chicago, IL 60602
(888) 424-5757
Resources for dog bite claims:

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Dog on a Leash

Dog on a Leash
Even while on a leash a dog can attack