When you suffer from a dog bite, you may be hesitant to take action against the dog owner. You can rationalize in your mind that the owner didn’t intend for the dog to hurt you. But the facts remain that medical costs can add up. If you are a dog bite victim, it is okay to enter litigation to help pay for your losses in the situation.
First Things to Do After a Dog Bite
Ideally, the owner is present and cooperative in the case of a dog bite. But sometimes, their tune changes after the initial exchange, so do not count on kindness and care by skipping essential steps in the process. Here is what you should do if a dog bites you:
- Take Pictures: If your injuries allow, take detailed pictures of the bite wound, similar to taking photos of a car accident and damage. Do not wait for weeks after the accident when the case is underway. It is best to take pictures immediately to show the severity of the harm.
- Record the Owner’s Name and Contact Information: If the dog owner is present, ask for their name and phone number so that you can contact them about medical information. This part of the exchange may feel uncomfortable but think of it as if you got in a vehicle accident with the person. You would exchange information. The owner should be just as cooperative in a dog bite scenario.
- Write Down Details of the Incident: Sit down and write a detailed account of the accident. For example, was the dog on a leash? How big was the dog? How vulnerable did you feel? Did its owner do anything to try to stop the dog? These specifics will be crucial to the case.
- Record the Description of the Dog: Describe the dog to the best of your ability. This part is even more vital if the owner isn’t present. Of course, it isn’t likely that you will try to hold onto the dog or read its tags if it bit you. But you can try to snap a quick picture or observe an identifying quality about the dog so you can find the owner after reporting the incident.
- Reach Out to Any Witnesses: If any passersby witnessed the dog bite, ask for their information. Also, record their description of the scene. This witness account can help your case and back up your side of the story if the owner isn’t present or is denying fault.
When you follow the required steps after a dog bite, you are more likely to receive compensation to help pay for medical bills. Do not assume that people are friendly and will work with you. Cover yourself by taking pictures and writing down details.
Determining Who Is At-Fault
For dog bite cases, the owner is almost always at fault. For example, if a dog approaches you and the neighbor shows any neglect toward avoiding the incident, then they are responsible for the dog’s actions.
Here are some examples of owner neglect:
- Failing to put a leash on the dog
- Not warning you that the dog may be aggressive
- Allowing the dog to enter your property
- Not stopping the dog or calling it back when it goes after you
In some instances, you can be the one responsible for the dog bite:
- Entering someone’s property without permission
- Approaching the dog after a fair warning of aggression
- Threatening or attacking the dog
If you were not the aggressor in the attack, you likely have a legitimate case for compensation. Remember that it is not your responsibility to determine if the owner wanted you to get hurt. Instead, you need to determine if the owner could have done more to stop the incident from occurring.
What Kind of Insurance Pays for a Dog Bite?
When you exchange information with the dog’s owner, you can ask for their insurance information. Home insurance often includes any pets that reside in the home and cover the liabilities associated with those pets.
If the pet is a breed that is known to be threatening, some home insurance policies will not cover them. In that case, the dog owner should have animal liability insurance. This supplemental coverage is available to those who own dogs that are known to be aggressive and confrontational.
Similar to filing for compensation with a driver’s insurance in a car accident, you will file a claim with their insurance company and wait to receive payment. In the meantime, you should run all medical bills through your medical insurance. Then, once you receive a payout, you can reimburse yourself for your medical bills.
What If the Dog Owner Does Not Have Insurance?
If the owner does not have insurance coverage on their pet, the owner is responsible for your medical costs. When this is the case, it can be more challenging to receive payment for your suffering. You may need to file a lawsuit to receive the compensation you need for the dog bite. Hiring a professional lawyer to help you through this process is highly recommended.
Even in the case of an insured pet, a personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the insurance negotiations. You should never take the first offer from an insurance company. Instead, let an experienced lawyer negotiate your pain and suffering costs. Then, when you have professional representation on your side, you can be sure that you won’t get stuck paying for bills that resulted from the neglect of a dog owner.
Contact a Trusted Personal Injury Lawyer
Dog bite cases can be complex and render the need of a lawyer. AMA Law can help. The benefits of hiring a lawyer outweigh the costs. Talk with a trusted lawyer to learn your rights and chances of receiving a payout with our case. When you don’t know your rights, you miss out on getting the maximum compensation that you deserve. Please contact us today for a consultation.