Is a Dog Bite Lawsuit Worth Pursuing?
An encounter with an aggressive dog is not only startling, but this event can cause serious injury if a dog bite occurs. Depending on the situation and severity of your injuries, you might choose to pursue a dog bite lawsuit. These legal actions might help you recover money to pay medical bills and lost wages if you could not work during recovery.
The most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that an estimated 4.7 million dog bites happen annually in the United States. Not all injuries require medical care. But just under 800,000 people must talk to a doctor or visit an emergency room for treatment.
Who is Held Liable in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
In most cases, the dog owner is held liable for the injury. So, if you win the lawsuit, the owner will need to pay the financial and medical bills. Sometimes, there are exceptions where the dog’s owner isn’t liable, and there is no financial restitution available.
For example, if you were trespassing or provoked the animal, then it weakens your case. Share all relevant information with your attorney when you are discussing the matter. These details will help your legal representative decide if it’s worth pursuing a dog bite lawsuit.
When you have a solid case and can easily prove that the dog owner is liable, then there’s a good chance you can settle the claim out of court.
Who Pays for Medical Bills?
Keep in mind that a dog bite lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean that the owner will be paying out-of-pocket. Instead, many people have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies that pay for the emergency room visit or medical costs.
One consideration to help you decide if you should sue is the circumstances of the dog owner. Your lawyer will help with an investigation to determine if the person will be able to pay. If you decide to sue a dog owner who doesn’t have insurance or any assets, then there isn’t a way for you to collect payment.
So, your attorney might recommend against the lawsuit because the legal bills will be more expensive than the money you can recover.
How Much Money Will You Get?
The severity of the injury affects the amount of money you can receive from the lawsuit. Most dog attack cases result in minor injuries, which means only a tiny amount of money is available for the victim’s medical bills.
But there are times when larger financial payments are available. If any of the following situations applies to you, then you might be able to ask for a higher amount:
- Disfigurement or visible scarring
- A visit to the emergency room
- Permanent disability
- Surgery is required
- Recovery includes extended medical treatments
- Counseling or therapy is necessary to overcome PTSD
- Age – children usually receive more due to their size and injuries
A severe dog bite lawsuit usually pays tens of thousands of dollars covering medical bills, lost wages, out-of-post costs, and other related expenses. When disfigurement or permanent disability happens, the victim can receive $100,000 or more.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily keep every penny paid through the settlement. For example, if your health insurance plan paid for the medical treatments, most of the money will reimburse the medical company for these costs.
Are You Eligible for “Pain and Suffering” Compensation?
In addition to reimbursement for your medical bills, you might also receive compensation for damages (also known as pain and suffering). This extra compensation depends on the severity of the injury and how much it interrupted your life.
There isn’t a set amount for pain and suffering compensation. Your attorney will assist in negotiating the terms of the settlement to protect your interests. As the negotiations are happening, you can choose to accept the offer or ask for more money.
Small Claims Court vs. Hiring a Lawyer
If it was a minor injury, you might consider pursuing compensation through small claims court instead of hiring a lawyer for a dog bite lawsuit. While small claims court offers a DIY solution, you might be missing out on a larger settlement. Don’t underestimate the benefits of having an experienced lawyer assist in preparing your case.
For example, most small claims courts limit settlements to $10,000 or less. Your lawyer might be able to help you get a higher payout if your injury was severe. So, it’s wise to seek legal advice before pursuing compensation through small claims.
One reason why it makes sense to hire a lawyer for a dog bite lawsuit is the time and money you will save overall. In small claims court, you must prepare your case and present the information in court. Most people need to take time off work, causing them to lose more money in wages.
For some people, it’s cheaper to hire a lawyer for a dog bite lawsuit because you can recover more money, and you don’t have to spend time preparing your case.
Immediate Injuries vs. Long-Term Consequences
There is a statute of limitations for injury claims, which means that you must file the claim within this window of time. If your injuries are minor and you decide not to sue, you might change your mind later because of the ongoing results of the injury.
Make sure to talk to your lawyer about the time frame so you don’t miss your opportunity if you decide to file a claim.
Hire a Dog Bite Attorney
Do you have a solid case for a dog bite lawsuit? Talk to an experienced attorney for an evaluation. We’ll review your information and help you decide if you should pursue a claim. Not only does our legal team assist in preparing the case, but we also help our clients know their rights.
If you need assistance with a dog bite lawsuit or any other type of personal injury case, then AMA Law is just a phone call away. Contact our office to talk to an Oklahoma attorney and learn more about your options.