Know Your Rights in a Dog Bite Accident
Millions of people suffer dog bites every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with approximately one in five dog bite victims requiring medical treatment for their injuries. Unfortunately, children are the most common dog bite victims, and most bites occur in someone’s home. It’s important to note that a majority of dog bite injury claims are filed with the owner’s, renter’s, or homeowner’s insurance company, rather than against the dog’s owner. Laws vary regarding dog bites; some states impose strict liability for dog bites, meaning that the owner is automatically liable for any dog bites, as long as the victim was lawfully on the premises. This would include guests who were invited onto the property as well as those who are present to perform a duty, such as a postal worker. This law would also apply if a dog bite occurs at a public park or anywhere else the victim was legally allowed to be at that time.
There are a few exceptions, such as if someone is trespassing or unreasonably provoking the dog, but most of the time the dog owner is responsible for all damages and injuries that occur in these situations. In some states without dog bite laws, there is a common-law principle which is sometimes followed known as the “one-bite rule.” This principle holds dog owners responsible for injuries resulting from a dog bite if they knew or should have known that their dog was vicious or dangerous. In Colorado, while you must still generally prove negligence on behalf of the dog owner, the strict liability approach is often the predominant theory and law when the victim sustains severe bodily injury.
What should you do if you are the victim of a dog bite?
Knowing what to do after a dog bite is essential in receiving the care you need and the compensation you deserve. Dog bite injuries can pose serious health risks, including puncture and bite wounds, possible scarring, joint and orthopedic physical damage that may require surgery, tendon and ligament injury, scar tissue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, emotional pain and suffering, and PTSD, so it is important to know what to do immediately following a dog bite incident to protect yourself. Important first steps after a dog bite include the following:
- Medical Attention: It’s important to seek medical attention immediately, especially for puncture wounds and more serious injuries, as puncture wounds are prone to infection. If possible, take photos of your dog bite wounds before they are treated for accurate documentation of the harm done. Obtain a copy of the doctor’s report, photos of your injuries, and any other documentation such as medication receipts in a safe place. Your attorney will need this documentation if you decide to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
- Documentation: In addition to documentation of your medical treatment, keep a record of any pain, decreased mobility, or inability to perform certain functions. This can be in the form of medical records, photos, journal entries, and other written records. You should also write down the events and circumstances surrounding the dog bite in as much detail as possible.
- Expenses: You should also keep detailed records of any expenses you incur as a result of the dog bite. This can include medical bills, lost wages, and travel costs. The more accurate, detailed documentation you have regarding the incident, the easier it will be for your attorney to assess the amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries.
- Exchange Information: Just as with a car accident, you should obtain the name, address, and contact information of the dog’s owner or caretaker. This will help you contact them after the incident, and verify the dog’s vaccination history, as some dogs are not properly vaccinated against rabies, which can be life threatening. Keep a record of any interaction or correspondence you have with the dog’s owner and witnesses.
- Witnesses: Get contact information for anyone who witnessed the incident. If a lawsuit or insurance claim is filed, eyewitness accounts can help corroborate your claim and provide an accurate picture of the incident.
- Animal Control: If a police report was not filed at the time of the incident, you should make a formal report. Filing a dog bite incident report with your local animal control agency may help prevent future dog bites, and their investigation may help your case.
How does it work/what should you expect?
Most dog bite injury claims are settled out of court between the two parties involved. Insurance companies are notorious for getting people to accept low and unreasonable settlement offers, which is why it is best to have an attorney who is familiar with insurance companies and their tactics and knows the best arguments, Colorado case law, areas of compensable losses and calculated damages used to obtain a fair settlement for your injuries. The settlement amounts in these incidents often involve detailed analysis by the attorney to assess a variety of factors that can lead to a large recovery in your case. This includes past medical treatment, long-term future care, permanent functional impairment, lost income and earning potential, pain and suffering, chronic pain issues that lead to diminished quality of life and other expenses, losses and damages.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be well-versed in how to accurately calculate your losses to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Your attorney can be instrumental in dealing with the other party’s insurance company, negotiating a fair settlement and ultimately will save you the stress of dealing with an insurance adjuster who is pressuring you to settle quickly, unfairly and against your own interests.
Past Case Results
At Whalen Hersh, we have successfully represented dog bite victims over the years. Our goal is to establish a direct, meaningful, trusted and reliable relationship and secure a settlement that is fair and equitable. Our firm exclusively represents clients against insurance companies and big corporations in personal injury matters. We will work closely with you to ensure that you are justly compensated for any loss suffered as a result of a dog bite injury.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a dog bite incident and are seeking a compassionate, experienced, personal injury attorney with a proven track record of success, give us a call. Whalen Hersh lawyers will fight for your best interests both in and out of the courtroom. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.
You can reach us in Denver at (720) 307-2666 or in Colorado Springs at (719) 644-7000 to learn more. Our offices are located in the Denver Tech Center at 7955 East Arapahoe Court, Suite 2375, Centennial, CO 80112, and in Colorado Springs in the Alamo Corporate Center located at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 1100. We look forward to working with you.