The Best Reasons To Hire a Dog Bite Attorney
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, then you should consider hiring a dog bite lawyer.
Dogs are lovely pets to spend time with but they can also bite you and cause serious injuries. It is estimated that four and a half million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. A fifth of those bitten end up seeking medical attention because their wounds are severe.
Children are at a higher risk of being injured by dog bites because they might not know how to act around dogs and they are also small in size. Believe it or not, most people get bitten by dogs they interact with. There are many reasons why a dog can bite you:
- Possessiveness– a dog can bite you when it is protecting “property”. Property could be anything from humans, toys, or even food. Herding breeds and guard dogs are the worst offenders but any dog can exhibit this behavior.
- Fear– a dog can bite you out of fear. It can bite when it is in unfamiliar territory or when strangers are around. Dogs can also bite when startled.
- Pain– when a dog is in pain, no matter how friendly it is, it can bite. The pain can be as a result of an injury or a medical condition. Consider taking your dog to the vet if it becomes snippy for no reason.
- Maternal Instincts– a female dog that has just whelped recently can become a biter regardless of how well trained it is. Be sure to handle the puppies with care and provide a safe and warm place for the puppies and mother to stay.
- Prey drive– some dogs give chase when you cycle or run past them. If this happens, stop moving and stand still facing the dog. Don’t make eye contact because it will think that you are challenging it.
When Should You Hire A Dog Bite Lawyer?
The moment a dog bites you and inflicts injuries, you should hire a dog bite lawyer to help you get compensation. You can do it yourself and file a claim against the dog owner’s insurance policy but this will put you at a great disadvantage.
Insurance companies will try to offer you less than you are entitled to because they know the system and will even go to the extent of making you feel like you provoked the dog to attack you. A dog bite lawyer who has vast experience in such cases will ensure that you get the justice that you deserve.
Why You Should Hire A Dog Bite Lawyer
There are several reasons why you should consider hiring a dog bite lawyer:
- You are worried that the dog owner’s insurance company will short change you when negotiating
- You are not comfortable directly negotiating with the dog owner’s insurance company
- You do not have the energy or the time to start negotiating a settlement with the dog owner
- Your injuries are severe and you cannot determine the true cost of your injuries.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney to Handle Your Dog Bite Case
If you are an adult who has been bitten by a dog, it can be very helpful to hire a lawyer to handle your claim, rather than trying to settle on your own. Dogs bite nearly 5 million people in the United States every year and around 15,000 of them get compensation for their injury, less than 1%. In most cases, an insurance adjuster will only pay a victim who files a claim without a lawyer 10 or 20% of what would be given with a lawyer. The other 80 or 90% gets pocketed by the adjuster. A lawyer works on a contingency basis and usually only charges about 33% of the outcome, leaving about 66% entirely for the victim.
You Don’t Pay Unless We Win Your Dog Bite Case
The term contingency basis means that the lawyer will not make the victim pay for anything. Payment only comes from a successful lawsuit in which the victim receives compensation, and then a percentage of that outcome will go to the attorney costs. Anyone who tries to settle a dog bite claim on their own assumes the responsibilities of an attorney without the knowledge and experience to do so, and causes resentment with the insurance company that can make dealing with them difficult. By themselves, victims may make unnecessary accusations or say incorrect things that can hurt their case. With a lawyer, they can simply say, “My lawyer said that.”
An Experienced Dog Bite Attorney Can Navigate the Legal System to Achieve a Positive Result for You
Therefore, having a lawyer can do away with the stress associated with making legal deals without experience and almost always results in a better outcome. An experienced lawyer knows not to harass or confront the dog owner involved in the case, make them feel guilty, embarrass them, put them in a bad light or act harshly. A rash victim might demand that the dog that bit them be put down, which is a ridiculous suggestion that can damage the victim’s reputation. With a lawyer handling the case, a dog owner will see that the victim is acting rationally and any additional anger on the owner’s part can be avoided.
A lawyer will carry out a thorough investigation
A dog owner might have known his pet was dangerous or didn’t take the necessary steps to prevent the attack; however, you might not have the resources to prove that he was negligent. A dog bite attorney will be able to conduct an investigation and establish whether the dog owner acted responsibly. If the dog has attacked someone in the past and the owner had knowledge of this, it could support your claim for damages and compensation.
Knowledge of Dog Bite Laws
If you suffered a severe injury resulting in fractures, disfigurement or cosmetic surgery and the dog bite happened without being provoked, a lawyer can help you initiate a claim against the pet owner for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Severe injury claims are only valid if the dog has not bitten or attacked anyone before.
If the dog bite was not serious, you may initiate a claim for medical expenses only. The other scenario is if the owner knew that the dog had a previous history of biting or attacking another person. In this situation, you may pursue a dangerous dog claim against the owner and seek compensation for the damages you sustained. A lawyer understands dog bite laws and are up-to-date on legislation that affects them.
Dog bite lawyers have skilled negotiations skills because they know how to deal with insurance companies. When the dog owner or its insurance company offers you less a than reasonable settlement to pay out as little as possible, it does not mean you have to accept it.
A lawyer can review the offer and convey the seriousness of the incident on your behalf to try and convince the insurance company to increase the settlement offer to a more reasonable level. If an insurer does not provide a sufficient offer to settle the matter, an attorney will know this and can fight for your best interests.
Most professionals do not have the personal and field experience with dog bites to negotiate with insurance companies or pursue a claim against the dog owner. Dog bite lawyers handle these types of cases often. When an attorney deals with these attacks, he or she may initiate the matter in court or communicate with an insurance carrier appropriately. Without hiring someone with this professional experience in animal attacks, you may not receive the compensation deserved.
Access to Valuable Resources
Hiring a dog bite lawyer provides you with plenty of valuable resources through a team that will contribute to the case. The other members of the legal team will research and investigate the case and gather evidence to determine the dog owner was negligent. To successfully handle complex matters, it usually takes a team. With this help, you are never alone.
Your Own Personal Advocate
With a legal advocate, you have someone on your side. An attorney will work on your behalf to fight for the maximum compensation you are entitled. A dog bite lawyer will also help determine the extent of the at-fault party’s liability, as well as whether any other parties share responsibility. In addition to the dog owner, other responsible parties may include:
- Landlords when it is known there is a dangerous animal
- Parents of minors when the dog is owned by someone under the age of 18
- Property owners if he or she let the dangerous dog stay on the property
- Animal keepers or someone involved in the care or upkeep of the animal which may include dog watchers, shelter services or a pound