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Being attacked or bitten by a dog can be a frightening experience and can result in serious injury and often permanent scarring and emotional trauma.
Contact Ventura Law to learn if the owner of the dog is liable for your injuries, medical costs and other damages you may incur, so that you may be fairly compensated for the dog attack or dog bite injury.
Steps to Take After a Dog Attack or Dog Bite:
Get dog owner’s information
It is important to get the dog owner’s name and contact information (address, contact phone number, and even homeowner’s insurance information if the attack or bite occurred at a residence).
If there are witnesses to the dog attack (other than the owner), make sure and get their names and contact information. Witnesses may play a key role in backing up your version of the dog attack if it differs from the owner’s story.
Get medical treatment
If you are injured by a dog bite or dog attack, visit a medical provider as soon as possible. When you visit a doctor or the emergency room, make sure that you explain how you were injured so that proper records are taken of your injury and how it occurred.
Take a photo of the dog bite/injury as soon as possible. Take photos again every week or so to document the progress of the injury and if there is any scarring.
Document medical expenses
Document all of the medical expenses associated with the treatment of your injuries, including medical bills, prescription costs and insurance co-pays.
Report the dog attack to animal control and check animal control records for prior attacks
After a dog attack, promptly report the incident to local animal control authorities. This is particularly important if the dog did not have any tags or you were unable to locate the owner.
Check with animal control to see if there are any previous documented attacks by the dog in question.
If you or your loved one is attacked or bitten by a dog:
Medical care and bills.
Some dog bites can require extensive medical procedures to repair damage to muscle tissue and nerves or to cover up the appearance of scars that alter the victim’s physical appearance. Bites may also become infected and require emergency treatment to address the infection.
Emotional and psychological trauma
Some victims experience flashbacks of a brutal attack any time they approach another animal. It can impact their ability to socialize with dog owners and make it difficult to maintain friendships and relationships with people who have pets.
It is difficult for children and adolescents to develop friendships and make needed social connections when they are ridiculed over their appearance. Dog bites can leave noticeable scars and make it difficult for children to lead a normal and healthy life without undergoing extensive plastic surgery.
Dog Bite Attorney FAQ
What Are the Types of Dog Bite Claims?
Dog bite laws in Connecticut and New York provide a contrast in how an owner may be held liable when their dog attacks someone.
In Connecticut, dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets. In a strict liability claim, you can recover compensation even if the dog bite injury was not the result of the owner’s negligence.
New York, on the other hand, has adopted a “one-bite rule” in dog bite cases. Generally, the owner of the dog cannot be found liable in an injury claim if they have not observed or were unaware of the dog exhibiting previous aggression or a tendency to bite. The claimant must prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog may bite and failed to take precautions to prevent injury.
An experienced attorney can advise you how the dog bite law in your state may affect your case. The dog bite attorneys at Ventura Law will build a strong claim on your behalf against the owner.
How Common Are Dog Bite Injuries?
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were 17,802 dog bite claims in the United States in 2019 (the most recent year of data). Homeowners insurance policies paid nearly $797 million on these claims.
The average cost of these claims continues to climb, primarily due to the growing expense of medical care. In fact, the III reports that New York had the highest average cost per dog bite claim of any state. Homeowners insurance paid an average of $55,801 per dog bite claim in New York last year.
Connecticut appeared on the III’s Top 10 States by Estimated Number and Cost of Dog Bite Claims in 2018 (with 537 claims and an average cost per claim of $35,644). However, it did not appear on the 2019 list.
Should You Sue After a Dog Bite?
You may have to file a lawsuit to recover fair compensation for the injuries you sustain from a dog bite. However, the more likely scenario is that your claim will be resolved via an out-of-court settlement.
Generally, the first step in your dog bite case is to file a claim with the owner’s insurance company. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies cover damages from a dog bite (up to certain limits and sometimes excepting certain breeds of dog).
The insurance carrier may offer a settlement or deny your claim. Your dog bite attorney will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf if the claim is denied or the insurance company’s offer is low. If the negotiations result in a favorable settlement, you have the option to accept, in which case your claim will be resolved without going to court.
However, if the insurance company will not agree to a fair settlement or your damages exceed the limits of the owner’s insurance policy, you may need to sue for the compensation you deserve.
Can You Sue a Homeowner for a Dog Bite?
Most dog bite claims are grounded in the legal theory of premises liability. If the owner of a property (including the homeowner, the owner of a business, etc.) is negligent and a lawful visitor is injured as a result, the owner may be liable for damages. Occupants of a property (such as the renter of a home or apartment, a business that leases commercial space, etc.) may also be liable.
In dog bite claims, the owner or occupant is negligent when they fail to warn visitors about an aggressive dog or fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from attacking someone. Your dog bite attorney can determine who is liable for the attack. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a claim against a homeowner or the renter of a property.
Does Insurance Pay for a Dog Bite?
After a dog bite, you will need to turn to your own health insurance to cover the initial cost of medical care. Unfortunately, this means that you will be responsible for paying medical expenses not covered by insurance (e.g., copays, deductible, etc.). If you don’t have any insurance, an experienced dog bite attorney may be able to help you get medical care through the homeowner’s policy (medical payment coverage) or through governmental programs.
In most cases, you will be able to recover all of your medical expenses in a claim against the dog’s owner. As discussed above, compensation is typically paid out through a settlement with the homeowners or renters insurance.
Keep a record of all medical expenses and other costs you incur as a result of a dog attack. Our dog bite attorneys will review the bills, explanation of benefits statements, and other documentation to calculate the damages in your claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim?
In Connecticut and New York, dog bite claims are subject to the same statute of limitations as other types of personal injury cases:
- Connecticut: 2 years
- New York: 3 years
You should get started on your claim as soon as possible after you have been bitten by a dog. The owner of the dog and any witnesses to the attack might move away, and it takes time for an attorney to investigate and build a strong claim on your behalf.
Read more: How Long Do I Have to Sue for a Dog Bite?
How Much Money Can You Get from a Dog Bite?
The value of your dog bite claim will depend on the economic and non-economic damages you sustain. Our dog bite attorneys will fully investigate the attack, assess your injuries, and evaluate the losses you have suffered.
No two cases are exactly alike, and prior success does not guarantee a favorable outcome. However, we pledge to pursue the full compensation you deserve from the owner of the dog and his or her insurance company.
The dog bite attorneys at Ventura Law won a $680,000 jury verdict on behalf of a client who suffered injuries in a dog attack. View Our Results.
How Long Does a Dog Bite Case Take to Settle?
The time frame for resolving your dog bite case will depend on a few factors:
- The seriousness of your injuries: Serious injuries generally require more treatment and take longer to stabilize. It is important not to settle your claim before you have an accurate idea of how the dog bite injuries will affect you long-term. Long term impacts of a dog bite, such as scarring or permanent disfigurement, significantly impact the value of your case.
- The extent of damages in your case: Insurance companies are more likely to fight claims involving significant losses. In cases of serious injury or wrongful death involving a dog attack, it may take longer for your attorney to negotiate a fair settlement.
- The insurance company’s willingness to negotiate: Insurance carriers aren’t in the business of resolving claims fairly. Insurance adjusters and lawyers for the insurance company may drag out settlement negotiations or refuse to budge from an initial low offer (or reverse the denial of your claim).
- Whether or not your case goes to trial: Preparing a case for trial and trying the case in court is a time-consuming process. You may have to wait much longer for compensation if your case goes to court, and there is no guarantee of success at trial. However, your attorney may advise you that filing a lawsuit is the only option for recovering damages after a dog bite.
The dog bite attorneys at Ventura Law will help you through all aspects of your claim. Our team serves clients in Danbury, Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwalk, and all of Connecticut, as well as New York. Please call (203) 800-8000 today for a free consultation.