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Dog Bite Injuries: Understanding Your Options

May 27, 2024
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Dog bites are a surprisingly common occurrence, affecting thousands of people each year. While most dog encounters are positive, a sudden attack can leave you feeling physically and emotionally traumatized. The aftermath of a dog bite can be particularly confusing, leaving you unsure of your legal rights and path forward. Here, we’ll break down the key information you need to know and explore the options available to you.

The Legal Landscape of Dog Bites

Dog bite laws vary by state, but most jurisdictions follow either a “strict liability” or “one-bite rule” approach:

  • Strict Liability: In strict liability states, the dog owner is held responsible for any injuries caused by their dog bite, regardless of prior knowledge of the dog’s aggression. This simplifies the process for victims, as they don’t need to prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
  • One-Bite Rule: Under the one-bite rule, the owner is only liable if they knew or should have known their dog had a propensity to bite. This can make it more challenging for victims to recover compensation, as they need to establish the owner’s awareness of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.

Did You Know?

Even in strict liability states, there may be exceptions. For instance, some states may not hold owners liable if the victim was trespassing on private property or provoking the dog.

Seeking Medical Attention

The first and most crucial step after a dog bite is seeking medical attention. Even minor bites can become infected and require prompt treatment. Ensure the doctor documents the bite location, severity, and any required treatment. These medical records will be vital evidence if you pursue legal action.

Preserving Evidence

If possible, gather evidence of the attack:

  • Witness Statements: If anyone witnessed the bite, get their names and contact information. Their statements can corroborate your version of events.
  • Photos: Take pictures of the bite wound, including close-ups and images showing the location on your body.Document any visible injuries such as bruising or swelling.
  • Animal Control Reports: If animal control responded to the incident, request a copy of the report. This report may contain details about the dog’s breed, vaccination history, and any prior bite incidents.

Exploring Your Options:

Following a dog bite, you have several options to consider:

  • Negotiating with the Dog Owner’s Insurance Company: Most dog owners have homeowner’s insurance that covers dog bite liability. You can attempt to negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance company to cover your medical bills and other damages.
  • Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit: If negotiations with the insurance company are unsuccessful or the owner lacks insurance, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Reporting the Bite to Animal Control: Regardless of whether you pursue legal action, report the bite to animal control. This helps track the dog’s history and ensures animal control can take appropriate action if necessary.

The Benefits of an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Navigating the legal complexities of a dog bite case can be challenging. A personal injury lawyer can be your strongest advocate:

  • Understanding Your Legal Rights: They will explain the specific dog bite laws in your state and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Gathering Evidence: Lawyers know how to gather and present evidence effectively, strengthening your claim.
  • Negotiation Expertise: They can negotiate with the insurance company to secure a fair settlement on your behalf.
  • Trial Representation: If necessary, your lawyer will represent you in court and fight for the compensation you deserve.

A dog bite can leave you with lasting physical and emotional scars. Kruse Law understands the challenges you face. Our team of compassionate and experienced attorneys will tirelessly pursue all available options to recover the compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Call Kruse Law today at (973) 792-8992 for a free consultation and let us fight for you.

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