Even though they’re “man’s best friend” and bring much joy to our lives, dogs are unpredictable and can bite anyone at any time. Here in the U.S., over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and about 800,000 of those require medical attention.
Dog bites are especially dangerous because, in addition to the pain and the injury itself, infections from germs are commonly associated consequences.
According to reports, the average payout from dog owners has skyrocketed from an average of $19,000 in 2003 to $37,000 in 2017 – an increase of 93.4%. The problem is so prevalent that most homeowners and renters insurance policies offer coverage specifically for dog bites.
How are settlements reached in dog bite cases?
While each case is different, there are specific factors that will determine the amount of a dog bite settlement, including:
- the extent of your injuries, bills for past and anticipated medical treatment, ambulance costs, etc.;
- your lost wages and reduced earning potential; and
- pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement.
Do I really need a lawyer to settle my dog injury case?
Trying to settle your case without legal representation is a huge risk. In most instances, you will be dealing directly with the dog owner’s insurance company, which is comprised of professional negotiators determined to convince you to settle for as little as possible.
While you may believe you’re getting a good deal, many do not take into account the full extent of the injuries they’ve sustained and the medical treatment that will be required.
Which dog breeds are most likely to bite?
A 32-year study carried out by dog bite victim advocacy group Dogsbite.org revealed the top ten dog breeds that have highest incidents of biting humans.
- Pit Bulls; 3,397 reported instances of bodily harm; 295 deaths.
- Rottweiler; 535 reported instances of bodily harm; 85 deaths.
- Husky; 83 reported instances of bodily harm; 26 deaths.
- Wolf Hybrid; 85 reported instances of bodily harm; 19 deaths.
- Bullmastiff; 111 reported instances of bodily harm; 18 deaths.
- German Shepherd; 113 reported instances of bodily harm; 15 deaths.
- Pit Bull-Mix; 206 reported instances of bodily harm; 12 deaths.
- Akita; 70 reported instances of bodily harm; 8 deaths.
- Chowchow; 61 reported instances of bodily harm; 8 deaths.
- Doberman; 23 reported instances of bodily harm; 8 deaths.
What are the most common injuries from dog bites?
Injuries from dog bites are often very painful and can even result in life-long disfigurement and even death. Among the more common dog bite injuries are:
- nerve damage;
- torn tendons and ligaments;
- head and neck wounds;
- broken bones; and
- emotional trauma.
What should I do if I’m bitten by a dog?
To make sure your legal rights are protected, there are several things you should do after you’ve been bitten by a dog.
- See a doctor immediately so that medical treatment can be initiated and documentation of your injuries can begin.
- If possible, take photographs of the scene of the incident. This is especially important if the dog is not leashed or there are problems with any fencing.
- Take photographs, also, of your injuries to add to the documentation.
- Make sure you know the name of the owner and his or her insurance provider.
If you’ve suffered a dog bite, call the Haymond Law Firm, New England’s most trusted personal injury lawyers.
It’s vital that you have a personal injury lawyer with sound experience in dog injury claims.
With offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York, the Haymond Law Firm has the resources to energetically and aggressively fight for your interests.
For a free consultation, call us at 1-800-HAYMOND (1-800-429-6663).
Real life case results
Case 1: New London dog bite victim awarded
When Addison Hall moved to New London last year, she thought she was getting a fresh start in a friendly neighbourhood. Instead, she got Seth Sawyer. After moving in next door to the retiree, Hall started waking up in the middle of the night due to loud, persistent barking outside. She investigated and found Sawyer’s 70-pound Dalmatian, Rocky, chained to a tree.
Hall spent months trying to persuade Sawyer to bring Rocky inside; she also observed him handling the dog roughly and leaving him outside for hours without water or food. One night, she saw him kick Rocky and threatened to call the police. He ignored her and kicked the dog even harder, prompting her to leap over the fence and intervene on Rocky’s behalf. During the altercation, Sawyer tossed Hall aside and she landed on the dog. Disoriented and scared, he bit down on her left forearm.
Sawyer saw blood and immediately offered to give Rocky away, and she took advantage of the heated moment. Hall called a friend who picked up Rocky and then took her to the emergency room. Hall’s bite required 25 stitches, but she feared Rocky, not Sawyer, would pay the ultimate price if she reported it. The bite grew infected, and after her second trip to the emergency room, Hall took a nurse’s advice and scheduled a free case evaluation with The Haymond Law Firm. We pursued a claim in civil court for money damages immediately seeking compensation for the serious injury and personal stress sustained.
We knew Hall’s case was solid but the offer to resolve the case was far too little in our opinion. We prepared the case for trial. Sawyer’s attorney reached out just before jury selection with a low offer. Because Hall acted in Rocky’s interest and chose to forego a criminal complaint, she spared Sawyer from a one-year prison sentence for animal abuse under Connecticut state law.
Sawyer’s reckless and reprehensible behaviour toward both his dog and his neighbour constituted gross negligence, and we knew a harsher punishment would deter future abuse. We submitted a counter-offer which they accepted. Hall plans to use some of the money to buy Rocky a soft, warm bed for his new, indoor-only home.
Case 2: HLF extracts large settlement for dog bite
While visiting his mother, a young man tried to break up a fight between two of his mother’s dogs.
Unfortunately, one of the dogs bit him on the ring finger and caused a severe laceration. The insurer tried to claim that the dogs were indeed the man’s dogs, and therefore he could not sue himself and was not entitled to any compensation.
We showed that the dogs were, in fact, his mother’s and that he was not the owner or keeper of the dog by producing evidence that he had moved out of his mother’s house three months earlier. The man had to have his ring finger amputated and we negotiated a large settlement.