If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, the next steps might seem straightforward. You seek medical attention for the injuries, then file a claim with the owner’s homeowners or renters insurance.
However, dog bite injury cases are often not so clear-cut. Liability in dog bite claims can be complicated, and state and local laws may impact both the viability of your case and the damages you can recover.
That is why it is important to contact a dog bite injury lawyer as soon as possible after you are hurt. Below we discuss 5 reasons that hiring an attorney after a dog attack is in your best interest.
The Karl Truman Law Office serves clients in and around Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. For a free consultation in Kentucky call (502) 222-2222, or dial (812) 282-8500 for service in Indiana.
Dogs are capable of immense affection, but they can also be very aggressive. This aggression can translate into bites that result in serious injuries.
The places on the body that are most vulnerable to dog bites are the head and face, the neck, and the hands. Bites in these areas can result in:
In addition to the injuries you may sustain from the bite, dogs’ mouths are filled with harmful bacteria. Without sterilization and treatment of the wound, you may develop a serious infection.
Medical treatment for a dog bite can be extensive, especially if you need surgery, physical rehabilitation, or counseling for the trauma of the incident. You should not have to handle these expenses on your own if the dog’s owner is liable for the bite.
Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their pets from injuring other people. This includes walking them on a leash, posting “Beware of Dog” signs, and taking other steps to reduce the risk of an attack.
If the owner of the dog is negligent, he or she may be liable for the injuries their dog causes. However, the owner and his or her insurance company will almost certainly claim that you were at least partially responsible for the attack.
Two of the most common defenses in a dog bite lawsuit are:
The efficacy of these defenses varies based on the laws governing dog bites (more on that in the next section), but it is important to anticipate these arguments when you pursue compensation for your dog bite injury. An experienced lawyer can review the facts and gather evidence to support your claim.
The laws governing civil remedies for dog bites and dog attacks vary by state. In Kentucky and Indiana, there are a few crucial differences in dog bite law that may affect your case.
Dog owners in Kentucky are held to a strict liability standard. As a result, they are liable for injuries caused by their dog even if the dog has not exhibited aggressive behavior in the past.
In addition, Kentucky law does not recognize the trespassing or provocation defenses described above. So, regardless of the circumstances, dog owners are liable for damages in the event of a bite or attack.
However, although the victim is entitled to compensation, the amount they can recover may be reduced if they share in the blame for their injuries. As in other personal injury cases, Kentucky’s pure comparative negligence rule reduces the compensation available in a claim according to the claimant’s level of fault.
Say you are bitten by an unrestrained dog and you sue the owner. If you are found to be 25 percent at fault for the dog bite because you provoked the animal, you will receive 75 percent of the recovery.
Finally, dog bite victims in Kentucky only have 1 year to pursue a claim for their injuries.
One of the biggest differences between the dog bite law in Indiana and the one in Kentucky concerns owner liability. Indiana follows the “one bite rule.” Provided that he or she was not negligent in controlling or restraining the dog, the owner is not liable for injuries if the dog has not attacked or exhibited threatening behavior in the past.
Indiana also recognizes the trespassing and provocation defenses. A victim who was injured by a dog while trespassing may be denied compensation, while someone who provokes the dog may be awarded less in damages per Indiana’s modified comparative fault standard. If you are found to be primarily responsible for the injury, you may be barred from recovery.
Finally, dog bite victims in Indiana have more time to file a claim. The statute of limitations on dog bite claims in Indiana is 2 years.
The company providing homeowners or renters insurance to the owner of the dog will try to pay you as little as possible for your claim. Trying to negotiate a settlement on your own comes with a number of pitfalls, and your recovery from the injuries you sustained should be your top priority.
An experienced dog bite injury lawyer can handle communications and negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf. Your attorney will know what tactics to expect from the insurance company and develop a strategy to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Your compensation should account for all of the losses you have experienced due to the dog bite. This includes not only your medical expenses but the earnings you lose from missing work, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and more.
After hiring a lawyer, you will have access to a dedicated legal resource who can answer your questions and address your concerns. The attorney should also have a legal team who is dedicated to the success of your case.
Building a dog bite claim is time- and resource-intensive. However, your attorney and the support staff should take over aspects of the case such as gathering your medical records, investigating the attack, and more so you can focus on healing.
Serious dog bite injuries require serious legal counsel. The Karl Truman Law Office has decades of experience helping clients with a wide variety of personal injury cases, including dog bites. You can count on us to deliver knowledgeable assistance and caring service in your case.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, please contact the Karl Truman Law Office for a free consultation. Call us in Louisville, Kentucky, at (502) 222-2222 or call (812) 282-8500 for service in Jeffersonville, Indiana.