Being bitten by a dog is not only painful and traumatic, it can be very costly as well. Emergency room visits or even major plastic surgery can be necessary after a severe dog attack on your or your child. Because of these expenses, you may believe that hiring a dog bite lawyer to recover damages for your medical bills, as well as your pain and suffering, would cost too much. However, if you search for dog bite lawyers, you will find that taking legal action does not have to be cost-prohibitive.
When Insurance Isn't Enough
If you or your child has been attacked by a dog and an insurance adjuster handles the claim, you are likely to be given a settlement offer that is quite low. Hiring dog bite lawyers ensures that your claim is given the respect and care it deserves. Without a dog bite lawyer, you are at the mercy of an insurance claims adjuster whose biggest job is to save the insurance company money – not to provide you with all the remedies you are entitled to under our justice system.
It is unlikely that your dog bite lawyer will ever bring the case to a courtroom. In many cases, dog bite lawyers can negotiate a better settlement with an insurance company so that you can move on with your life as quickly as possible.
Contingency Fee Structures and Free Consultations
Dog bite lawyers understand that their clients may not have the money to hire a lawyer at their normal hourly rate. Most will offer a free legal consultation, which will allow the dog bite lawyer to assess whether your case is strong enough to take on. If you have a good case, your dog bite lawyer is likely to offer you a contingency-based fee structure.
If your case is taken “on contingency,” you won't need to pay any money to your dog bite lawyer upfront. Instead, the lawyer will take his or her fees out of the settlement you are awarded. This fee, which is likely to be around one-third of your total settlement, is only paid if you are awarded damages.
What kind of damages will my dog bite lawyer seek?
While you may only be taking your direct medical bills into account, dog bite lawyers are trained to understand the full range of consequences of a dog attack on an adult or a child. If your skin has scarred as a result of dog bites, or you have endured pain or psychological trauma due to a dog attack, these are also injuries that you can be compensated for in most states. Every case is different, and hiring a dog bite lawyer can increase your chances of being compensated fairly for your pain and suffering.
What to Bring To Your Consultation
If you are hiring a dog bite lawyer for yourself or your child, you should bring along documentation of your medical treatment and expenses, as well as photographs documenting the extent of the dog bite injury. Be ready to talk to your dog bite lawyers about any other problems you may have suffered from the dog attack: has it impacted your range of motion? Did it cause you to miss work? Did you require psychological treatment or counseling as a result of the attack? If so, make sure to inform any dog bite lawyers you talk to – these facts may make a difference to the damages you are awarded.
Why Hire a Specialist Dog Bite Lawyer?
Dog bites are one part of a larger area of law called personal injury law. While some personal injury attorneys handle dog bite cases, dog bite lawyers specialize in dog attacks and do not handle cases having to do with other kinds of personal injury (for instance, an automobile accident). This level of specialization means that your dog bite lawyer will understand the exact nuances of dog bite law within your state and municipality.
While a generalist personal injury lawyer may be able to help you with your dog bite claim, a dog bite lawyer will be more experienced in investigating the history of the dog that attacked you or your child, as well as obtaining expert medical consultants to assess the full extent of your injury.
What happens to the dog?
Some dog bite victims worry that hiring a dog bite lawyer may lead to the dog being put down. This could not be further from the truth – dog bite lawyers are not allowed to take any action that you do not endorse. While notifying animal control may be in your best interest for maximizing damages, if you ask your dog bite lawyer to refrain from calling an animal control department, they are legally obligated to follow your wishes.
Many dogs do not need to be put down after biting. Unless the dog caused severe injury or death, it is much more likely that the dog will be quarantined and released to its owner after a few days to make sure that the attack was not caused by a health problem, like rabies. The dog owner may also have to register the dog as being potentially dangerous. You can always ask your dog bite lawyers questions about your state's laws pertaining to the consequences for dogs that have attacked people.
When do I need to consult dog bite lawyers?
Depending on your state of residence, you have between one and six years from the time when you were bitten to pursue a claim against the owner of the dog. Because state laws vary, it is important that you consult with dog bite lawyers quickly after the incident occurs, so that you are not “shut out” by the statute of limitations – the law that guides how long you have to sue after you are injured by a dog.
Even if your state allows several years to pursue your claim, finding a dog bite lawyer early is a good idea: it makes investigation of the dog and its owner easier, and it makes it more simple to find all the records pertaining to your dog bite.
If you have been bitten by a dog, then you need to get a dog bite lawyer to represent you so that you can get fair compensation for your injury. Whether you have a dog that has bitten someone else or if you have been bitten by a dog, you need to get good dog bite lawyers who are on your side. The dog bite lawyer will have to prove fault of the dog or the owner of the dog in order for the victim to collect damages.
The extent of the injuries of the victim will determine what is a fair settlement. Dog bite lawyers can go to court if need be, but would usually rather settle the case quickly for a fair sum of money than have to take it to court.