According to the CDC, 154,625 dog bites in 2022 occurred among children younger than 14. This statistic is enough to prove that a dog bite is a serious matter and can be extremely dangerous, especially for the younger population.
Although a dog is a man’s best friend, anyone can suffer a dog bite. Not all dog owners know proper dog training techniques, and if you have ever suffered a dog bite, you know just how traumatic it can be.
But you may wonder, “Is a dog bite worth suing over?” Are the legal fees and the hassle worth it? Although suing for a dog bite may not always be ideal, there are certain situations where it may be necessary. But first, let us review some preventative measures to help you avoid a dog bite;
Preventing a Dog Bite
Here are some tips you should follow when interacting with a dog;
- Remember to ask the owner if you can pet the dog before approaching it.
- Make sure to approach new dogs slowly and gauge their reaction the whole time.
- Begin by reaching out with the back of your hand to allow the dog to sniff your scent.
- Approach every dog cautiously, and always remember that any dog can get aggressive.
- Try not to approach a dog aggressively, especially when they are vulnerable.
- Teach your children to avoid barking or growling at dogs or throwing things at them.
- Always keep your children in sight when there is a dog around.
Bitten by a Dog? What’s the Next Step?
You can hold the dog’s owner accountable if you have sustained some injuries, minor or severe, following a dog bite. This means that you can sue them for the damages. However, only the court can determine liability.
This liability is going to vary from one state to another. It is important to hire an attorney who can help you with the intricacies of the process. You can prepare a strong defense with your attorney, who can also help you understand whether it is worthwhile to file a lawsuit in your case.
For example, some states follow the “one bite” rule, meaning that dog owners are only accountable if they know of their dog’s previous aggression and fail to prevent the bite. In other states, dog owners are liable by default.
Here are some of the compensations you can receive if the dog owner is held accountable;
- Medical bills, including rehabilitation and therapy.
- Lost wages from any time taken off work.
- Veterinary bills in case of a pet injury.
- Loss of the quality of your life in case of serious injuries that interfere with your everyday life.
- Psychological trauma as a result of the event or injuries.
Is a Dog Bite Worth Suing Over?
In 2022, a dog bite insurance claim cost was $64,555 on average. However, this amount is only received when you win the dog bite lawsuit. Here are some hurdles that you may need to consider;
1. Proving Liability
Figure out whether you live in a “strict liability” state or one with a “one bite” rule. Depending on these factors, you can hold the dog owner accountable for the first or second dog bite incident.
If you were bitten, and it was a first-time incident for the dog, and the dog owner, a state following the “one bite” rule may not hold the owner liable. You need to be able to prove that the owner had previous information that the dog might bite or that the owner did not exercise reasonable care.
Consider speaking to a dog bite lawyer who can figure out the minute details for you and help you understand local rules and regulations.
2. Fighting the Defenses
In every state, the defense for a dog bite differs. The answer to “Is a dog bite worth suing over” will also change from one state to another.
For example, in some states, if you were trespassing, you would have no right to recover any damages from the dog bite. Moreover, you may not have a strong case if you provoked the dog in any way or approached it despite the dog owner warning you to stay away.
Keep in mind that with a good lawyer, you may still be able to win the case. However, your lawyer can help you figure out whether you need to change your approach.
3. The Nature of the Bite
A dog bite lawsuit is only worth pursuing if your bite is severe enough for compensation. If you have only had a small skin puncture, you may not want to waste your resources on an extensive lawsuit. Remember, lawsuits may also require a lot of investment.
Moreover, if the bite has occurred on an insured property, homeowner’s insurance may be able to provide you with compensation. In fact, it can save you from going to court and from a messy lawsuit.
Why Should You Contact a Lawyer?
Pursuing a dog bite lawsuit on your own can be tricky. You may not know all the legal intricacies that allow you to fight a case. An experienced attorney can get you a settlement with the insurance company or defend your case in a way that leads to compensation.
Your lawyer can also help you understand whether your case deserves compensation and how much you can expect just so you can gauge whether you should pursue the case.
Furthermore, one of the best rewards of hiring an attorney is reaped at the final stages of the process when dog owners attempt to negotiate a settlement. A lawyer can educate you on whether you should reject or accept a settlement or whether the compensation is fair enough.