Dog bites are painful and traumatic experiences. Many dog bite victims are often left with serious injuries, some of which may need long-term care.
Filing for compensation after a dog bite is the best way to collect compensation for your losses.
Understanding your rights and how to file for compensation is essential after a dog bite.
Understand Dog Bite Laws
Understanding dog bite laws is an important step in filing for compensation after a dog bite.
Arizona follows a principle of strict liability. This legal principle almost always allows dog bite victims to hold owners accountable.
What is strict liability?
Strict liability is a legal principle that says a person or group is responsible for any damage they cause, even if they were not legally negligent.
This means that even if the dog owner did not intend to cause harm, they could still be held liable for any injuries or losses suffered by the victim.
This rule applies to all dog bite cases in Arizona, meaning owners are always responsible for any damages.
It also means that any victims can seek compensation for damages without proving that the owner was negligent. You also don’t need to prove that the owner knew their dog was dangerous or had a history of aggressive behavior.
Assess Your Injuries
Assessing your injuries is an important first step in filing for compensation after a dog bite.
It’s important to document any physical or emotional trauma you have suffered due to the bite incident. So keep receipts of all your medical expenses, and document any days of work you’ve had to miss while you recover.
It is also crucial to note any long-term effects that may arise from the attack. These can include psychological trauma, scarring, and other physical or emotional issues.
Keeping track of your losses and the impact of your injuries on your life will help your personal injury lawyer build a strong case for compensation.
Common injuries associated with dog bites
Common injuries associated with dog bites can range from minor to severe. The most common injuries include puncture wounds, cuts, and lacerations.
Particularly severe attacks may also leave victims with nerve damage or broken bones.
Bite victims also often experience severe facial injuries. These injuries can leave permanent scars that may affect the victim for the rest of their life.
Dog bites can also cause psychological trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or difficulty sleeping.
For many victims, the psychological harm caused by dog bites can persist long after the victim’s physical injuries have healed.
The importance of seeking medical attention
Seeking medical care immediately after a dog bite can make filing a claim easier and minimize the risk of further injuries.
Even if the injury seems minor, it is essential to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. This examination will ensure that potential infections or other complications are identified and treated quickly.
Additionally, seeking medical attention will provide you with documentation of your injuries and treatment, which you can use to support your compensation claim.
If you wait, the insurance company’s attorneys may claim that the dog bite didn’t actually cause your injuries.
Gather Evidence of the Bite
Gathering evidence of your bite injuries is another important step in filing for compensation after a dog bite. Documenting any physical or emotional trauma you have suffered due to the attack is essential.
After a dog bites you or your loved one, take pictures of the bite immediately. Also, take pictures of any other injuries you may have sustained. If possible, take photos of the dog as well.
You should also collect any medical records related to your injuries, such as doctor’s notes and hospital bills. Furthermore, collect the contact information of any witnesses so that they can provide a statement for your case.
Why evidence is important to your case
Evidence is an important part of any personal injury case, especially when filing for compensation after a dog bite. The evidence can help prove that the dog bite was the cause of your injuries and that the owner is responsible.
Furthermore, evidence can also demonstrate the attack’s impact on your life, such as lost wages or medical bills.
Your personal injury attorney may recommend keeping a pain journal to detail the physical and emotional pain you have experienced since the attack. This provides simultaneous evidence of how your injuries have impacted your life and keep the experience fresh in your mind.
Insurance companies may try to dispute your claim or ensure you receive as little as possible. However, having evidence to back up your case can help ensure that you get the full amount of compensation that you deserve.
Identify the Liable Party
The next step in filing for compensation after a dog bite is identifying the liable party. The owner of a dog who bites someone will usually be held responsible for any injuries caused by their pet. However, finding the owner might not be easy if the dog roamed loose.
Finding the liable party may require some investigation. You may need to contact local animal control or the police to help track down the dog owner.
Additionally, you may need to speak with witnesses who saw the attack or anyone else who may have information about the dog’s owner.
Other parties may also be liable for a dog bite, such as a rental property’s landlord or the business owner where the attack occurred. For instance, if a dog bites you at a pet daycare or vet’s office, you may be able to file a claim with their business insurance provider.
File a Claim for Compensation
Once you have identified the liable party, you can begin pursuing compensation. Fortunately, the pet owner’s renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policy will usually cover damages caused by dog bites.
Calculating your damages
Accurately calculating your damages is essential for ensuring you’re fairly compensated for your losses. The amount of damages you can seek depends on several different factors. The more severe your injuries are, the more you will likely be able to collect.
When calculating your damages, it is important to consider all the costs associated with your injuries, such as medical expenses and wages you’ve lost, as well as your pain and suffering.
The award you receive should include compensation for your current costs and any future treatment or therapy you may need.
But accurately calculating damages can be complicated. To figure out how much you should demand in a settlement, you will likely need the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. They have the experience and legal tools to help determine the full compensation you are entitled to.
Sending a demand letter
Once you have calculated your damages, the next step is to send a demand letter to the liable party.
A demand letter outlines your claim and requests compensation for your losses. It should include detailed information about the incident, such as:
- The time when it occurred
- The place where it happened
- The evidence of your injuries
- Any other costs associated with the attack
Your demand letter should also include a deadline. If the liable parties fail to respond or offer an inadequate settlement by the deadline, you may need to file a lawsuit.
Negotiate a Settlement
While some cases may wind up in court, the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled privately. Insurance companies know that going to court is expensive and time-consuming, so they’re usually willing to negotiate a settlement to avoid litigation.
Negotiation can be long and difficult, especially if you’ve been seriously injured. Your attorney will leverage the threat of legal action to get the insurance company to offer a fair settlement.
The amount and quality of the evidence collected immediately after an accident can play a significant part in negotiations.
For example, if you have extensive photographs and eyewitness statements, your attorney may be able to convince the insurance company that you’ll likely succeed in court.
If your attorney can successfully negotiate a satisfying settlement, you can sign a release form to accept the offer and end the case.
Take Legal Action
Unfortunately, insurance companies are often unwilling to offer a fair settlement for dog bite claims. In some cases, they may believe they’ll succeed in court or simply hope you drop the case.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable amount for your injuries, your attorney may suggest taking your case to court. A personal injury lawsuit is a civil action that seeks to hold the liable party responsible for their negligence and recover damages for your losses.
Lawsuits can have unpredictable results, even with the best legal representation. They can also be time-consuming and stressful, but being prepared can make the process easier and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
What to expect during a lawsuit
A dog bite lawsuit is a complex legal process that can take months or even years to resolve. However, knowing what to expect before filing a lawsuit can make the legal process much less intimidating.
A lawsuit begins when your attorney files an official complaint with the court. This document outlines your claim and requests compensation for your losses. After the complaint has been filed, the defendant will be able to file an answer, which contains their response.
Discovery is the next step of a personal injury lawsuit. During discovery, both sides will collect evidence from the other. It may include taking depositions, conducting interviews, and requesting medical records and other documents.
Once the discovery phase is complete, the parties may enter into settlement negotiations to avoid a trial. If neither party can reach an agreement, the case will proceed to trial.
Both parties present their cases and evidence to the judge or jury during a trial. The judge or jury will decide following the trial’s conclusion. If your claim is accepted, you can get compensation for your losses.
Hire the Right Attorney
Hiring the right attorney is essential to receiving a fair compensation offer after a dog bite injury. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options and guide you through filing a claim and negotiating with insurance companies.
When comparing law firms, look for legal professionals with experience handling dog bite cases like yours. Ask potential attorneys about their past successes and ensure they have the resources to calculate your damages accurately.
You should also look for a lawyer with a track record of delivering successful results in the courtroom and at the negotiating table.
If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury in Arizona, trust Wade and Nysather to provide the aggressive representation you deserve. Our legal team is committed to helping you achieve justice and ensuring you’re fairly compensated for your losses.
Contact our law firm today to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer and schedule a no-cost, no-obligation legal strategy session.