Dog Bite Lawyer - Injury Compensation Claims
If you are the innocent victim of an attack then you may be able to recover compensation. The legal rights of a dog bite victim depend on where the attack happened. Most states make the owner responsible for all bites, even if the pet has not shown any previous aggressive tendencies. In every state an owner or custodian may liable if he or she was negligent or maintained custody or control of an animal with knowledge that it was dangerous or aggressive. In cities with a "leash law," violation alone may constitute negligence.
There are exceptions to the general rules on legal liability and expert advice from a specialist dog bite lawyer is essential. Just some of the exceptions to the general rules are as follows :-
- The victim was a trespasser.
- The victim was a veterinarian who was treating at the time of the incident.
- The victim was committing a felony.
- The animal was provoked by the victim.
- The dog was assisting the police or the military at the time of the incident.
To succeed in a legal claim it is usually necessary for a dog bite lawyer to prove at least the following :-
- The identity of the pet owner
- That the victim was actually bitten
- That the victim, at the time of the bite, was in a public place or lawfully in a private place
- That the bite caused injury, suffering, loss or harm
The legal liability for compensation following a dog bite is determined by "common law" or by separate specific State and community statutes. There are many variations of the law from state to state and city to city even within the same state and it is essential that expert advice is sought from an experienced local specialist dog bite lawyer to ensure that legal liability is established.
The term "common law" refers to the opinions and decisions of judges following consideration of cases heard by them and has developed over hundreds of years. Common law generally indicates strict liability against a dog owner where the owner has knowledge or ought to have knowledge that the animal has a vicious, dangerous or mischievous trait or propensity. For the owner be held liable under common law it must be shown that the animal is dangerous and that the owner had or should have had knowledge of the trait or propensity. If victim's dog bite lawyer proves these two elements then the pet owner is strictly liable. The doctrine of negligence which can also be used to establish liability has also been developed in the common law. Negligence is the doing of something which a reasonably prudent person would not do, or the failure to do something which a reasonably prudent person would do and is the failure to use reasonable care. If negligence is established by the victims dog bite lawyer then the owner will usually be liable to pay compensation.
Assumption of Risk
The defence of assumption of the risk is available in strict liability claims and applies to trespassers, subject to certain exceptions for infants, those involved in voluntarily providing canine services including veterinarians and those who wilfully tease or provoke an animal into violence.
”Statutory” strict liability ensures that an owner is strictly responsible for bites and will always be held responsible. It is unnecessary for a dog bite lawyer to accuse the owner of being negligent or breaking the law in order to claim compensation.
The states in which statutory strict liability applies are as follows ;
Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois , Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine , Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island , South Carolina, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
One Bite States
The remaining states have the “one free bite” rule and the pet owner is not liable for the first injury, unless caused by negligence and thereafter there is strict liability for harm caused by an animal that is known to be dangerous.
The "one-bite states" are;
Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming.
Free Legal Advice
If you are the innocent victim of an attack then you may be able to recover compensation using a contingency fee arrangement which means that if your dog bite lawyer doesn't succeed in getting a settlement for you then he won't get paid his legal fees.
For free advice on the law without obligation from a dog bite lawyer just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices and a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America will telephone you immediately to discuss your compensation claim.
Facts & Figures
- There are over 60 million in the United States.
- 40% of US households own one.
- There are almost 5 million bite victims in the USA annually.
- 1,000 people need treatment in hospital emergency rooms every day.
- About 20 people die from wounds every year.
- An American has a one in 50 chance of being bitten each year.
- Victims in the U.S. suffer over $1 billion in monetary losses every year.
- One in three homeowner insurance claims pertains to a bite.
- The average insurance payout is $12,000 and the total paid out by insurers exceeds $300 million in bite liability claims every year.
- The breeds at highest risk of biting are Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Chows, Great Danes, St. Bernards and Akitas.
Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs
Should I report that I’ve been bitten or attacked?
- Any attack requiring medical treatment should be reported to the local animal control center or police department as soon as possible and a note should be kept of the circumstances of the attack together with the date and details of the person to whom it was reported. You should also contact an experienced dog bite lawyer for legal advice about your dog bite case at the first possible opportunity to ensure that evidence is preserved.
Should I take photographs?
- Take 35mm (not digital) photographs of any injuries and of the accident location. Photographs of the injury should be taken at intervals as the healing process progresses to document the history of the recovery.
Does it matter where the injury occurred?
- The location of the attack is important as the law varies from state to state and even from town to town within a state. In a dog bite case the owner may be held responsible if the bite occurs on public property or on private property.
How long will the claim take?
- The main restraining factor in regards to the time that a claim takes to settle relates to the time taken for recovery from the physical injury to take place. Dog bite lawyers do not like settling early as they would have to take a risk that full compensation is not obtained if the client does not recover in accordance with the period predicted in the medical reports. Once the medical situation is clear the time for settlement depends on whether or not legal liability is admitted. Less than 2% of cases go to trial and the majority of cases settle within months of resolution of the medical evidence. Generally a dog bite case takes about a year to resolve but they are often be settled earlier.
What is the leash law?
- Leash law is usually a separate law enacted in local communities requiring owners to restrain and control their animals not necessarily by use of a lead. Failure to adhere to these rules can make the owner effectively strictly liable for any injury.
What is the average amount of the settlement?
- The insurance industry maintains that the average settlement exceeds $12,000.
Which breed is most likely to bite?
- Over 30 breeds are known to have caused fatalities however statistically the most dangerous are pit bull terriers, rottweilers, german shepherds, huskies, alaskan malamutes, doberman pinschers, chows, great danes, st. bernards and akitas.