Can You Initiate a Lawsuit If the Neighbor's Dog Attacks?

Each year, more than 800,000 Americans are bitten by a dog to such an extent they require medical care. There are certain groups of people, such as children and postal workers, who are especially susceptible to incidents of this type, although it can happen to virtually anyone. It's because of a prevalence of incidents of this nature that not only are there laws that protect owners as well as victims, but there are even attorneys who specialize in handling these types of cases.

Fortunately, this helps those who are victims of dog bites to recover damages that are due to the injuries that are sustained in these incidents. Even with the existence of these laws, there must be an awareness by victims of these provisions and how to benefit from them. Not taking advantage of them can adversely affect a victim's legal rights.

Where do dogs bite?

Most dog bites occur in the home of the owner, but the victim can be a family member, a friend, or a neighbour. Dog bites account for the second-most prevalent form of childhood injury. The breeds of dogs most common in childhood injuries are rottweilers and pit bulls. Fortunately, a Houston personal injury lawyer will most likely be able to help.

Dog bites account for more than 25 percent of all claims against homeowner's insurance policies. As a result of these growing numbers, many insurance carriers have stopped offering coverage for these increasingly expensive claims. In fact, in 2019, more than $1 trillion was paid out for dog bite claims.

Dog Bites, the Aftermath

One of the common situations related to dog bites and their aftermath is the failure of victims to seek immediate medical care. Most experts agree that this is most often caused by a familiarity of the victim with the dog involved in the incident. After all, the reason it was a dog owned by a friend or a neighbour that caused the bite. Surely they couldn't have something dangerous that could be passed on to the victim. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Even if a dog does not carry rabies, which is the most common concern, a bite could still include bacteria that could spread serious infections and affect other parts of the body. A dog bite victim that seeks immediate medical attention is ensuring their health even if there is no open wound involved. Further, by going to an emergency room immediately after a bite takes place, a victim is establishing a link between the dog bite and whatever outcome that might be involved—an important factor if there is a claim involved in the future.

Failure to Report

For many people, a dog bite is a traumatic event. It is so traumatic, in fact, that many victims fail to notify anyone related to the incident. This is a serious mistake beyond the fact that at least the police and animal control should be notified that the incident took place. In many cases, this failure to report is a matter of ignorance. In other cases, it is due to the fact that the dog's owner pleads with the victim not to contact the authorities. Likewise, not wanting to cause a problem for a neighbour or friend, victims will acquiesce to their wishes. Even if a dog's owner offers to pay for any and all medical expenses, the authorities should be contacted in the event the owner reneges on their promise or that what turns out to be a dangerous animal goes unreported.

Not only should a dog bit incident be reported to the authorities for all of the reasons above, but a report should also be filed to ensure that the incident is documented for future use. In some jurisdictions, the law requires that all dog bite incidents be reported. In these cases, an investigation is often conducted to establish who the party is that should be held liable if there is a future legal case.

Reporting to an Insurance Company

Insurance adjusters are highly skilled professionals who are adept at gathering information and evidence of an incident. This includes dog bites. Insurance adjusters are responsible for saving an insurance company as much money as possible regardless of the outcome of a case. As a result, their job is to protect their company as well as their clients.

Gathering Evidence

Whether it is established that a dog bite is serious or not, it is important that evidence of the incident be gathered. This might include photographic evidence of the injury, the dog, the area where the bite took place, and more.

Getting a Lawyer

Many dog bite victims try to settle their cases with a dog owner without involving an attorney. This is a serious mistake, even if the victim wants to work with the dog owner's insurance company. Insurance companies are very experienced at settling with victims for much less than their case is worth. This is where an experienced lawyer can be priceless since they are experienced at going up against insurance companies. And, in cases where a lawyer thinks that an insurance company is attempting to settle for far less than a case is worth, he might advise a client to proceed to trial in an effort to get a larger award.

If a victim decides to seek legal assistance, it is important that they hire a lawyer who has prior experience handling these types of cases. Lawyers like this know the ins and outs of not only the law but also of how well a case will hold up under the scrutiny of the legal system.

All things considered, it is important that victims of dog bites understand what their rights are and what their chances are of recovering an equitable return for their efforts. Laws regarding the protection of victims of dog bites have established excellent precedents. It is up to victims and their loved ones to make sure that those victims are adequately protected.

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