Frequently Asked Questions After a Dog Bite Injury

After a dog bite, there’s so many things that might be going through your head. It may have happened to a family member such as one of your children. If there are serious injuries or infections, the victim of the bite might be in the hospital, waiting for medical follow-ups and getting contacting by insurance companies. Its really important to make sure you have the information needed to make the best decisions regarding how to handle the injury from a legal standpoint. As dog bite lawyers, we compiled the most commonly asked questions we receive after a dog bite injury. 

Frequently Asked Questions After a Dog Bite

What should I do immediately after a dog bite incident?

If you are bitten by a dog, stay calm. Then take care of the wound. Clean the bite with soap and warm water for at least ten minutes. Stop the bleeding by using a clean cloth adding antibiotic cream. Wrap the wound with a sterile bandage. Seek medical attention immediately. Report the dog to the local animal control agency or police so that an official record is made. Gather all witness statements and obtain information on the owner of the dog. Schedule an appointment with a personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

Can I sue a dog owner if the dog has no history of aggression?

While every case and every State is different, the general answer is yes. In some states, however, there may be nuances such as the “one bite” rule. Under this rule, the owner of a dog will be strictly liable only if the dog has bitten once before and the history of aggression is critical. The rule requires the owner to know or  should know about the dog’s dangerous or vicious propensities. In essence, the dog gets one free bite before the owner will be responsible for the dog’s attack. Some States do not follow this principle. In other states, the owner of the dog is strictly liable for the first bite. They do not get the benefit of the “one bite” rule.

Is there a time limit for filing a dog bite claim?

Like many personal injury lawsuits, a lawsuit based on a dog bite must be filed within the applicable State’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a time frame set by State law within which a particularly legal claim must be made. Most personal injury cases with the exception of medical malpractice, follow a similar statute of limitations. Depending on what State you are in, this can vary from 1 year to 3 years or more. Every State is different and the facts of the particular case can impact the analysis. For example, certain States may have rules regarding tolling – when the statute of limitations starts – that can impact the technical final date any lawsuit would have to be filed.

What kind of compensation can I expect from a dog bite case?

If you have been bitten by a dog without provocation, once you establish liability, you should be entitled to compensation for past and future medical costs, wage loss, pain and suffering, permanent scarring and loss of enjoyment in life. You will also be able to recover assistance for daily living. In a severe dog attack, punitive damages may be awarded against the owner depending on the State involved. That being said, providing records for all claimed damages is essential to an award of compensation. These damages are usually paid through an insurance settlement or a jury award.

Do I need a lawyer for a dog bite?

There are many reasons you should at least consult with a lawyer after any kind of dog bite incident. If you or your loved one has serious injuries after a dog bite, the involvement of a lawyer representing your best interests is even more important. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers that work to find loopholes or otherwise negotiate the least possible compensation. Having a lawyer on your side documenting the evidence and demanding full compensation can be the difference between fair compensation and an extremely low valuation of your damages. They will take advantage of the victim if the victim is unaware of certain damages available to them or certain facts that make their case more valuable. There is simply no substitute for an experienced injury lawyer on your side.

How much does a dog bite lawyer cost?

Lawyers for dog bite injury cases usually take cases on a contingency fee basis. A standard rate is one-third of any funds recovered if your case settles or if you win at trial. This can be negotiated from firm to firm but usually will involve the contingency fee structure. It’s always important to make sure you understand and put in writing any agreements you have with a lawyer that you hire to represent you in your case.

About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a multi-generational, family owned law firm practicing law in the areas of car accidents, truck accidents, and other personal injury. Our firm practices law in Ohio, Georgia, and Michigan.

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Dennis P. Sawan

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Christopher A. Sawan


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