What is the Average Dog Bite Settlement Worth?
Were you out for a walk, and out of nowhere, a dog jumped out and bit you? Now you're left with expensive medical care costs and the emotional pain of a dog attack.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States every year. Unfortunately, a dog will bite one in five people at some point in their life.
And while many of these bites may seem harmless, they can result in serious injuries that require hospitalization and surgery.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys have represented dog bite victims for over a decade. So, we know how devastating dog bite injuries can be. That's why we do everything in our power to get victims the compensation they deserve.
Dog owners are legally liable for the actions of their animals, so you may be eligible to recover damages to help cover these costs.
While settlements for dog bite cases are unique to the individual and can vary, our experienced dog bite attorney will work tirelessly on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation possible.
National Dog Bite Statistics
In the United States, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in five of these victims requires medical attention. Half of the victims require some form of treatment, while a small percentage need hospitalization.
Dog Bites Can Cause Serious Injuries
Dog attacks can result in serious injury to any part of the body. The CDC reports that most bites occur on the upper half of the body, including:
- Head (22%)
- Neck and back (14%)
- Face (13%)
The most common dog bite injuries are puncture wounds, bruising, lacerations, and abrasions. Not only are these injuries painful, but they can also become infected and could involve a risk of rabies. The CDC reports that 1 in 5 people bitten by a dog contract the rabies virus before receiving treatment.
Common Dog Bites Injuries & Their Symptoms
The severity of an injury will dictate how much compensation someone receives due to being bitten. The amount will also depend on the location of the bite, how severe it is, and whether or not there are any long-term effects.
It is essential to note the type of injury that a person suffers from being bitten by a dog. Not only does this influence the amount of compensation, but it also impacts how fast recovery takes place.
The symptoms associated with bites from a dog depend on the location of the bite and the severity of the injury. The symptoms range from mild to very serious.
- Abrasion: The skin is scraped, but it will not be broken or penetrated by the animal. There is usually slight bleeding, but not much because the injury does not cut into deeper tissue.
- Lacerations: This type of injury occurs when the dog's teeth penetrate the skin and cause damage to subcutaneous tissues. The wound may be small, but it can also be large because of how far it penetrates the skin. There may be traumatic bleeding with this type of injury.
- Contusion: Often referred to as a bruise, this is a personal injury that usually only occurs in children who are bitten because they are too small to fight off the dog. The bite pressure is not strong enough to penetrate muscle tissue, but it can cause significant pain and bruise to the subcutaneous tissue.
- Puncture: The most severe form of a bite injury, this type of wound is deep and penetrates down to the bone. It causes significant bleeding because it is very deep. Depending on the puncture location, there may also be damage to the surrounding tissues and organs if the teeth perforate them.
The most common location for a bite injury is the arm. It does not mean that a person is more likely to suffer a bite on their arm; it just means that this is where they are most likely to be bitten if they are bitten at all. The other common locations for injuries from a dog's teeth include the face, leg, and buttocks.
A dog attack generally does not result in a serious personal injury beyond the actual punctures or tears from its teeth. However, depending on the location of the bite and how the victim was hurt, a person may suffer a more severe injury.
For example, if a dog or an animal bites a person on their arm near an artery or vein, they may suffer significant blood loss.
What Are the Chances of a Dog Bite Injury Being Severe?
Several factors influence how severe a bite injury will be. These include the age of the person bitten, their size compared to the dog's size, and whether or not they have any health problems.
It is essential to be aware of the circumstances that often lead to a bite and the injuries common in such dog attacks as a dog owner.
According to veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin, several factors can increase the chance or severity of a bite or animal attack:
- Biting while protecting property
- Biting due to a previously established aggressive behavior of biting people or other animals
- Biting because the dog is fearful or anxious
- Medical Issues – Dogs with medical records such as endocrine disease, skin infections, and dental problems are more likely to bite
- Dogs with a history of biting are most at risk for future attacks, but any dog can bite under stressful conditions
The younger a person is when a dog bites them; the more serious their injuries are. It is because a child's bones, muscles, and tissues are more fragile than an adult's.
Other Factors Can Include:
The physical size can influence how much damage they will suffer from a bite. Although the strength of the jaw muscles is not related to size, other factors lead to how hard dogs bite, including their body weight and the shape of their teeth.
A breed with short, wide-set muzzle muscles is more likely to bite with a large amount of force than one with longer muzzle muscles and leaner heads. As a result, injuries caused by dogs such as boxers and pit bulls are significant because they tend to exert maximum power when they bite.
Health problems can also influence the severity of a bite injury. For example, if an older person is bitten, they are more likely to have complications from the injury because their immune system does not work as well as a younger person's.
State Liability Law
There are two distinct categories of bite liability laws. The first category includes the fifteen states that follow the rule of "strict liability," and the second consists of the thirty-five states that follow the "one bite rule."
The strict liability rule requires that a dog owner be liable for any bite injury, even if the injury occurred on the dog’s owner’s property or if the victim was trespassing.
The "one bite rule" rule only requires that the dog owner is not liable for a first-time bite incident. It means that the liability of an owner depends upon whether or not their dog has ever bitten someone before. For example, if the dog has never bitten anyone and the victim was trespassing, the dog owner is not liable for any injuries that may occur in a future incident.
Under strict liability laws, regardless of where the injury occurred or whether or not the victim was trespassing, an owner must pay compensation for all medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and other expenses for personal injury-related expenses.
In addition, strict liability laws do not depend upon whether or not the dog had bitten someone before or where the incident occurred.
Chicago Dog Bite Laws: What You Need to Know
The one-bite rule or strict liability statute of the Illinois Animal Control Act states that if a person is bitten, they are considered to have been attacked, regardless of the circumstances.
As part of the Chicago Municipal Code, dogs are prohibited from running at large. If they violate the code, they can be found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony.
Dog owners must also provide adequate food, water, shelter, and exercise for their pets. Dog owners are also encouraged to be familiar with their local and state dog bite laws.
They could also be ordered to pay fines and even imprisonment for such offenses as:
- Failing to register a dangerous animal
- Leaving a dog unattended and without food, water, or a suitable place to live
- Allowing a dog to run at large or interfere with anyone on public property
In addition to the above, owners of dogs that have bitten someone must also provide information about their pet's vaccination record. To be compensated for their injuries caused by a bite, victims do not have to prove that the owner was negligent.
However, they must meet all the state's other requirements to file a dog bite claim through an experienced attorney.
Average Settlement Amounts for Chicago Residents in Dog Bite Claims
The average dog bite settlement can vary depending on the severity of the injuries. However, according to a report, the average dog bite payout is $30,000.
This figure takes into account both physical damages and emotional pain and suffering. While some cases may settle for less or more, this figure is often typical for Chicago residents.
Individuals can also receive additional compensation for medical bills, loss of wages, and other expenses related to the injuries caused by a dog bite.
Dog Bite Liability and Homeowners Insurance
Statistics show that someone suffers a bite every 75 seconds in the United States. If you own a dog, insurance can protect you from having to pay damages if your dog attacks someone. The dog owner's insurance coverage may influence how much compensation you receive.
According to the Insurance Information Institute data, the average dog bite liability personal injury claim is $29,397, and 75% of these claims do not involve serious injuries. In addition, most dog owners are required to have homeowners' or renters' insurance coverage that protects their assets in a dog bite lawsuit.
Comprehensive renters' insurance policies offer liability coverage to protect you if you are sued for injuries or property damage your pet causes to someone else. An insurance claim is sent to the insurance company, which investigates and determines how much they will reimburse the victim.
Dog bite statistics show that over half of all cases are settled out of court. The plaintiffs will often sue for pain and suffering when the dog owner does not have insurance coverage.
Dog Bites in Illinois: What to Expect
In Illinois, bites from a dog can result in significant financial losses. Therefore, like most personal injury cases in Illinois (such as automobile accidents), dog attacks are assessed based on economic and non-economic damages to compensate the victim for their losses.
Medical bills cover the medical treatment costs of a personal injury. It can include surgery, lost wages from missing time at work to recover, physical therapy, medication, etc. Attach all medical records, doctor’s reports, and any other documents related to the injury to file a claim.
Pain and Suffering
A dog bite victim may be compensated for their pain and suffering due to the incident. The amount varies based on the specific facts of each dog bite case. Some injuries are worse than others, and the more severe the injuries, the more compensation a victim, might receive.
An individual might experience emotional trauma if they witness an injury or go through any other type of trauma. It includes emotional pain and suffering, anxiety, fear, humiliation/embarrassment, etc. For example, a child who witnesses a friend being attacked by a dog might experience emotional distress from the incident.
If a victim cannot work, they might have to take time off from their job to recover. If this is the case, the victim can be compensated for their loss of income or future potential income.
It is another form of non-economic damage. Mental anguish can be difficult to assess because it's mostly based on the subjective opinion of the jury or judge in a dog bite case. For example, if a dog attack causes severe mental stress, anxiety, depression, etc. In that case, the dog bite victim might be able to recover from these losses in addition to their medical records, bills, pain, and suffering.
This additional cost relates to the victim's legal fees and rehabilitation after a personal injury. Rehabilitation can include anything from physical therapy to psychological counseling, depending on the injuries sustained during a dog attack.
If a property was damaged during the incident, for example, if someone's dog has bitten their friend and caused damage to their clothing, then the victim may be awarded damages for that loss.
Medical Expenses Not Covered by Insurance
According to the insurance information institute (III), dog bite claims are the highest medical expense liability claim. It means that the victim's insurance may not cover all their hospital bills, lost wages, etc. Thus, they may recover additional money beyond their regular compensation.
Hiring a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney to Maximize the Value of Your Dog Bite Claim
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has experience in representing victims of bites from a dog. We had helped clients obtain substantial awards for their injuries, mainly when they occurred because of the negligence of another party.
Our law firm has a qualified legal team experienced in dealing with insurance companies trying to take advantage of our clients by low-balling their claims or denying them altogether.
Our personal injury lawyer is prepared to stand up to the insurance companies trying to take advantage of our clients.
We will work closely with you or a family member, educate you about the legal process, and get you the justice you deserve for a dog bite injury claim.
All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship. Call us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation.