Dog Bite FAQ
Studies show that over 5 million individuals are injured by animal attacks and dog bites every year in the US. Many attacks leave the victims dead or with a severe injury. The data shows that six out of every ten dog bite victims are under twelve years old.
Much like being involved in a car accident, what the victim does after the animal attack can protect their legal rights to ensure they are compensated for their damages if the dog's owner is held legally responsible for their negligence. Our dog bite attorneys have answered some of the many dog bite frequently asked questions below.
- What Happens If Someone Leaves the Scene of an Accident Dog Bite?
- What Do I Do in a Dog Bite Attack?
- If the Dog Bite Accident Happened Out-Of-State, Where Do I File?
- What Is a Severe Dog Bite Injury?
- Who Pays for a Dog Bite Injury from a Police Dog?
- How to Care for Serious Dog Bite Injuries?
- What to Ask the Victim during a Dog Bite Injury Case?
- How Much Is the Maximum Pay Out on a Dog Bite with Liability Homeowner's Insurance Severe Injury Claim?
- How Do Dog Bite Victims Record an Injury?
- What Damages Are Recoverable from an Animal Attack Injury to My Child in Illinois?
- What are Common Injuries involving Dog Bites?
- How Do You Respond to a Low Settlement Dog Bite Offer?
What Happens If Someone Leaves the Scene of an Accident Dog Bite?
Under state statute, filling the scene of a dog bite accident could be a crime. According to the law, if the dog's owner or custodian knew or suspected that their animal bit another person, they must provide the injured person their name, address, phone number, and the pet's name and licensed tag number.
In cases where the dog's owner cannot be identified, victims bitten by a dog face the excruciating pain of rabies injections and the financial burden of treating their injury. A responsible dog owner will provide their insurance coverage policy number to ensure that the injured person is adequately compensated for their injuries.
Typically, a homeowner's policy, business policy, or general liability coverage will be available when filing a personal injury claim for compensation. The victim bitten by a dog should document their injury, including taking pictures and recording exactly where the dog bite occurred.
What Do I Do in a Dog Bite Attack?
Personal injury law firms handle many dog bite cases involving injured victims who want compensation for their painful damages. The dog bite lawyers typically recommend documenting what happened and preserving evidence that can be used against the dog's owner.
Common steps that should be taken following an animal attack include:
- Seek medical attention – Even if you believe your injury is not severe, see a doctor immediately. While you might not suffer a broken bone, excessive bleeding, or deep cuts, call 911 immediately. Only a doctor with the best diagnostic tools can accurately determine the extent of your injuries and the severity of your wound.
- Identify the pet's owner – You may need to contact the police to determine who owns the dog. Law enforcement will need to determine if the dog has a contagious disease like rabies. Animal control can quickly determine if the dog has an identifying microchip and contact the owner for pertinent information.
- File a claim with the dog owner's insurance coverage – typically, homeowners and business owners have some liability coverage for animal attacks, even if the attack did not occur on the property owner's premises.
- Consult a dog bite attorney – A competent dog bite injury lawyer understands tort law and the rules and regulations involving animal control and leash laws in your community. These cases can be highly complicated, and handling the right is required to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
If the Dog Bite Accident Happened Out-Of-State, Where Do I File?
Were you the victim of a dog bite attack that occurred while you were away from home out-of-state? You will need to file a claim in the community where the accident happened. However, you will likely not need to return to the area where the horrific event happened.
Instead, you can hire a dog bite attorney to handle your case on your behalf, including filing a claim, sending a demand letter to the pet owner's insurance carrier, and building the case for negotiating an acceptable settlement to ensure you receive maximum financial compensation.
If you and the defendants (dog owners) cannot reach an acceptable settlement, your lawyer, working on your behalf, can begin building a case to take your lawsuit to trial. If the attack occurred in Illinois, your dog bite attorney will file a claim based on the state's strict liability laws (510 Ill. Comp. Stat., § 5/16).
What Is a Severe Dog Bite Injury?
According to the National Institute of Health, millions of individuals in the United States are bitten by animals every year. Statistically, more children are the victims of dog attacks than adults. Dog attacks have steadily remained the ninth leading cause of non-fatal child injuries since the early 2000s.
Approximately 66% of minors involved in dog attacks are injured on the neck or head. Over 27,000 victims of dog attacks undergo reconstructive procedures.
The dog bite law defines the severity of bite injuries in six classifications, including:
- Class 1 – The dog gave a warning bite, air bite, or snap that did not make skin contact with the injured person
- Class 2 – The dog bit into the victim's skin that did not break
- Class 3 – The dog bites created 1 to 4 shallow puncture wounds in the victim's skin
- Class 4 – The injured person suffered up to four deep puncture wounds with visible gashes, tears, and punctures indicating that the pet's jaws shut tight against the skin while the dog shook its head
- Class 5 – The injured person suffered multiple Level 3 and Level 4 puncture wounds from dog bites in different areas
- Class 6 – The dog bites ended in the victim's death, or the pet consumed the victim's flesh
Who Pays for a Dog Bite Injury from a Police Dog?
Law enforcement specifically trained various dog breeds to fulfill their K-9 units trained to detect illegal contraband and apprehend criminal suspects. However, these dogs are trained to be vicious on command to inflict extreme injuries during a part of their work duties.
Unfortunately, the police can misuse the dog's training and cause severe harm when the animal bites. The dog bite could cause deep tears, crushing wounds, punctures, and avulsions. A dog attack victim usually requires immediate medical attention, reparative and reconstructive surgeries, sutures, and other treatments for an injury that typically leaves permanent scars.
The community government or municipality is responsible for paying any innocent victim harmed by a police department's dog. However, fighting a law enforcement agency or police department can be intimidating. Hiring an attorney who specializes in government dog bite cases can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
These dog bite attorneys typically have adequate resources and access to expert witnesses when pursuing a case against the local or state government. A dog bite lawyer works on a contingency fee basis, meaning they are paid only after obtaining compensation from an eventual win at court or negotiated settlement.
How to Care for Serious Dog Bite Injuries?
Victims of dog attacks must take immediate steps to ensure their wounds do not become infected. If you were injured, visit the emergency room or urgent care center, and follow these practical treatment steps that include:
- Wash the puncture wound, gash, or laceration using warm water and soap
- Do not scrub the wound, but use a clean cloth, pressing gently to stop blood flow from the wound
- Apply antibacterial ointment to the affected area before covering it with a sterile bandage
- Look for any sign of infection in the following days and weeks until the wound heals completely
What to Ask the Victim during a Dog Bite Injury Case?
Any claims adjuster or the defendant's attorneys will need to determine who is at fault for causing the victim's (plaintiff) injury.
Before paying out a negotiated settlement, the insurance carrier or defendants will want answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the dog bite case, which might include:
- Did a dog attack cause the victim's wounds?
- Was it the defendant's dog that bit the plaintiff?
- Did the incident where the plaintiff was bitten by a dog occur as they described?
- Did the injured plaintiff provoke, agitate, or rile the dog into biting them?
How Much Is the Maximum Pay Out on a Dog Bite with Liability Homeowner's Insurance Severe Injury Claim?
The value of a dog attack paid out by a homeowner's liability policy varies significantly between cases, based on the severity of injuries, dog bite law, and other contributing circumstances. Statistics reveal over 17,800 dog bite cases filed in the United States in 2019, totaling over $800 million in negotiated settlements and jury trial verdicts.
The national average of successfully resolved animal attack lawsuits is $43,600. In Illinois, the average was significantly higher, at $48,098. There were 854 dog bite cases in Illinois in 2019, generating over $41 million, involving negotiated settlements and jury awards.
How Do Dog Bite Victims Record an Injury?
Typically, victims of animal attacks will report what happened to an emergency room doctor or urgent care practitioner to document all pertinent details about the horrible situation. Also, the injured person will file a report with the local police department or law enforcement authority, including animal control, that will take steps to prevent a recurrence with the same mental illness involving a different victim.
At some point, the injured plaintiff or their attorney will need to contact the pet's owners to determine if the animal is up to date on their vaccinations, including rabies. You should take photographic evidence of your injury that could be used in a court of law when seeking compensation for your damages.
Were you bitten by a police K-9, service animal, or family dog? Did the dog owners violate the leash law, creating a dangerous situation for you or a loved one?
Consider hiring a personal injury attorney specializing in animal attacks. A lawyer working on your behalf can identify any previous records of the dog's aggression or attacks involving other victims. Your lawyer can file a claim against the dog owner's homeowner's insurance policy, even if attacks did not occur at the pet's home.
What Damages Are Recoverable from an Animal Attack Injury to My Child in Illinois?
According to data managed by homeowner insurance companies, the average animal attack victim in Illinois received over $48,000 on average to resolve their animal attack civil case. Hiring an attorney can help avoid the need to file a Small Claims Court claim that likely limits you to $10,000 in compensation.
Instead, your lawyer can gather evidence and eyewitness contact information, send the demand letter to the pet owner's insurance carrier to initiate a claim, negotiate a settlement, or begin the process of building a case for trial. Your attorney will likely base the case on the dog owner's negligence, providing their dangerous pet access to innocent victims.
Your attorney will ensure that all the necessary paperwork is filed before the statute of limitations expires. In Arizona, victims (plaintiffs) can file a claim within two years of the incident.
During the negotiation process, your attorney will seek compensation for your hospital emergency room visit, doctor office visits, medical treatment expenses, lost wages, lost future earnings, mental anguish, emotional distress, pain, and suffering.
In a highly egregious dog bite case, where the dog's owner refused to take responsibility for protecting the public from their aggressive animal, the jury might award the injured plaintiff punitive damages as a punishment against the dog owner.
What are Common Injuries involving Dog Bites?
Vicious, dangerous dog attacks can leave people with a horrendous injury caused by the animal's teeth piercing through the victim's skin. Typically, contributing factors can determine the extent of the victim's injury, including the breed of the dog (pit bulls, German shepherds, and Akita breeds are extremely dangerous).
The most common severe dog bite injuries involved in animal attacks requiring treatment and surgery in the emergency room include:
- Extensive nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Puncture wounds
- Deep lacerations
- Torn skin
- Post traumatic stress (PTSD)
Not all dangerous dog attacks are alike. Many people with severe animal attack injuries can fully recover, while others require ongoing care for their extensive dog bite wounds.
Some people experienced dog bite complications, where the wound leaves deep scarring tissue that restricts movement in the affected area.
How Do You Respond to a Low Settlement Dog Bite Offer?
The most successful way to respond to a lowball settlement offer is to be prepared for what will likely come. Victims should never be surprised that an insurance claim adjuster will make an initial low settlement offer, hoping the plaintiff (injured party) accepts the offer and goes away.
Usually, the amount offered is often significantly lower than what you, your loved one, or your family needs to overcome their struggling financial burden caused by a dangerous dog bite. You never have to settle for the measly sum the insurance company offered because they thought they assumed you were struggling so much and should take it without fighting back.
- Consider hiring a personal injury attorney to fight the insurance adjuster or the defendant's lawyers to ensure you receive all general, special, and compensatory damages that might include:
- All current and future medical bills from the emergency room to rehabilitation and therapy,
- The cost of replacement or repair of your damage to property,
- The income you lost while you recover or from your current temporary/permanent disability caused by the animal attack,
- All out-of-pocket expenses, including your prescription medications, traveling to doctor's appointments, and use of DME (durable medical equipment), including renting a wheelchair,
- Loss of consortium and companionship from an altered partner/marital relationship,
- Loss of enjoying your life in pursuing hobbies and recreational activities you enjoyed before you were harmed,
- Emotional distress,
- Harmed from posttraumatic stress when around animals or remembering the event,
Do not fall prey to an insurance adjuster citing their "settlement authority" that limits the amount they can offer. Recognize that this is a negotiating tactic used to intimidate you into accepting a lowball offer instead of ensuring you receive your claim's fair value.
In this situation, let dog bite injury lawyers with extensive negotiating skills speak on your behalf, inform the insurance company that their offer is unacceptable, and restate what you are willing to accept as a counteroffer.
If a reasonable compromise cannot be negotiated, the law firm can build the case based on dog bite laws to take the trial.
- Can I Recover Compensation for a Dog Attack Even if it did Not Bite me?
- How Much is my Dog Bite Case Worth?
- What Must I Prove to Win a Dog Bite Injury Case in Illinois?
- When Should I File a Lawsuit if I was Bit by a Dog?
- When Should I Get a Lawyer After I am Bit by a Dog?
- Who Pays for a Settlement in Dog Bite Cases?
- What to Do After a Dog Bite?