Legal Assistance for Dog Bite Victims
Skilled Legal Counsel for Dog Bite Claims
Roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the United States. Although some of these bites are not serious in nature, some bites cause serious physical damage to the victim of the bite. If you have been bitten by a vicious dog and require hospital treatment, surgery, or other medical treatment, you should contact a lawyer.
A dog bite victim can be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering. At LaMarche Safranko Law, we fight to obtain compensation for the full value of your harms and losses.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dog Bite Cases
Our personal injury lawyers provide answers to some important questions below.
Yes. A dog bite victim can be compensated for out of pocket medical expenses, lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering as long as it is shown that the dog had “vicious propensities” and that the owner of the dog knew, or should have known about the dangerousness of the dog. A personal injury attorney can file a claim against the dog owner and will seek money for your damages.
This means the dog must have a habit of acting in a way that endangers people. Examples of a vicious dog include previous attacks, how the animal acts when it is approached, including barking, thrusting and showing its teeth. In New York, mere barking or an isolated straining at a leash would not demonstrate “vicious propensities”.
In order for a lawyer to sue an owner of a dog that bit you, it must be shown that the dog has “vicious propensities”. While a prior bite would demonstrate viciousness, it is not necessary. A dog can still be vicious even without a prior bite. However, there must be some type of behavior by the dog that demonstrates it is vicious.
Not automatically. Just because you were bitten by a Pit Bull, German Shepard or other large dog does not mean you can automatically bring a claim against the owner of the dog. It is still necessary to show that the dog had a history of being vicious and that the owner knew or had reason to know about the dog’s prior dangerous behaviors.
Understandably, the larger or stronger the dog the more serious your injury is likely to be. Therefore, your lawyer will want to know as much detail as possible about the breed and size of the dog that bit you.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you can pursue a claim against the owner of the dangerous dog. If the owner of the dog owns a home or has rental insurance, the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will likely defend the owner of the dog. If it is determined that the owner of the dog knew, or had reason to know the dog was dangerous, the insurance company will pay for your damages through a settlement before trial or by way verdict after a trial. In the case where there is no homeowner’s or rental insurance coverage, or if the damages are worth more than the available homeowner’s or rental insurance coverage, the dog owner can be personally responsible for paying for the injuries.
The value of your claim depends on what type of injuries you sustain. In New York there are 2 types of damages: economic and non-economic. The economic damages include lost earnings, and out of pocket expenses such as medical costs. The non-economic damages are the past and future pain and suffering that result from the injuries you suffered. The value of the economic damages can be quantified, and an actual dollar figure can be determined. On the other hand, the value of your pain and suffering will vary depending on the seriousness of the injury, the type of medical care you need, and how long the suffering lasts.
In New York, you have 3 years from the date of the dog bite to pursue a claim against the owner of a dog that bit you. If the dog is owned by municipality, such as a police dog, a claim must be filed within 90 days of the date of the bite.
If you are injured by a dog bite and hire a personal injury lawyer to bring a claim against the owner of the dog, in most instances it will not cost you any money to hire the lawyer. Rather, the lawyer who represents you regarding your injury claim will work on a “contingency fee” basis. What this means is that if the case is successful, the lawyer will receive 1/3 of the settlement or verdict and you will receive 2/3 of the settlement or verdict. If there are costs to pursue the case, such as costs to obtain medical records, filing fees, expert costs, and/or investigative costs, those costs can also be taken out of the settlement or verdict so you will not have to come up with any money out of pocket.
If you are unfamiliar with the dog that bit you, a request can be made to the town, city or village where the dog resides to see if there are any prior complaints regarding the dog or tickets issued against the dog in the past. Another option is to speak to neighbors of the dog owner to gather information about the history of the dog. Typically, your personal injury lawyer conducts this investigation to determine if there is a basis to pursue a claim.
If the dog that bit me is owned by my family, will they be personally responsible for paying for my injuries?
If you are injured, and if the dog has a history of being vicious, and if the owner of the dog has a liability insurance policy, you can receive compensation from the insurance policy rather than from the dog owner personally. You do not have to go after the personal assets of your relative or the owner of the dog that bit you. You can rely on the money available within the confines of the insurance policy. This is a decision that always remains yours to make, similar to settling a case if an offer is made versus going to trial.
If a dog bites me and I have no insurance, will the dog owner’s insurance pay for my medical expenses?
It depends. If the dog owner has a homeowner’s insurance policy, there may be a medical payments provision in that policy to cover some of your immediate medical expenses. However, if the dog owner’s homeowner’s policy does not have a medical payments provision, your only remedy is to bring a claim against the dog owner. While the dog owner’s homeowner’s liability policy may ultimately pay for your pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses, including medical bills, payment from the liability policy takes much longer to pay out. In the event there is no medical payment policy available, perhaps the best option is to apply for private insurance if you can afford it, or if you can’t afford it, apply for needs based medical insurance such as Medicaid.
Timeline of a Personal Injury Case
- If injured, when ready, contact a personal injury lawyer to determine if a claim can be pursued on your behalf
- Meet with a lawyer to discuss the incident
- Bring medical records or other relevant documents including an accident report if available
- Your lawyer will help you understand the process of a personal injury case
- Follow the doctors’ advice
- Go to all medical appointments
- Report all symptoms to doctors
- Take photos of injuries
- Tell lawyer anytime a new doctor is seen
- Determine how and why the injury occurred
- Speak with witnesses
- Obtain any investigative reports
- Obtain scene, vehicle and product photos, as applicable
- Obtain medical records and bills
- Consider all possible claims and theories of liability against any potential defendant
- Consult with experts
- Communicate and negotiate with the insurance company
- Obtain a settlement or pursue a lawsuit
- File a summons and complaint prior to the statute of limitations
- Serve the legal documents on the defendants
- Prepare and exchange evidence with the other lawyers in the case
- Conduct depositions of all relevant parties (also called EBTs)
- Defense medical examination conducted
- File motions (written applications) to the court if necessary
- Participate in arbitration or mediation if appropriate
- Determine liens if any
- Settle the case or proceed to trial
- You have the right to a trial by jury or by the judge who will act as both judge and jury
- At a trial, the injured person must prove it was more likely than not that the defendant was negligent and caused injuries
- The judge or jury will listen to all the evidence presented and the arguments by the lawyers, apply the facts to the law, and render a decision
Recent Verdicts & Settlements
Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle which went off the road and rolled over, causing him to suffer significant permanent injuries, including skull fracture; fractured mandible requiring surgical placement of plates and screws; facial fractures and lacerations; sternal fracture; spinal fractures; lacerations to spleen, liver and lung; multiple rib and toe fractures; tinnitus and hearing loss; post-traumatic stress disorder; facial scarring and numbness.
Plaintiff suffered two dislocated shoulders and a dislocated elbow after he was struck by a vehicle, which negligently swerved onto the shoulder and into the bike lane.
The infant plaintiff fell from a tractor being operated by a farm employee and was run over by the tractor. The 10-year-old boy suffered a femur fracture requiring surgery, multiple facial fractures requiring surgery, foot and toe fractures and loss of consciousness.
Plaintiff was injured when a fork from a forklift truck fell on top of his left leg, severely fracturing the tibia and fibula, requiring numerous surgeries and resulting in a permanent, partial loss of use of his leg.
Plaintiff, a roofing contractor, suffered a fractured skull, cervical spine fracture and fractured ribs after falling from a roof. The injuries left him with chronic pain and fatigue, limited tolerance for walking, lifting, or carrying and limitations in his hearing and vision.
Plaintiff was an ironworker who was injured when he fell from a ladder, suffering fractures to both elbows resulting in permanent loss of strength and loss of range of motion in both arms. His impairment limited the number and types of employment opportunities and limited his future earning potential.
Plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of negligent monitoring of prescription medication.
Nursing Home Negligence
An 87-year-old man was discharged from a local hospital on the afternoon of his death and returned to his assisted living facility. His health began to deteriorate throughout that evening; a nurse was told to check on him but never did. Facility staff found him unconscious on the floor in his room later that evening; paramedics were unable to revive him. It was claimed that the facility failed to obtain appropriate medical advice, assistance and treatment.
Plaintiff was assaulted outside of a bar in Saratoga and as a result suffered a traumatic brain injury, a fractured skull, brain swelling and brain bleeding, facial contusions and bleeding, as well as lacerations and bruises on his body. He also suffered from short and long term memory deficits and other cognitive deficits.
Plaintiff, a 49-year-old man, was discharged from the hospital with critically low levels of potassium, which precipitated a fatal arrhythmia at home and subsequently caused his death. His family brought a claim against the hospital for medical negligence and wrongful death.
Federal Employers Liability Act/FELA
Plaintiff suffered a significant back injury while working for CSX.
* Prior results do not guarantee future outcomes.
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