What Steps Should You Take When Negotiating a Dog Bite Settlement?
Dog bites can happen in a split-second and may leave you with severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment. If you have mounting expenses for your injuries or have been unable to work during your recovery, a dog bite claim against the dog owner’s home insurance can help you regain your financial footing.
But where do you even begin when trying to negotiate this type of claim?
A knowledgeable Wisconsin dog bite lawyer can explain the steps you should take following the attack to help you build a strong case and get the settlement you deserve. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm for further guidance: 608-200-4403.
Get Prompt Medical Care
Seeking immediate medical treatment is key to not only your dog bite claim but also to your health and recovery. Dog bites are notorious for developing infections if not properly treated. Puncture wounds from bites may appear to heal superficially but can harbor bacteria inside if not thoroughly cleaned. Unfortunately, dogs can also carry rabies and other serious diseases. A doctor can evaluate your injuries and provide the best course of treatment, including antibiotics, stitches, skin grafts, and more.
If anyone has called 911, do not refuse treatment. While you may be trying to be cost-conscious, your failure to accept treatment could be used against you during your dog bite claim negotiations to prove that your injuries were not severe. If emergency services were not called, go to urgent care or your family doctor as soon as possible. The official medical record of your injuries provides critical evidence of the harm you’ve suffered. When receiving treatment, be sure to tell the doctor about the circumstances of the incident so the attack is clearly linked to your injuries.
You should inform local animal control authorities about the dog bite. They will contact the owner to get proof of the animal’s rabies vaccination status, which may prevent you from having to undergo painful rabies shots. Animal control can also issue citations for dangerous animal behavior or order the owner to muzzle or confine their dog to prevent further attacks. Your report and the investigation by animal control or the police are more official records of the incident that can be utilized in your negotiations. You may also be able to find out if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or if the owner has been cited for similar issues before.
Collect Supporting Evidence
Owners can be held liable for their dog’s harmful behavior. To reach a reasonable settlement with the owner’s insurance company, you will need strong evidence to support your claim. Essential things you should gather after the incident include:
- Information about the owner: Get the dog owner’s name, address, and contact info.
- Insurance details: Most homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies will cover dog bites, even if the attack occurred away from home. Try to get the dog owner’s insurance policy number and the company’s name. If the person rents, record their landlord’s name and rental insurance info.
- Photos and videos: Images of the animal and the location of the attack can be useful in negotiating your case, particularly if they show that the animal was improperly restrained. You should also take pictures of your injuries right after the attack and during the recovery process to show their extent. Images can be much more convincing than words alone.
- Witness statements: Eyewitnesses can provide corroboration for what occurred. Record the contact information of anyone present at the time of the attack. You should also write down or record your own recollection of the incident soon after it happened to make certain you don’t forget any key details.
- Clothing and other physical evidence: While throwing away your bloody clothing from the attack may seem logical, you could actually be harming your case. Preserve your clothes and other evidence until after you’ve reached a settlement.
Keep Good Records of Your Expenses
A full and fair dog bite settlement should include compensation for all the economic and non-economic losses you’ve experienced due to your injuries, including:
- Medical bills, including surgeries, medications, mobility aids, and follow-up appointments
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish, including PTSD, phobias, and anxiety caused by the attack
Keep thorough records of all expenses and bills related to your injuries to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Although non-economic losses like pain and suffering are much less tangible, you can support your claims by keeping a diary of your experiences with your injuries and how they are impacting you on a day-to-day basis. Good record-keeping will allow you or your lawyer to properly calculate a settlement amount for your claim.
Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Owner for Legal Guidance
Even if you follow all these steps, it can be challenging to negotiate a dog bite settlement on your own. Insurance adjusters are not on your side, and they will be actively looking for statements or evidence that could discredit your claim or lessen your settlement amount. To ensure that you do not say anything that could harm your case and to provide yourself with the best possible chance of a full settlement, you should contact a skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
At Pemberton Personal Injury Law Firm, our lawyers are experienced negotiators who can investigate your case, deal with the insurance company, and make certain you get the maximum compensation for your dog bite injuries. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with a helpful Wisconsin dog bite attorney and learn about your legal options: 608-200-4403.