How Do I Know I Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?
You can, and should, talk to a lawyer if you received a bite from a dog and don’t understand what to do next. Reputable personal injury lawyers provide free case evaluations and advice. Don’t hesitate because you think a consultation will cost money.
Some people only suffer a minor injury, or even no harm, from a dog bite and need no legal assistance. Others choose to go to small claims court with no representation. These are always options, but certain circumstances warrant working with an experienced dog bite lawyer:
- The attack caused moderate or severe injuries.
- You have medical bills because of the bite.
- You have missed time at work because of the incident.
- The victim is your child.
- You have tried to negotiate with the owner for compensation without success.
- The owner’s insurance company has contacted you or offered a settlement.
- The owner is trying to accuse you of negligence in the incident.
What Will a Dog Bite Lawyer Do for Me?
It’s best to seek the advice of a lawyer, even if you never decide to sue. Rather than settle for any lawyer, work with someone who knows personal injury and dog bite cases. These experts can provide the best guidance.
They’ll Clarify Dog Bite Laws
Some states have no dog bite laws, some follow the common law of the “one-bite rule,” and others have strict liability laws. In other words, it can be confusing. A lawyer with experience working on dog bite cases can help you understand your state’s laws regarding dog bites and personal injury. This is essential in making the best decisions going forward.
Law Firms Have Investigative Resources
Especially in states where it is necessary to prove an owner knew their dog could be dangerous, the investigation is an integral part of the legal process. A law firm has more resources, including investigators, researchers, and other experts to help make your case.
A Lawyer Can Maximize Damages
If you settle for the compensation offered by a dog owner’s insurance company or represent yourself in small claims court, you’ll get some money. An experienced lawyer can point out all the damages to which you are entitled, the costs you hadn’t considered. They can also use their experience to negotiate for more damages or litigate in court if it comes to that.
The Right Lawyer Can Defend You
A dog owner or their insurance company may come after you if you charge them with liability for their damages. They may be able to withhold compensation if they can accuse you of being at fault. For instance, trespassing on property or teasing a dog could make you negligent. Your lawyer can defend you and advocate for compensation, no matter what the owner charges.
How to Find a Dog Bite Lawyer
Many people have suffered dog bites. There is a good chance someone you know has been in this situation. Ask around to find out if anyone you trust recommends a personal injury or dog bite lawyer. If you don’t have a referral, begin looking for personal injury law firms. Look for those with specific experience handling dog bite cases as well as these characteristics:
- Referrals from past clients
- Wins for past clients with significant damages recovered
- Experience working with insurance companies to negotiate settlements
- Experience litigating cases in court
- A free consultation or case evaluation
- A contingency payment plan and clarity on fees and payment
- Easy accessibility to answer your questions or meet with you
Working with a Dog Bite Lawyer
As you select a lawyer to help you deal with this situation, make sure you understand how to help them help you. They need as much information, honesty from you, and your cooperation to advocate successfully on your behalf. For your first meeting, bring everything you have related to the incident:
- Your notes and witness notes on what happened
- Contact information for witnesses
- Contact and insurance information from the dog owner
- Photographic evidence of the incident and your injuries
- Your medical records and bills related to the bite
- Any other expenses incurred because of the bite, including lost wages if you could not go to work
- Animal control reports if you have them
Provide all the information, and be honest and open. Ask questions too. A good lawyer will take the time to answer them. You may want to ask about possible damages, how long the case will take, your chances of winning, and payment expectations.
Working with a dog bite lawyer is a first step in getting the justice you deserve after a vicious dog attack. Dog bites are severe and damaging, and it is essential to hold irresponsible owners accountable.