When it comes to a dog bite, dog owners usually stick. This means they will have to pay for your medical bills. In exceptional circumstances, the dog’s owner is not required to pay these bills and may not be found responsible.
A dog owner will be held responsible (sometimes referred to as strictly liable) for injuries caused by their dog, but it is their homeowner’s insurance policy that actually pays for your medical expenses or your emergency room visit.
How much can I sue for a dog bite?
Not all dog attack cases result in serious injuries or are associated with high financial losses. Usually, larger cash prizes occur when an animal attacks:
- Leaves visible scars or disfigurements (these cases can include settlements over $ 100,000)
- This results in permanent disability (these cases can involve settlements over $ 200,000)
- Requires emergency medical care
- Requires surgery or advanced medical care
- Findings in the need for mental health therapy that focuses on dog bite victims (such as PTSD counseling)
On average, people can expect around $ 40,000 for a severe but typical dog bite injury, though it all depends on the actual injuries and financial damage. A claim settlement or premium generally reimburses an injury victim for their medical bills, expenses, lost wages and other consequential damages.
If a person receives a bill that includes the reimbursement of medical bills, they may have to repay a health insurance company or pay outstanding medical bills (if any). Most of the money goes towards covering those medical bills.
Dog Bites in Small Claims Court
You can take your claim in small claims court without an attorney – but most counties / states limit small claims court settlements to $ 10,000 or less. If your injury is severe or you think your medical bills will cost more, you should consult a legal advisor when filing a lawsuit.
Remember: The Small Claims Court requires you to prepare, present, and take time off to complete the research and court appointments. For some people, paying a lawyer to handle a dog bite liability case is cheaper in the long run, and a lawyer tends to make more money back for you.
Compensation for “pain and suffering”
Some people may also receive cash for pain and suffering after a severe dog bite. Usually this money (called “compensation”) for pain and suffering depends on:
- The severity of the injury
- The extent to which the recovery and injury disrupted a person’s normal life
There is no standard payment for pain and suffering. An amount of money will be listed on your settlement offer and your personal injury attorney will accept or negotiate the offer. You can always ask for more or say that you will not accept the offer.
Should I sue after a dog bites me?
After being bitten by a dog, you may become so upset you may consider suing just to return to the owner or because you feel the need to take action.
But you should consider the pros and cons of going to court. When deciding to file a lawsuit, consider when to take legal action and whether it is worth your time.
A pet owner’s homeowner or renter insurance provides protection for dog bites, but not everyone has this insurance. If the pet owner responsible for your injuries is uninsured and has no assets, there may be no way to actually get a judgment or get money. However, the decision not to sue for this reason should be carefully weighed with the help of a dog bite attorney.
If you choose not to sue, you may want to reevaluate that decision later. Small injuries can get worse over time or appear weeks later. Either way, it’s a good idea to get a medical assessment of your injury. Then you should speak to a lawyer.
A dog bite attorney is the right person to assess the worth of your dog bite lawsuit. In general, bigger injuries (or more traumatic situations) mean bigger cash settlements.
But be warned, most claims for damages must be made within a year or two, depending on your state’s statute of limitations.