Pet ownership is at an all-time high. In the U.S., more than 60 million families share their home with a dog. But what happens when man’s best friend attacks, inflicting serious trauma on an innocent victim? Approximately 4.5 million individuals suffer dog bites every year, and nearly 20 percent of them require medical care for their injuries.
In addition to the physical and emotional trauma caused by a dog bite, the financial repercussions can be crippling. The average hospital bill for a dog bite accident is a shocking $18,200. Fortunately, dog bite victims have a legal right to receive compensation for their injuries that cover these costs, and often more. If you plan to take legal action against the person responsible for your dog bite injuries, here are some legal mistakes to avoid that will help you maximize your financial recovery:
#1: Failing to seek medical treatment
If your dog bite injury is serious enough to require medical attention, seek it promptly. Failing to visit the doctor or emergency room is a red flag for the insurance company. Without a record of your doctor visit, the insurance adjuster may refuse to believe your injury is bad enough to warrant compensation and try to deny your claim.
#2: Not filing a police report
A dog bite victim should call the proper authorities following the incident. The police report will be important for building your case, and the officer who responds to the scene can record witness statements to strengthen it. A call to your local animal control agency may be required as well.
#3: Failing to document the injuries and incident
Take photos of your dog bite injuries immediately following the accident and over time as the wounds begin to heal. By the time your claim is settled or taken to court months down the road, it will be difficult for others to realize the full extent of your initial trauma. For this reason, it’s also important to write a statement about the incident while the details are fresh in your mind.
#4: Providing a statement to the insurance company
If the person responsible for the dog has homeowner’s insurance, the company will call you to take a recorded statement about the incident. Do not provide one. Insurance adjusters are trained to look for holes in dog bite victims’ stories and will use anything you say to try to reject your claim.
#5: Settling your claim too soon
Don’t let the insurance adjuster know you need the money fast – even if you do. Appearing eager to settle a claim makes it easy for the insurance company to pressure you into accepting a much lower payout than you deserve. The full extent of your injuries and disfigurement may take months or years to become apparent, and any permanent scars will increase the value of your claim.
#6: Not seeking legal representation
Many dog bite victims attempt to settle injury claims on their own. If you do this, the insurance company will certainly take advantage of your limited legal knowledge and pay you as little as possible, if anything at all. A dog bite attorney can negotiate on your behalf and obtain a much higher settlement than you could without legal representation.
Call a San Diego dog bite attorney today. More dog bite accidents occur in California than any other state. While unfortunate, it’s comforting to know that you have a legal right to recover compensation for your injuries. After you seek medical treatment, notify the authorities, and document your injuries, your next call should be to a dog bite attorney who can build your case and help you collect the maximum amount of money for your losses. At the Law Offices of Elliott Kanter, we have an impressive track record of achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients and promise to provide you with the same outstanding service. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.