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What Compensation Can I Recover After a Dog Bite?

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An aggressive dog threatens to bite.It depends on your injuries and other damages. A dog bite or attack can cause not only physical pain and suffering but also serious financial losses. Georgia ranks 14th in the nation for the highest cost of dog bite claims, with an average cost of $47,968.24 per claim. For the year 2019, just under 500 dog bite insurance claims were filed in the state. It’s also likely that more people were injured by a dog attack but did not file a claim. Please keep in mind that your claim could be worth considerably more or less than this “average” number based on the details of your injury.

Why are dog attacks so expensive? A dog’s powerful jaws and sharp teeth can severely damage human flesh and, in some cases, even cause broken bones. Even with good medical insurance, out-of-pocket costs can be high, especially if you need repeated doctor visits to treat a wound, remove stitches, or consult a plastic surgeon about scarring and other issues from the wound. Some patients may also suffer nerve or soft tissue damage or other injuries that cause chronic pain, while people who suffer a broken bone in the attack may require months of physical therapy.

Additionally, there is a high risk of infection after a dog bite, as dogs’ mouths may carry numerous bacteria and other pathogens. One example is Capnocytophaga, an infection most common after a dog or cat bite. It can cause high fevers and flu-like symptoms but may also spread to other parts of the body. In severe cases, patients may have sepsis, gangrene, or heart or kidney complications, and amputation may be necessary, leaving the patient with a permanent disability. Capnocytophaga is only one possible infection that can occur after an animal bite.

What Should You Look for When Seeking Dog Bite Compensation?

We recommend consulting a Georgia animal attack attorney to help you assess your damages and ascertain what your claim is worth. Do not take the insurance company’s word for it – many insurance carriers’ offers fail to include all your damages. Dog bite victims may also overlook expenses they don’t realize should be part of their compensation, which is why speaking with an experienced dog bite lawyer is crucial. We can help make sure all your damages are covered.

Here are the three categories of damages that we’ll discuss with you:

Economic Damages

Often these are the damages people think about first because they have received a bill or know the exact cost. Economic damages may include:

  • Medical bills, both current and future. Your lawyer will help you estimate future care costs if you’re still in treatment or have ongoing problems. They will also ask about associated medical costs, such as prescription copays at the pharmacy, purchasing wound care supplies, buying mobility aids if you have a broken bone, etc. It’s easy to forget these expenses when calculating damages, but they still cost you money!
  • Mental health services. Dog attacks are frequently traumatic, and many people experience anxiety, depression, or symptoms of PTSD afterward. If you’re feeling on edge or anxious after a dog attack, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with a mental health specialist. Counseling and sometimes medication can be beneficial in dealing with the effects of a dog attack, and you should be able to get this care without worrying about the financial burden.
  • Additional expenses beyond medical care. Sometimes dog attack victims overlook costs like childcare or household help if they cannot do their usual activities following a dog bite. For example, if a dog bit your foot and you can’t walk for a few weeks,  you may need to hire someone to clean your home or help care for your young children. These expenses should also be included in your compensation.
  • Loss of income or reduced earning capacity. If you had to take time off work following your injury, you’re entitled to compensation for that lost income, even if you had paid time off. If you used PTO or paid sick days, that is still money you could have used at another time, such as a planned vacation. Similarly, if you can no longer work in the same job due to a permanent disability or disfigurement, you deserve compensation for your reduced earning capacity.

Non-Economic Damages

There are also damages that don’t come with a specific dollar amount but still negatively impact your life – these are often referred to as “pain and suffering.” Pain and suffering can include physical, emotional, or mental suffering after the accident. It can also encompass loss of relationships or society if your injuries have caused your social life to suffer somehow. For example, people with PTSD might have difficulty doing the same activities as before or continuing relationships.

Your attorney will ask about your non-economic damages and ensure these are included when requesting compensation from the insurance company.

Punitive Damages

Most dog bite cases – and, in fact, most personal injury cases – will not involve punitive damages, but it is possible they will be awarded by a jury if your case goes to trial. Punitive damages have nothing to do with the injured party’s economic or non-economic losses but are awarded to the injured person to punish the defendant further (in dog bite cases, the defendant is usually the dog’s owner). These damages are only awarded in extreme cases where the defendant’s behavior is not merely negligent but also particularly reckless or atrocious. For example, if the defendant owned a dog known to be vicious after biting several other people, and the owner regularly allowed it to roam the streets without supervision or a leash, punitive damages might be possible. However, most cases only involve economic and non-economic damages.

Do You Need to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit to Receive Compensation for Your Damages?

Not always. In some situations, we can work out a settlement with the dog owner’s insurance company. However, filing a lawsuit could be necessary if no insurance is available or the insurance carrier refuses to pay a claim that should be covered. Even after filing the lawsuit, we may still be able to settle the case out of court. There are multiple hearings and exchanges of evidence during the discovery process, all of which occur before a trial. During this time, it’s possible to negotiate a settlement, and sometimes the other party is more willing to do so after seeing the evidence we’ve collected to present at trial. In a small number of cases, the other party simply won’t agree to a fair amount and we will fight for your rights in court.

How Can You Get Help From a Dog Bite Lawyer?

A dog bite or attack can leave you in physical and emotional pain. We know how difficult this situation can be and are ready to help you get the compensation you need. The CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm offers free consultations for dog bites or other personal injury cases. There is no obligation and no reason not to call and learn your options. If we take your case,  you won’t be charged anything until we win or settle it, so you don’t have to worry about paying upfront for a lawyer.

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