Did you know you’re just as likely to be bitten by a dog as being involved in a car crash? According to Canine Journal, 1 out of every 73 people in the United States will be bitten by a dog at some point. Compare this statistic to the 1 in 63 odds of being involved in a car crash, and, surprisingly, this issue doesn’t get more media attention.
Roughly 20% of dog bites result in injuries, and dog bite victims may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and other damages. Contact Wood Injury Law for a free consultation. The Personal injury attorneys at Wood Injury Law will discuss the situation that led to the dog bite and help determine appropriate next steps.
Are There Any Laws About Dog Bites?
Each state has different laws about dog bites, but they typically fall into one of two categories:
- “One bite rule,” or
- Strict liability.
Before the 20th century, a dog owner was typically only responsible for harm caused by their pet if they reasonably expected that the animal would bite. The “one bite” rule was so-called because it generally implied that a dog could have “one free bite” before its owner was subject to legal repercussions.
In modern times, the one-bite restriction does not always grant a dog a free bite. Let’s say a dog owner knows that a particular breed is dangerous or that a certain dog might bite because of its temperament or for some other reason. If so, they might be responsible for the dog’s initial bite.
The focus is on whether the owner took reasonable precautions and whether they knew or should have known that the dog might bite. In a state with a one bite rule, the dog owner can potentially escape liability if the dog has never bitten anyone and the owner did not know and had no reason to know that the dog posed a threat. New Mexico, for example, has instituted the one bite rule. Despite this supposed loophole, it doesn’t necessarily excuse the dog owner from liability, so make sure you contact a dog bite law firm to learn about your options.
Arizona, however, follows a strict liability standard when it comes to dog bites. Under this standard, it doesn’t matter how sweet the pup is and how responsible the owners are. If a dog bites someone and the victim sustains an injury, the owner is liable for the damages, and a dog bite lawsuit could result. What the owner knew or did not know about the dog prior to the bite is typically irrelevant if a strict liability dog bite statute applies.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Nearly 1,000 persons are treated daily in hospital emergency departments for nonfatal dog bite-related injuries. The most common dog bite injuries include:
- Scratches and abrasions
- Serious puncture wounds and gashes
- Nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
Can You Sue Someone for a Dog Bite Injury?
The short answer is yes, but before you worry about ruining a long-lasting friendship or a friendly rapport with your neighbors, it’s helpful to remember that the dog owner typically won’t pay you out of their own pocket.
Instead, there is almost always an insurance company involved. It could be through a homeowners or renter’s policy or another type of premises or general liability insurance. Therefore, you will file a claim with an insurance company, not chase down a friend or relative and ask them to empty their pockets.
Getting paid by an insurance company instead of your friend offers the best of both worlds. You don’t have to ruin your friendship by suing them, and the relationship won’t be strained by you feeling like you were left high and dry after a dog bite. Seeking a settlement from an insurance company is an effective way to clear the air and salvage a friendship or relationship.
Why Consult a Personal Injuries Attorney for a Dog Bite Claim?
Whether you’re dealing with a catastrophic, life-changing injury or the dog bite you suffered was less severe, there’s the added stress of things not going smoothly between the time you file your claim and get a settlement check.
Because insurance companies are singularly focused on profits, they will not be overly enthusiastic about writing you a check that fairly reflects your damages. In fact, they may look for reasons to deny your claim altogether. The insurance company could argue the following:
- You were trespassing. If you were unlawfully on the property, the insurance company could attempt to avoid liability for your injuries.
- You provoked the dog. If you did something “unreasonable” that caused the dog to attack, the insurance company could try to avoid liability.
- You were negligent or assumed a risk. If you ignored warning signs, verbal warnings, or acted carelessly, your compensation could be reduced.
Even if one or more of the justifications above apply to your case, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t recover financially. A dog bites lawyer will examine your case to get the facts and devise a persuasive argument on your behalf.
Having a dog bite injury attorney on your side during this ordeal is beneficial because your attorney will investigate all aspects of your case and seek maximum compensation for your claim.
Get Help from an Experienced Dog Bite Injury Attorney Serving Arizona and New Mexico
At Wood Injury Law, we have extensive experience dealing with insurance carriers and have a thorough understanding of how to aggressively assert our clients’ rights. We always strive to settle a case without going to court if we can do so while obtaining the maximum compensation for our client, which is often possible. However, we are always willing and fully prepared to go to court to obtain an appropriate award if a reasonable settlement cannot be reached.
Our experienced dog bite injury attorney will work closely with you to explain the options available and ensure that we proceed as you desire. Wood Injury Law helps clients across Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Mesa, Arizona, who have suffered from a dog bite injury. Call us at (623) 232-9355 to discuss your case or fill out our online form. We’re attorneys you’ll swear by, not at!
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.