Of the 4.5 million dog bites reported each year in the United States, more than 20% require medical attention, and dozens of people are killed. If you or a loved one has been attacked or bitten by a dog, Attorney Bryan Garrett can help protect your rights.
Why Contact an Attorney After a Dog Bite?
Dog bites can range from surface wounds to serious injuries that result in broken bones or the need for surgery. Emotional trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are also common.
While children are the most likely to be bitten by a dog, a dog bite can happen to anyone. Though some breeds are known for aggression, any dog may potentially bite for any number of reasons, ranging from teasing and provocation to circumstances that seem completely spontaneous.
A dog bite victim has up to two years from the date of the incident to initiate a suit seeking compensation, so it’s vital to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your injury to ensure that you maintain the legal right to seek compensation.
You may be feeling a wide range of emotions after an attack, and it’s not uncommon to initially be reluctant to file a suit against a friend or neighbor for fear of compromising the relationship. The silver lining is that in most cases, a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers the damages. What this means is that your friend won’t have to pay out-of-pocket to compensate you. Instead, the insurance company is financially responsible for paying your medical bills, lost wages, and other compensation.
Having an attorney on your side is valuable because you will have someone experienced in this field to negotiate on your behalf to seek a fair and appropriate settlement.
Benefits of Hiring a Dog Bite Lawyer
The laws in Oklahoma are clear about when a dog owner is liable for the injuries they cause, but there are still gray areas that can leave an injured victim without recourse. For example, Oklahoma Statute § 42.1 stipulates that the dog owner is liable when the dog bites without provocation.
As you can imagine, the insurance company (or the dog owner if there is no insurance company to negotiate with) will likely fight tooth and nail to prove that the dog was indeed provoked. Proving your version of events could involve:
– Reviewing witness statements and police reports
– Uncovering the existence of past dog bite incidences
– Checking video surveillance
– Acquiring records from animal control
– Gathering additional evidence from photos and medical records
Establishing liability is one of several hurdles in receiving compensation for a dog bite injury. There’s also the unpleasant task of determining the amount of money that the victim should receive.
Naturally, the insurance company will work to minimize this amount to keep their profits intact. The company may attempt to settle for the bare minimum to cover immediate medical expenses and a couple of missed days of work. However, the damages sustained from these injuries could be substantial and require a significant financial award to get your life back to “normal.”
Having an attorney on your side is beneficial because it ensures that no stone is left unturned when negotiating your settlement offer. While you focus on your healing and recovery, your attorney will argue on your behalf for maximum compensation. And, if the issue goes to court, you will already have an attorney who is familiar with the facts of the case to hit the ground running.
What Compensation is Available for Dog Attacks?
The type and amount of money you could be eligible for depends on the circumstances of the incident and the damages you (or a loved one) sustained.
Types of compensation that may be available for your losses include:
– Medical bills
– Lost wages
– Lost future earning capacity
– Personal property damage
– Reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses (driving to appointments, childcare expenses during recovery, etc.)
– Pain and suffering and mental anguish
– Loss of consortium
– Anxiety, depression, and other emotional effects
– Reduction in quality of life
Determining Appropriate Compensation
It can be extremely difficult to assign a dollar figure to an incident that causes extreme physical and emotional damage. This is especially true when the injuries are severe or when the victim is a child.
At Bryan Garrett PLLC, we maintain the utmost compassion while relentlessly fighting for your rights with the insurance company. Whether the liable party is a homeowner or a business owner, we go toe-to-toe in our negotiations when we make our demands.
An insurance company will inevitably work to minimize your injuries and their value, and we pursue the opposite argument. When determining compensation, insurance companies look to the following factors:
– The severity of the injury
– Costs associated with medical treatment and procedures
– Whether you miss work and how long it takes to return
– Whether ongoing medical care is needed
– The degree to which fault can be clearly established
– Whether you will suffer from long-term or lifelong physical or emotional trauma
– The overall life effect of the injury
– The amount of insurance coverage carried by the liable party (and whether the insurance company will pay the expenses)
Every insurance policy is different, and one of the first steps an attorney will take is determining whether an insurance policy exists and what it covers. For example, some policies will cover the renter or homeowner regardless of where the attack occurs. Others restrict coverage to incidents that occur exclusively at the homeowner’s property.
There is also the possibility that an umbrella policy or even an auto insurance policy can cover the damages. Your attorney will investigate all angles when proceeding.
How Much Do Dog Bite Attorneys Cost?
When pursuing legal action, many dog bite injury victims understandably worry about accumulating attorney’s fees. Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys, including Attorney Bryan Garrett, work on a contingency fee basis. This structure allows you to receive legal representation without incurring any upfront costs.
Your attorney only receives payment after you receive a settlement. This arrangement allows you to be represented by an attorney without worrying how to pay the bill.
With more than 15 years of experience as a personal injury attorney serving the citizens of Oklahoma, Bryan Garrett is prepared to represent your best interests. To talk about your case, contact our legal office at (405) 358-2342 for a free consultation.