Each year, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Among these bite victims, about 800,000 require medical care. When a person is bitten by a dog that belongs to someone else, the victim may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
What Is a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer?
A dog bite injury lawyer is a legal professional who represents victims in dog bite-related cases. Dog bite lawyers may assist:
- Victims who are seeking compensation for injuries sustained from a dog bite;
- Dog owners who require representation during a euthanasia hearing for their pet;
- Dog owners that need help dealing with the insurance company following a bite; and
- Dog owners who require assistance with recovering damages after their pet was bitten by another dog.
The Roles & Responsibilities of a Dog Bite Injury Attorney
Dog bites can result in significant medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress. A dog bite injury attorney can often help victims who seek compensation for these damages. An experienced dog bite injury attorney will know the laws and regulations in the victim’s state pertaining to dog bites and will offer guidance on how best to progress with the case. A dog bite injury attorney also knows how to negotiate a settlement to help ensure the best possible outcome based on the unique circumstances of the situation.
Here is a closer look at some top roles and responsibilities of a dog bite injury attorney.
Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit
In New Mexico, the law recognizes a “one bite” rule which dictates that the owner of a dog can only be held liable if the dog has had at least one prior incident in which it aggressively bit someone. However, there are circumstances in which a person may still be held liable regardless of the pet’s history. For example, in New Mexico it is against the law to own a dog that is known to be dangerous or vicious.
If a dog bite injury attorney believes that a bite victim has a case based on local laws, the attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit against the dog owner.
Writing & Sending a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company & the Defendant
It is not uncommon for an adjuster to offer a fast payout to make the claim go away with as little money paid out as possible. However, this is not usually in the best interest of the victim. A dog bite injury lawyer will always look out for their client and demand the compensation that the victim deserves.
A major component of filing a dog bite lawsuit involves writing and sending a demand letter to both the insurance company and defendant. When writing a demand letter, the lawyer will include paramount information to the case, such as the settlement value of the injury claim based on variables like medical bills and wage loss statements. Other compensation may also be added, such as pain and suffering caused by the attack.
Proving the Dog Owner is Liable for Injuries
If a dog injures a person because the owner did not take reasonable care to control the animal, the dog owner could be found legally liable for the injuries sustained. However, it is not always easy to prove negligence.
To potentially win a lawsuit based on negligence, the victim must provide that the dog owner had a duty to take reasonable care to control their pet’s behavior and that the dog owner was negligent by failing to meet this duty. The victim must also prove that the negligence directly or proximately caused the injuries.
Recovering Compensatory Payments from the Dog Owner
Depending on the unique circumstances of the case and the relevant laws, victims of dog bites may be entitled to compensatory payments from the dog owner following a bite that causes injury. The most common types of damages recovered include:
- Medical Bills — This is the most common expense resulting from a dog bite. Medical costs typically include bills for hospital services and doctors fees, as well as physical therapy, medication and if necessary, psychological treatment.
- Pain and Suffering — If mental or emotional suffering occurred due to the dog bite, a victim may be entitled to pay for pain and suffering.
- Lost Income — If a victim is forced to take time off work for a medical diagnosis, treatment or recuperation, they may be entitled to reimbursement for lost income.
- Property Damage — If the dog bite caused property damage, such as broken eyeglasses, the dog owner may be responsible for these costs.
Speak to the Experienced New Mexico Personal Injury Attorneys
Dog bite victims may represent themselves, but this is not always the best option. A dog bite injury attorney has extensive experience and is more likely to retrieve satisfactory compensation. To speak with an experienced New Mexico personal injury attorney, contact Parnall and Adams Law today