A dog bite settlement generally depends on a couple of vital things:
- the estimation pertaining to how much compensation the jury would plan to give the plaintiff after the trial
- whether the defendant feels that he or she might be found legally responsible.
Every dog bite settlement is unique. The pain and suffering caused to the plaintiff due to the dog bite incident is case-specific. Also, the extent to which the victim can recover back to his or her normal form varies. It is most likely for the respective jury to make the final decision as to what amount of money the defendant needs to pay the injured plaintiff as compensation, at the time of the trial.
It is easier to estimate and subsequently predict certain damages like medical bills and lost wages for settlement purposes. In such cases, there is much lesser scope of disagreement between the plaintiff and the defendant at the time of settlement. The jury has the ultimate say. However, if they find the defendant legally responsible, they will pay heed to the plaintiff’s claims as to how much amount he or she has paid. Based on that, the jury shall decide the expenses for the major damages like the medical bills. Estimations are made based on guesses for subjective and “non-technical” damages like pain, suffering or any kind of emotional loss. Awards in similar dog bite cases also impact such predictions. The prediction on pain and sufferings are highly varied due to the abundance of such cases.
When a dog bite case involves only puncture wounds, it is not likely for the plaintiff to benefit much in settlement negotiations when he stresses on the pain and suffering damages.
The settlement discussion gets a lot more complex when it involves serious injuries leading to physical disfigurement, the emotional damages are also at the peak point and harder to neutralize. The plaintiff and defendant’s party never seem to be at par.
This increases the probability of a higher settlement solely based on the sensible possibility of massive damages.
Nature of pain
The temperament of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff plays a vital role as the deciding factor. The impact of these injuries on the plaintiff’s condition also comes into play. For instance, if the plaintiff is a dance instructor by profession and has received pain in the right leg severely, it is certain that his or her quality of life is impacted. Such a case instantly gets to the jury. The same loss if suffered by home-based blogger, is not held in the same manner. The injuries and the specific case cumulatively determine the compensation.
Other deciding factors
The county where the plaintiff’s suit is filed is important since the residents of that specific county typically form the jury pool. In general, the lawsuit is filed in the county where the defendant lives or where the mishap occurred.
The juries in rural areas provide more monetary compensation for the damages than that of the juries in urban areas. There are exceptions though. The jury might come from a region where residents were sensitive to dog bite injuries to some or larger extent.
In case a jury sympathizes with the plaintiff and demands punitive compensation from the defendant. The plaintiff has to be successful enough get the defendant to agree to a higher settlement number.
If the plaintiff’s attorney has a reputation of holding settlement rather than actually conducting a trial, the defendant that is the insurance company shall be more inclined towards remaining secured at a low settlement proposal. So, it becomes crucial for a plaintiff to confirm through proof that his or her attorney has no such reputation or record.
What to do Immediately After Getting a Dog Bite?
When bitten by an animal, seek medical help as soon as possible. In case not treated within a limited time-frame, an animal bite can turn out to be grave injury, infection or might even be detrimental in case the animal had a disease. After a thorough medical check-up, treatment, and evaluation, you must see an appropriate lawyer with experience in dog bite cases. Only a dog bite attorney can corroborate the validity of your legal claim. He or she shall guide you through the process of getting monetary compensation.
Attorneys generally demand a detailed set of information about the particulars related to your dog bite. If not everything, at least you should be able to provide the exact name and contact number of the dog’s owner. In case you do not have this basic piece of info, you should make efforts to get it from a neighbor or a potential witness. You can further record the contact info of the witness or witnesses.
Other Parties who might be responsible for dog bites
Others than the dog’s owner, here are a few other parties who might be held answerable for the injury:
- Minors’ parents:
When the owner is a minor, the parents might be held responsible.
- Keeper in charge of dog’s custody:
A keeper might be taken for as an owner and can be held responsible for the dog bite.
If he knew that his tenant owns a ferocious dog and that he sets it free occasionally.
- Property Owners:
A property owner can be held responsible for injuries caused by a dog that the property owner permitted onto his property.
Which damages are recoverable?
In such cases, you are generally entitled to compensation for the following:
- Expenses on medical treatment and medicines
- Inefficiency to retain job for a few months or permanent incompetence
- Pain and suffering
- Damage of owned property
The defendant’s intentional or immensely careless conduct justifies an award of punitive damages. For instance, if a dog’s keeper or owner was aware that his dog was very extremely ferocious, yet occasionally set the dog free near a university or school, as a result of which the dog attacked a helpless kid or parent. The punitive damages are well-justified in such a case.