If you have been attacked by a dog, you know that it can be an extremely scary and painful experience. If you suffered injuries in a dog bite incident, you will need immediate medical attention. Serious injuries may require hospitalization, reconstructive surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
When the question arises regarding what your dog bite settlement is worth, the answer really depends on the seriousness of the injuries you suffered and extent of damages you incurred as a result of those injuries. An experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyer can help you better understand the potential value of your dog bite settlement.
What is the Average Value of a California Dog Bite Settlement?
The average settlements in a dog bite case are somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000. If you suffered relatively minor injuries, you may receive less. If the injuries you sustained are relatively minor, you may receive a lower settlement. Insurance companies often attempt to lowball victims in order to make the claim go away. In many cases, insurance companies also attempt to reduce the value of the claim to maximize their own profits. It would be in your best interest to not rush into a settlement with the insurance company before you talk to your dog bite lawyer. This is especially true when you have sustained severe injuries due to a dangerous dog that attacked you.
Once you sign an agreement, you will not be able to receive additional compensation for any other expenses you may incur in the future because of your dog bite injuries. For example, if you find out that you need reconstructive surgery but have already settled with the insurer, you may not be able to seek additional compensation to cover the cost of your surgery. This is why it is imperative to speak with a knowledgeable dog bite lawyer first to understand the value of your dog bite claim.
Dog Bite Settlement Examples: What is the Value of Your Settlement?
There are a number of factors that might affect the value of your dog bite settlement including:
Any visible injuries: If you have visible dog bite injuries such as puncture wounds, bite marks or deep scars, the chances that you can recover substantial compensation as part of your settlement increase exponentially.
Disabilities: Sometimes, injuries sustained in a dog attack may be so devastating that they leave individuals with long-term or even lifelong disabilities. For example, dog attacks could result in loss of limbs, which could leave individuals disabled for life. Those who have suffered such catastrophic injuries are likely to receive a much larger settlement.
Long-term consequences: If you are left with long-term effects as a result of your dog attack, you are likely to receive a larger settlement amount as well. For example, if you have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, you may need additional psychological treatment. Such consequences should be included while negotiating the settlement.
Strict Liability Statute in California
Another factor that could influence the value of the settlement you receive is California's strict liability statute. Under the state's dog bite law, dog owners are held financially responsible for the actions of their pets regardless of whether or not they were aware of their dog's aggressive tendencies.
Dog owners can also be held liable irrespective of whether the attack occurs on public or private property. California's strict liability statute plays a part in settlement negotiations for dog bite cases because it leaves dog owners with no reasonable defense left to use, especially if it is evident that the dog bite occurred unprovoked.
The Role of Insurance in Your Dog Bite Case
Dog owners may have different types of insurance that provide liability coverage in the event of a dog attack. Animal liability coverage protects dog owners if their dog causes injuries or damages to another. In addition to compensating victims for medical bills, this insurance protects dog owners if an injured victim decides to sue them. These animal liability policies will typically cover all dogs regardless of breeds.
The other type of insurance that covers dog bites is renters or homeowner's insurance. Some insurance companies may charge higher premiums to insure breeds that are considered dangerous such as pit bulls and Rottweilers. Regardless of the type of insurance, there is no question that the presence of insurance coverage offers a potentially easier way for injured victims to secure the compensation they need. We wrote an article on how much you can sue for a dog bite claim if you're interested in learning more.
While most dog bite claims are settled out of court, some cases do go to trial. This is why you need an attorney who is a skilled negotiator and a trial lawyer who can take your case to court if necessary.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get a Dog Bite Settlement?
You do not necessarily need the services of a dog bite lawyer to obtain a settlement in your case. However, you will maximize your chances of a larger settlement with an experienced dog bite attorney on your side who can guide and advice you throughout the personal injury negotiation process. Your lawyer can also help gather evidence and prove your claim to maximize your compensation.