Although dogs are often pretty great pets, at times, they wind up attacking somebody. Dog bites or animal attacks may leave a person severely and permanently harmed, and can occasionally even result in death. Here is what you ought to know about dog bites:
Animal Bites: Who Pays Damages? By FindLaw has information regarding the various types of insurance when someone gets bitten by an animal.
In most instances, an animal owner’s homeowner’s insurance will cover liability arising from dog bites (and injuries caused by other common household pets) that occur on the owner’s property. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were about 16,5000 homeowners insurance claims involving dog bites in 2012. Since this figure only covers dog bites, the total would likely be much higher if other animals were included, such as cats, horses, and reptiles.
Even if a homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover a bite that occurs in a car, such bites might be covered by an owner’s automobile insurance. Often, both automobile insurance and homeowner’s insurance policies will cover an animal bite that occurred in a car (or possibly on a car, if the animal is in the back of a pickup truck). When this happens, both insurance companies will usually argue that the other company is responsible for covering the loss. In most cases, this argument does not involve the injured person, but is a matter for the insurance companies to resolve.
There are specialty insurance companies that provide insurance for pet owners. As noted above, many insurance companies refuse to cover animal-bites after one incident. As a result, the owner of a “repeat offender” pet often has no choice but to look for coverage from an insurance company that specializes in animal coverage.”
Settlement of an Injury Claim on Dog Bite
Each dog bite claim is different, but in general, a dog bite settlement is going to be based on the following: what the lawsuit parties estimate a jury would eventually award the victim or plaintiff following a trial, and whether or not the defendant (dog owner) feels that they have a chance of being found guilty.
Defendant Should Feel There’s Some Possibility of Losing the Case
For the defendant to settle, there should be a few risk of losing the claim at trial. Meaning that the conditions surrounding the animal bite meet the legal requirements in the “dog bite” statute of the state or the case law of the state.
If the state features a strict dog bite law, then it will be quite easy to evaluate whether or not the owner has breached the statute and whether or not the owner will be found guilty. If the state only has a less firm statute or even no statute in the least, then the parties will have to guess at whether or not the plaintiff can convince a jury of whether or not the owner was aware that the dog had an inclination to bite.
If potential monetary damages are high, then it’s relatively apparent that the plaintiff was attacked or bit by the animal, and there aren’t apparent defenses, the defendant will be likely to settle for an amount, mainly if the insurance company of the defendant is defending the case.
And when you want to settle an animal bite claim, AllLaw’s Settlement of a Dog Bite Injury Claim includes details on settling a dog bite injury case, as well as what elements that impact the case’s potential value.
“Defendant Must Feel There is Some Chance of Losing the Case
For a defendant to settle at all, there must be some risk of losing the case at trial. This means that the circumstances surrounding the dog bite satisfy the legal requirements in the state’s “dog bite” statute or the state’s case law.
If the state has a strict dog bite statute, it will be relatively easy to assess whether the owner has violated the statute and whether he or she will be found liable. If the state has a less strict statute, or no statute at all, the parties will need to guess at whether the plaintiff will be able to convince a jury of, for example, whether the owner knew the dog had a tendency to bite. (See this chart for the law in each state).
If potential damages are high, it is relatively clear that the plaintiff was bit by the owner’s dog, and there are no clear defenses, the defendant will be inclined to settle for some amount, particularly if the defendant’s insurance company is defending the lawsuit.”
The Plaintiff Should’ve Suffered Real Damages
Despite the liability of the defendant, the other main question is the losses of the plaintiff due to the dog bite, as well we the amount the plaintiff would get in damages. Estimation of the potential recovery with any level of accuracy is rather hard for one major reason: at trial, it’ll almost certainly be a jury that eventually decides the amount the defendant should pay the victim.
Some damages, such as lost wages and medical bills, are easier to compute and easier to guess for settlement purposes. Though a jury has a choice, if they find the dog owner liable, then they will usually base “concrete” damages such as medical bills on how much the plaintiff shows he or she has settled or will remain to pay.
In negotiating the settlement, both parties possibly have the same predictions and less chance for disagreement on such types of damages.
For subjective damages such as pain and suffering, estimates are always an educated guess according to the awards in the past. As each case and each jury is different, and even the best investigation will still only estimate damages on pain and suffering within an extensive range.
A dog bite that involves puncture wounds, without other special circumstances or complications, will not provide a plaintiff with much leverage in negotiations in terms of damages on pain and suffering.
In cases that involve severe injuries and problems such as physical disfigurement, the subjective damages are possibly very high, and more difficult to pin down. That unlocks the prospect of the attorneys of the plaintiff and defendant putting extremely different values on the claim as well as making settlement that is more complex.
But it may make a much bigger settlement as well, even in claims where liability isn’t wholly clear – the realistic probability of big damages at trial is sufficient to generate some form of settlement in the majority of cases.
If liability is rather clear, and the damages on pain and suffering are possibly high, then the defendant (particularly an insurance agency) will settle for a bigger amount.
If you have been attacked or bitten by an animal, click on the articles above for more information.