Taking care of one's family, especially in an economy that's still recovering, can often prove to be a difficult task. Sadly, this task can be made even more harrowing if unexpected financial burdens suddenly arise. Many people learn this harsh lesson when bitten by a dog. While canines are meant to be "man's best friend," there are still around 4.5 million dog bite victims in America every single year. In these instances, it's important to understand exactly who is responsible for the attack, and once this is done, it may just be possible to ensure that the bite doesn't lead to a financial burden.
Who is Responsible?
The most important thing to note about dog bite liability is the fact that dog bite laws will always vary by state. In fact, this is true of just about any law that's ever been passed in America. Some states will immediately consider the dog owner to be negligent in the event. In other states, however, there is something known as the 'one bite rule' that could negate the owner from being held responsible if their dog has never shown any violent tendencies before.
This isn't to say, though, that a person can't recover financial compensation with the right legal representation. It should also be noted that there are instances, even in states that immediately hold dog owners responsible, where they may not be held legally liable for injuries sustained by a dog bite. If a person was bitten while taunting an animal, for instance, the courts will likely throw out any case they file. In the majority of cases, however, a dog owner whose negligence leads to a dog attack, such as not having their animal on a leash, will be held financially liable for at least the medical bills related to the bite.
When Dog Owners Won't Pay
Luckily, many homeowners have insurance policies that will pay for the medical bills of people who have been attacked by their dogs. When they don't have these policies, or refuse to take responsibility for their dog's actions, the whole situation can become much more difficult to handle. When this does occur, however, a person should immediately seek out a lawyer.
Personal injury attorneys who have previously dealt with dog bite cases have the experience that's vital in these cases. One Pasadena personal injury lawyer, Pius Joseph, states "Personal injury does not mean just injury to the body, but it also means injury to the person's state of mind and feelings". They understand a state's specific laws related to dog bites. Additionally, they understand just how much a victim should be seeking in compensation, and they'll know how much in general damages, such as pain and suffering, should be sought. When an attorney becomes involved, it gets much more difficult for a homeowner's insurer to try to dodge a fair settlement.
There are a variety of ways that a person can keep safe when it comes to overly aggressive canines. First and foremost, it's imperative to immediately seek out medical attention following a dog bite, and this is the case even if the injury isn't too severe. In a recent case, a man was bitten by a pit bull and then refused treatment when police arrived. Sadly, this can lead to a serious infection, and if the individual later tried to sue the dog's owner, it could be more difficult to receive compensation based on this fact. In these instances, a person's only chance of fair compensation will likely be speaking with an attorney.
Even more importantly, however, is avoiding a dog bite altogether. It's first important to recognize aggressive behaviors, such as stiff tails, tensed bodies, furrowed brows or pulled back ears, as dangerous warning signs. If any of these or other aggressive behaviors are occurring, it's imperative for a person to stay motionless, avoid eye contact and keep their hands at their sides. If the dog does make a move, a person can "feed" their bike, purse, jacket or anything else they have on them to the dog in an effort to make the animal back off.
Being bitten by a dog can be both physically and psychologically damaging, but it doesn't have to prove financially ruinous. For those who take the appropriate proactive steps after they or a loved one experience an attack, it is possible to quickly get back on with their lives. Just as Pasadena personal injury lawyer, Pius Joseph stated above, the aftermath will undoubtedly be difficult, but it is in no way impossible with a strong mental fortitude.