Author: Mitch Grissim, Esq.
Dog attacks are on the rise across the nation, as we become more welcoming of people bringing pets into public places. Recently, a South Carolina woman was charged with second-degree assault after she allowed her three aggressive dogs to attack a deputy. The officer in question suffered bites on his arms and legs, requiring stitches.
The deputy, in self-defense, shot one of the dogs. This all occurred after the dogs’ owner was specifically asked to restrain and confine the animals, but instead, let them out. The worst part is that the complaint of disturbance the deputies were called to investigate was otherwise unfounded. It resulted in the dog owner facing up to three years in prison if convicted.
It may also be possible for the deputies, if they choose, to pursue a personal injury case against the woman. Let’s learn about how dog bite cases proceed, why they’re different from criminal cases, and how a dog bite attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Dog Bite Cases
People are responsible for the behavior of their pets under the law. When a dog bite causes someone harm, they are liable for that harm. There are two types of cases that can result from a dog injuring a person. The first is the criminal case, like that described above. The dog owner can be charged and convicted of a crime that can carry jail sentences and criminal fines, as well as, potentially, the dog being put down if it’s deemed a dangerous animal.
These cases protect the public, but they rarely benefit the victims in any way. This is where the other kind of case arises: a civil, or personal injury case. In a personal injury case, the focus is on monetary compensation for injuries suffered. Civil cases proceed separately from criminal cases; the two have nothing to do with one another.
Compensation for Dog Bites
If you’ve been injured by an aggressive dog, you can be entitled to a range of compensatory damages. These include, obviously, coverage for all of your medical bills. Your compensation will cover medication, doctor’s visits, medical procedures, even transportation to and from appointments.
You can also get damages for emotional trauma, loss of relationships, damage to your quality of life and other subjective injuries. You can collect for lost wages and lost future compensation if you aren’t able to work anymore. Of course, it’s rarely easy to collect these damages.
Negotiating a Dog Bite Case
Most dog bite cases don’t see the inside of a courtroom; they are instead negotiated between the two sides of the case. This can actually be to your advantage, as when a case goes to court, it’s often an all-or-nothing deal. In addition, you’ll have to pay a lot more in court costs and legal fees if the case goes to trial.
The process begins when you determine the value of your case and issue a demand letter requesting the maximum amount you think it’s worth. The insurance adjuster for the defendant will then get back to you and poke holes in your claim, sometimes following up with a lowball offer in response. You will respond to their accusations and make a counter-offer. The process goes back and forth until, ideally, an agreement is reached.
What an Adjuster Will Claim
The insurance company is in the business of making money. This means they will go to extremes to avoid paying out your claim. This can include starting by claiming the accident isn’t actually covered by the insurance policy. They might claim that you’re actually at fault for the accident, and in South Carolina, contributory negligence states that if they can show you’re more than 50% liable, you won’t be able to collect.
They might also claim that you don’t need or haven’t had the degree of medical treatment you claim. Finally, and among the most common claims they’ll make, is that you’re not that badly hurt. In fact, they might claim you’re not hurt at all.
Fighting Back with a Dog Bite Attorney
The insurance company has an army of powerful attorneys in their corner. This means they’ve got people who know the law and know how to challenge your claim. In order to get the compensation you deserve, you need a dog bite attorney who will fight for your rights, and who will remind everyone exactly who the victim was. If you want the best shot at getting compensated for your South Carolina injury, call Harris and Graves for a free consultation.