How Much Does a Dog Bite Lawsuit Cost?

Jason Hutzler February 10, 2023

A dog bite can cause unexpected pain and suffering and affect your everyday life and ability to meet your responsibilities. When you suffer a dog bite from another party’s dog, you may quickly realize the negative consequences and impacts that an animal bite can have on your life and derail your current and future plans.

You might consider filing a lawsuit after a dog bite, but you may not fully understand your rights under the law. Understandably, you may worry about the costs of filing a dog bite lawsuit and the ramifications on your finances should you decide to take legal action through the dog bites lawyer against the party responsible.

Do You Need to Pay Upfront for a Dog Bite Lawyer?

Dog bites fall under the personal injury area of the law. In most cases, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. When hiring a dog bite lawyer for your case, find a law office that will offer you a free case consultation. During this initial case consult, a law office’s legal team member will discuss the facts of your case and the legal options available to you.

This consultation offers you the opportunity to ask questions relating to your matter and how a lawyer can help you. During this time, a lawyer may also inform you whether they can accept your dog bite claim case.

How Do You Pay to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

You should not need to pay upfront for an initial consultation in a dog bite case or any upfront costs, for that matter. By working on a contingency fee basis, a dog bite lawyer will only receive money for their services if and when they receive compensation for their losses in the case. If you do not recover any money for your dog bite case, an attorney will not pursue compensation for their legal representation of you.

However, if you settle your case or your case goes to trial and reaches a verdict in your favor, you will pay your lawyer for the compensation awarded in the case. Typically, at the time of hiring your attorney for a dog bite claim, you will enter into a contingency fee agreement that will spell out the terms of your representation and the percentage of compensation your lawyer will receive when you reach a successful resolution of your dog bite claim or lawsuit.

What Common Damages Can Arise Following a Dog Bite?

A dog bite from a powerful dog can cause devastating, traumatic, and, in some cases, life-threatening injuries. Dog bites are not minor injuries in most cases. Dog bites account for nearly 800,000 hospital visits each year across the U.S. and, in some cases, can result in death to the victim.

The damages that follow a dog bite can be costly and cause financial pressures to a victim of this unforeseen injury. Beyond the costs to treat and care for the injuries from a dog bite, a victim can suffer significant productivity losses and personal losses because of the injuries.

Medical Damages After a Dog Bite

Dog bites can cause injuries that require emergency medical treatment. Additionally, because of the risks of subsequent infections or the possibility of developing certain diseases such as rabies, anyone that suffers a dog bite, regardless of severity, should visit an emergency room for evaluation and medical care.

Depending on the extent of the injuries and the dog’s vaccination status, a dog bite victim may require surgery, grafts, prophylactic treatment, medications, and physical therapy. Additionally, dog bites can cause damage beyond the breaking of the skin.

Depending on the bite’s force and the dog’s impact on the victim, there could be additional injuries such as broken bones, sprains, TBIs, lacerations, soft tissue injuries, etc.

As part of a dog bite claim, you can seek compensation for all medical-related costs for treating your injuries. In addition to the current costs of your care, you may also include future medical expenses that may become necessary when your injuries are severe or cause long-term complications.

Income Loss Caused By a Dog Bite

As a victim of a dog bite, the injuries that occur from the bite incident may require you to go to the hospital, and in some cases, hospitalization may be necessary. Following emergency treatment, you may need time to heal and recover at home. During this time, if you cannot work or meet the complete demands of your position, you may lose out on income.

Income damages are possible as part of a dog bite injury claim. If your injuries lead to permanent or long-term disabilities, you may also be eligible to seek compensation for future loss of earnings that you may miss out on because of your condition.

Non-Economic Dog Bite Damages

Personal Injury Law Firm for Dog Bite Lawsuit in Phoenix, AZThe losses you incur from a dog bite injury are not all monetary. There are damages very personal to you that can have profound impacts on your life. Non-monetary damages are those losses that cause you significant personal loss but are not easily valued. As part of a dog bite claim, you may be able to seek monetary compensation for the non-economic damages you sustain.

Non-economic losses are most often related to your physical, emotional, or mental pain and anguish. A dog bite injury can cause painful and uncomfortable physical injuries that result in scarring or disfigurement and can also lead you to suffer trauma that continues long after the incident is over. Whether you develop anxiety, PTSD, depression, embarrassment, or other conditions after a dog bite injury and damage, the law may entitle you to pursue compensation for those disturbances in your life.

What Is Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases?

Most U.S. states have passed some form of strict liability laws in place relating to dog bites of innocent victims. The term strict liability indicates that an owner of a dog that bites another person through no provocation is liable for the damages caused by their dog. The victim needn’t prove that the owner of the dog was negligent or that the owner knew the dog was dangerous.

In strict liability states, when a dog bites a victim and causes damage, the owner is, in turn, responsible for those damages. At that point, what you, as the victim, must prove is that it was, in fact, the owner’s dog that caused your damage and the extent of your dog bite losses.

In states that do not adopt strict liability for dog bites, a victim may still need to prove negligence on the part of an owner or knowledge that the owner knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities. States without strict liability laws in place can be more challenging for victims to prove their case, but the laws of negligence still apply in most of these circumstances.

Will You Need to Sue to Get Compensation in Your Dog Bite Case?

While you may think that a lawsuit is your only option for getting compensation for your losses in a dog bite, even that may not be the case. Consult with a lawyer who can guide you on your legal options. In some cases, you may be able to file an insurance claim and settle your case outside of court. In states where strict liability laws apply, it may not be in the interest of an insurance company or liable party to fight a claim when the fault for the injuries to you is apparent.

That is not to say that a lawsuit is not a possibility. Dog bite lawsuits can become necessary or recommended in some instances. When your injuries are severe and damages are in dispute, a court may need to intervene to decide the value of your damages under the law.

Additionally, if an insurance policy won’t cover your damages, you may need to sue the parties responsible personally to cover the difference.

Does Insurance Cover Dog Bite Expenses and Losses?

It may surprise many victims to learn that their dog bite injuries may qualify for coverage under most homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies. When a dog owner has the insurance policies in place, and their animal causes an injury to a victim, the coverage may apply even in some cases when the incident occurs outside the dog owner’s home.

Additionally, depending on the jurisdiction of a dog bite, specific locations require owners of dangerous breeds to carry dog liability insurance in the event the dog causes injury to others. A dog bite injury lawyer can help you determine what insurance policies are in effect at the time of the dog bite injury to you and whether these policies may cover your dog bite related losses.

What Can Affect the Value of a Dog Bite Claim?

Understanding how much your dog bite claim is potentially worth can help you decide how to approach your case and when a settlement may be acceptable to you. The costs of a dog bite will vary depending on several factors and the location where the bite occurs.

The Severity of the Dog Bite

The more severe the injuries, the higher the damages are likely to be in a dog bite case. Dog bite injuries fall into one of six classification levels, beginning with signs of aggression from a dog to the breaking of skin and the most severe injury resulting in death. Experts in dog bites can evaluate your injuries and determine what level of dog bite you sustained. The higher the level of bite, the more serious the injuries and the higher the value of your damages may be.

The Damages Available in Your Jurisdiction

The damages available for recovery as part of a dog bite claim can vary depending on the laws of the jurisdiction where the dog bite happens. While in some cases, you may be able to seek the maximum damages based on your economic and non-economic losses, some jurisdictions may have caps on the damages you can seek depending on the category of the losses. A dog bite lawyer can go over what you can expect as far as damages in your case and what is recoverable in your state.

Long-Term Impacts of a Dog Bite

Even a minor dog bite injury can escalate into a serious matter if complications occur. Developing infections are one of the biggest risks from dog bites that can lead to dangerous infection and sepsis and can become life-threatening.

Additionally, depending on the damage from a dog bite, a victim may develop disabilities or loss of function that may become long-term or permanent and affect their day-to-day way of life. The more impacts that arise from a dog bite, the higher your damages may be in a case.

How Long Can It Take to Resolve a Dog Bite Claim?

Typically, dog bite claims can resolve much quicker than other types of personal injury cases. In states where strict liability laws apply, the question of negligence is not up for dispute which can move the case directly into the stage of calculating damages and negotiations. In most cases, this will lead to a faster resolution in favor of the victim with the help of your lawyer to fight for the maximum compensation possible under the law.

Should You Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer for Your Case?

A top-rated Phoenix personal injury law firm‘s lawyer can make a huge difference in the amount of compensation for a dog bite injury case. With an attorney representing your interests, you can rest assured knowing that all possible damages will be part of your claim filing.

Filing an insurance claim for a dog bite can present many challenges. Having the legal knowledge and experience to file an accurate and complete claim with a dog bite lawyer’s guidance can help you maximize your damages and increase your chance of getting the most compensation possible.