Injuries caused by pets are covered by most homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies. The insurance company may offer to settle your claim if you have been bitten by a dog belonging to somebody else.
The settlement offer will not exceed the limits of the insurance policy. In reality, the insurer will probably offer less than your claim is worth.
Working with a Raleigh dog bite lawyer is the best way to maximize your compensation. Attorneys at the Whitley Law Firm can review your case for free and represent you effectively in negotiations with the insurance company.
What Will Insurance Cover in the Aftermath of a Dog Bite?
You may be entitled to compensation for a wide range of losses associated with the dog bite. Whether the owner’s insurance company will compensate you fairly, however, is a different story altogether.
Before you accept a settlement, it is important to know what losses you may be able to recover for a dog bite. Potential damages may include:
Medical Expenses in Dog Bite Claims
The cost of medical care makes up a significant portion of damages in a dog bite claim. You may be entitled to recovery of the following losses:
- The cost of transportation to the emergency room
- Emergency room treatment, including diagnostic tests, disinfection and debridement of the wound, stitches, etc.
- Surgical repair of the injury (if necessary)
- Rehabilitation (if the dog bite results in loss of mobility or function)
- Reconstructive surgery
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in a dog bite claim is only accounting for the current medical bills you are facing. If your injuries will require treatment in the future, it is crucial to account for these expenditures and seek fair compensation for your upcoming medical costs.
Lost Wages in Dog Bite Claims
A dog bite can adversely affect your income in two different ways:
- Lost wages: You can claim any and all wages you were unable to earn while you recover from the dog bite. Depending on your occupation and the severity of the injury, you may be out of work for weeks, months, or even longer.
- Loss of earning capacity: This refers to the income you will lose in the future because the dog bite injury makes it impossible for you to return to your job and/or take on other gainful employment.
Dog bite injuries can be very serious. Trauma to the hands and arms is common in dog attacks, potentially resulting in broken bones, nerve damage, and damage to soft tissue. Recovery from these injuries is challenging, with some victims never recovering full function.
It is important to have a full understanding of how the dog bite will affect your ability to earn a living. You may be entitled to substantial compensation for lost wages and loss of earning capacity if you are unable to work short-term, long-term, or permanently.
Pain and Suffering in Dog Bite Claims
One of the biggest areas of dispute between claimants and insurance companies revolves around compensation for pain and suffering. Unlike medical bills and lost wages, these damages do not constitute actual monetary losses. Instead, they compensate you for the negative impact on your quality and enjoyment of life.
You may be entitled to pain and suffering damages if you experience the following as a result of a dog bite:
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.
- Sleep disturbances and nightmares
- Shame and embarrassment from scars and disfiguring injuries
- Inconvenience and humiliation associated with a disability
In cases of serious injury and/or where the insured (i.e., the owner of the dog) is clearly at fault, insurance companies might account for pain and suffering in the settlement offer. Carriers may rate the seriousness of the injury and multiply the rating by your economic damages (the multiplier method) or determine the daily cost of living with a dog bite injury (the per diem method).
The problem with both of these methods is that neither of them accurately account for your losses; they are an approximation at best. A dog bite lawyer can determine the full value of pain and suffering in your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Dealing with the Insurance Company After a Dog Bite
According to the latest research by the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of a dog bite claim nationwide is $50,245. What insurance will pay in your specific case, however, depends on a number of different factors.
Issues such as the severity of your injuries and the total value of your losses can affect how much compensation you may be able to recover. Allegations of wrongdoing on your part can also affect your claim.
North Carolina has adopted a contributory negligence rule. Any share of fault on your part – no matter how small – will bar you from compensation.
Insurance companies are aware of this, and they will do whatever they can to deny your claim on the grounds that you provoked the dog who bit you. Failing this, the insurer will likely make a lowball payment offer and/or try to get you to act against your interest by providing a statement, granting access to your medical records, and more.
Working with an attorney is essential for avoiding these and other problems in your dog bite claim. Your lawyer will calculate the total losses in your dog bite claim, including medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and more. Perhaps more importantly, a dog bite attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf with the goal of securing a settlement that pays you fairly for your injuries and damages.
Dog attacks can happen anywhere. Whether you were bitten by a dog on premises belonging to a friend, neighbor, or family member or sustained injuries from a dog bite off property, you may be able to bring a claim against the owner.
Trying to negotiate a fair settlement on your own is intimidating and often very difficult. The Whitley Law Firm has the experience, knowledge, and resources to overcome the tactics employed by insurance companies and obtain a favorable result on your behalf.
Please call the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today. Our dog bite lawyers serve clients in Raleigh, Kinston, New Bern, and throughout North Carolina. It won’t cost anything to see if we can help.