Dogs are playful, loyal, and cute. They can also be dangerous enough to cause a severe personal injury. Some dogs are vicious while others bite simply because they misinterpret your actions as threatening. Whatever the reason, a minor dog bite can cause pain and scarring. A severe attack can leave you with torn flesh and muscles, pain, and permanent disfigurement. Dog bites can cause a disability and reduce your capacity to earn a living.
When a dog injures you or a family member, you need help recovering from the long-term medical and financial consequences. It’s important to seek medical treatment first. Then contact a legal professional. A personal injury attorney acts on your behalf to protect your legal rights from day one.
When a dog bites, things get complicated
Don’t be surprised if a dog lover gets defensive when their dog injures you. Instead of taking responsibility, the owners may blame you. Instead of offering to pay your medical bills, they might refuse to get involved. Fortunately, the statutes in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and cities throughout the region require dog owners to exercise control over their pets. Laws also prohibit dogs from participating in “at large” activities that allow them to run free with the opportunity to cause harm. Owners must keep their dogs properly leashed, tethered, or fenced-in at all times.
Minnesota statute 347.22 compels the owner or person in control of a dog to take responsibility. Under most circumstances, the owner is held strictly liable for dog bite injuries. This means they have no viable defense to your claim for damages. As an injured party, a responsible dog owner owes you money for medical bills, lost wages, scarring, and the same types of damages payable under a typical personal injury claim.
Who will pay your bills?
As with any serious injury, medical bills from a dog bite mount very quickly. It’s reasonable to wonder who will pay your bills and lost wages. If the dog owner has a homeowners or renters insurance policy, they most likely have liability coverage to pay your claim. Their policy might also have a medical payments provision. Of course, it’s possible that the dog owner may delay filing an insurance claim for several reasons:
- May not be aware that liability insurance covers dog bite injuries
- Might not believe their dog is at fault
- Hope that if they ignore you, you might go away
If you have health coverage, it’s a good idea to submit a claim to your own insurance carrier. That’s the best way to avoid treatment delays and payment disputes. Fortunately, if your insurance company pays your bills, it doesn’t eliminate the dog owners liability for your expenses. Your insurance company will subrogate to collect the money paid out on your behalf.
Lost wages are another matter. If you don’t have a wage continuation plan on your job, you may end up depleting your savings. It’s also possible that you’ll have to reduce your standard of living during your recovery.
A personal injury attorney fights for you
An attorney plays a crucial role in presenting a dog bite claim to the right parties. As your personal legal representative, your attorney will follow an organized plan of action to resolve your case.
- Investigate the incident
- Put the dog owner on formal notice of your legal rights
- Follow-up with any liability insurance companies
- Present your claim for pain, suffering, scarring and other financial damages
- Seek insurance settlement when you reach optimum healing
- Settle your claim with the dog owner if they have no liability insurance
- File a lawsuit if necessary
You need a legal professional
As with any serious injury, a dog bite can change your life. It’s important to have a personal injury attorney working on your behalf. Contact us at our St. Paul office to schedule a free confidential consultation. We will review your case and do everything possible to protect your legal interests.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Be sure to contact our law office to discuss your case with an attorney.