While they are man’s most loyal four-legged friend, dogs can also cause harm with bites and mauling. Approximately 4.7 million Americans suffer dog bites each year. Half of these victims are children aged between five and nine years, and one of every five cases requires medical attention. Apart from the bite, treatment may also be required for related injuries like infections, lacerations, sprains, and even broken bones. The greatest city in the world, New York City, is well-acquainted with dog bite cases occurring on a daily basis.
Generally speaking, when a dog harms someone, their owner is liable for the injury. However, they may not readily accept responsibility or be willing to provide compensation. When there is resistance to accept liability for an injury their dog has caused, it becomes a legal matter. As the victim, you will need the counsel of a personal injury attorney to guide you and perhaps represent you in the matter. If you have suffered a dog bite injury in New York, the first call you want to make after getting medical treatment is to hire a New York personal injury law firm.
A reputable law firm will have a portfolio of thousands of successful cases and hundreds of millions recovered in settlements. These verdicts demonstrate the firm’s relentlessness and expertise. Listings from different national organizations as one of the top 100 trial lawyers will also highlight the firm’s professionalism and dedication toward its clients.
The Primary Theories of Liability
These are contained in the Dog Bite Statute and under common law in Alabama.
The Dog Bite Statute
Under the Alabama Dog Bite Statute, a dog owner is financially liable when their pet injures someone on the owner’s property. The same is true when a victim is chased off the property by a dog. This law stipulates that an owner is held to strict liability, meaning they do not have to know whether their pet can attack someone. The party held liable must also be the dog’s owner and the property where the attack occurred or the dog began pursuit. A third condition is that the victim must not have provoked the attack.
Under Alabama Common Law, dog owners are not responsible if a dog that has always been gentle suddenly attacks someone. This earned it the nickname of a one-bite state. However, if the dog is known to tend to attack people or has bitten someone in the past, the owner is responsible if it does it again. It falls on the victim to prove this. It is known as propensity evidence.
When cases with dog bites go to court, the trials typically center around the owner’s lack of knowledge about their pet’s history. However, if they were aware it had bitten someone in the past and they kept the animal, they are fully responsible when it does it again.
Types Of Compensation In A Dog Bite Lawsuit
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 234 claims related to dog bites were made in Alabama in 2019. The average cost per claim was $43, 225.48 and the total value of claims was $10,110,000.
In another Alabama 2018 dog attack case, a couple was sentenced to a year in jail for criminally negligent homicide after their five dogs mauled a woman to death. Another woman was injured in the same attack. This attack happened a few days after a dog attacked and killed another woman. The owners were charged with manslaughter.
The type of compensation you get will depend on the extent of the injuries suffered. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the cases above, some attacks can be fatal. Compensation will be awarded for the following;
- The severity of the injuries suffered
- The cost of treating the injuries
- The distress caused during the attack and suffered afterward, such as anxiety and PTSD
- Loss of income after having to take time off after getting injured
A big part of getting the compensation is getting an experienced, knowledgeable Alabama dog bite attorney to go after it. The reputation of McCutcheon & Hamner Attorneys at Law when it comes to winning personal injury cases, including those to do with dog cases, speaks for itself.
Dog bite lawyers will work with you to create a case demonstrating the injury you suffered, what it cost you to treat financially, and any other ways the incident has affected you. This may be causing you to become anxious around dogs or the place you got attacked, PTSD after a vicious attack, and perhaps loss of income while you recover from the injury.
Filling out a form with details of the incident will be a good place to start. From there, we will devise a plan to get you the compensation you deserve. As we have for hundreds of other clients, we will put up a spirited fight for you, whether around a negotiation table or a courtroom.