When you have suffered an injury from a dog bite, there are many things to think about. You may have received serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment, which means you also received lots of medical bills. You may have had to miss work. You may have suffered emotional distress as well. And you may be wondering how you are going to recover from your injuries and still pay all your medical bills.
Most likely, you have reached the point at which an insurance company has offered you a settlement to compensate for all the injuries you have suffered. And you are probably wondering if that settlement offer is fair.
To answer that question, the first thing you must do is determine what kind of compensation you may be eligible to receive based on your injuries and the damages that you have suffered. Also, remember that an insurance company’s initial settlement offer is not their final offer. You can and should negotiate for more. And to do that effectively, you should consult with a seasoned dog bite attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies in negotiating dog bites settlements.
What Types of Compensation Am I Entitled to for My Dog Bite Injuries?
When considering whether a settlement offer you received from an insurance company is fair, remember that you may be entitled to many forms of compensation after a dog bite. You may be compensated for:
- Medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Physical property damage
- Punitive damages
This is probably the most obvious form of compensation for a dog bite. An insurance company may try to compensate you only for these damages. While it is essential that a settlement offer cover all of your medical bills, this is only one part of what a settlement offer can cover.
Pain and suffering
Compensation for pain and suffering can include a number of things, such as
- Physical pain
- Anxiety or fear
- Loss of consortium (inability to be intimate with your partner)
This means that, in addition to what you can document as medical expenses, you also can be compensated for your physical and emotional pain. This is particularly true in cases in which the dog bite causes permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Also, If your dog bite injuries are going to make it more difficult or less comfortable to interact in social situations, this may be a compensable injury. If you are kept up at night with nightmares resulting from your dog attack, or if you are nervous about going outside or being around dogs, this may be considered as a compensable injury. If your injuries make physical activities more difficult or impossible, you may be entitled to compensation for this as well.
Initially, most insurance companies will offer only a token amount for pain and suffering. But an effective attorney will be able to negotiate for a much greater amount that will cover all of the damages you actually sustain.
It will help if you can document these more generalized injuries in some way. For example, if you require therapy to cope with anxiety or fear after the dog bite injury, keep records and receipts from those therapy sessions to demonstrate the extent of your emotional distress.
If you have a broken bone or if you require surgery, you might have to take extensive time off from work after the dog bite. Perhaps you just have to take a few days off of work to recover. In the worst-case scenario, you might have to quit your job because you can no longer perform your job duties as a result of your dog bite injuries. Whether you lost your job or just had to take a week off for recovery, the settlement offer should account for any lost wages that you suffer as a result.
Physical property damage
It is not uncommon for physical property damage to result from a dog attack or dog bite. Often in a dog attack, for example, your clothes may be clawed, ripped, or bitten through. Nevertheless, settlement offers from the insurance company commonly omit this kind of consideration of personal property. However, such damage to property is compensable.
Also, if the dog bite also caused you to break your glasses, cell phone, or something else that you might have been carrying at the time, your settlement should account for those damaged items. If you were riding a bike or some other vehicle that broke when you were attacked and bitten by a dog, your settlement should cover that as well.
Punitive damages come into play when the dog owner has done something that would make their conduct particularly reckless. For example, an owner might have been reckless if they knew that their dog was dangerous but failed to restrain it, or if the owner provoked the dog to attack or bite. However, your settlement offer from the insurance company likely will not take punitive damages into consideration. In that case, to obtain punitive damages, you will need to initiate a lawsuit.
So, if you think you are entitled to punitive damages, it is not in your best interest to accept an initial settlement offer from the insurance company. Instead, you should consult with the experienced dog bite attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, to be sure you understand all of your legal options and are not settling for less than you deserve.
When you receive your settlement offer, consider whether it covers all of the above damages to which you are entitled. If the settlement offer is just for medical expenses, it likely is not a fair settlement to compensate you fully for your injuries. You should consult with the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, who will negotiate on your behalf and obtain for you the maximum compensation to which you are entitled for your dog bite injuries.
Should I Settle My Case Without Consulting an Attorney?
The bottom line is that insurance companies specialize in settling claims for as little as possible. It is very difficult for a person who is negotiating on their own behalf to obtain a settlement that includes a significant amount for pain and suffering. It is possible for you to negotiate well on your own behalf by being persistent and providing thorough records of the damages you have suffered, but a skilled lawyer is likely going to be able to obtain for you a much higher settlement.
Even if you think your dog bite is not significant and you just want a settlement that covers your basic medical expenses, you should still consult a lawyer. You may not fully understand the nature and extent of your injuries or the types of injuries for which you can be compensated. Certainly, if your injuries are significant or if your case is a complex one, you will only benefit from getting an experienced lawyer who will advocate on your behalf with the insurance company.
If you hope to obtain punitive damages, then you must consult with a lawyer before accepting any settlement from the insurance company.
Have You Experienced a Personal Injury in Kansas City?
If you've experienced a Kansas City personal injury, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.