Mistakes to Avoid in a Kansas City Dog Bite Claim

There are multiple mistakes that a person can make after they have been injured that can really hamper any potential personal injury case they make down the line – whether that injury stemmed from a negligent driver or whether that person was bit by a vicious dog. What you say (and do not say) in the first moments after an incident in which you were injured is important for many reasons (i.e. it can get into evidence at trial). It is hard to think clearly immediately after you were bit by a dog, as getting bit by a dog is a traumatic experience. Most of our clients who were bit by a dog have told us how they have recurring nightmares for months or years after the incident. If you can, try to avoid these mistakes in the event you decide to make a dog bite claim and potentially file a lawsuit, even if some time goes by between the attack and when you decide to hire the Kansas City dog bite lawyers at Foster Wallace, LLC:

Leaving the Scene of the Bite Too Quickly

The scene of the bite attack contains valuable information that you will need if you decide to start the dog bite lawsuit process. You need to immediately seek out medical attention. If you can do so though, please take pictures of the area where you were bit so that you can show your lawyer where you were in relation to the dog when it attacked you. Further, take pictures of your injuries and, if possible, exchange contact information with the dog’s owner or any eyewitnesses if you do not already have their contact information.

Assuming That You Do Not Need Medical Treatment

Even if you are the kind of person who does not go to the doctor except in a dire emergency, you should seek medical treatment immediately after a dog bites you. If there is no one with you who can drive you to the emergency room to treat you for your dog bite injuries, then call 911 and have an ambulance take you. There are several reasons you should do this. First, you might be injured more seriously than you think you are; you might not know how painful your injuries are until the adrenaline wears off and the swelling and bruising start. Second, getting prompt treatment can prevent permanent damage to certain tissues and can stop the wound from getting infected. Third, having a detailed report of your injuries written by the doctor who treated you in the emergency room will help your case if you decide to file a lawsuit. Because of the chance of a rabies infection, you always should go to the doctor after being bit by a dog to be properly tested for an infection. If you were bitten by an infected dog, rabies symptoms may take weeks or months to appear. The length of time before symptoms appear can vary based on where you were bitten and whether. you were vaccinated against rabies.

Assuming That You Do Not Need a Personal Injury Lawyer

Do not think of hiring a dog bite lawyer as a last resort. In fact, you should talk to a lawyer very early on; the sooner you start working with a dog bite lawyer, the more he or she can help you, and the more the money you could save. Ideally, you should call a dog bite lawyer on the first business day after the attack, or, if your injuries are serious enough to require hospitalization, right after you are released from the hospital. A dog bite lawyer can help you get the money to cover your injury-related expenses, sometimes without even going to court. A lawyer should also be able to properly advise you and communicate with the dog owner’s insurance company. As soon as you hire a lawyer, the insurance company can no longer talk to you and has to talk to you through your personal injury attorney.

Not Communicating with the Owner of the Dog

Missouri has a policy of strict liability when it comes to dog bites; that means that, unless you instigated the attack or trespassed on the dog owner’s property, the owner is legally responsible for the fact that his or her dog bit you. Dog owners may not know this; they also may not know that they also may be responsible to pay up to a $1,000 fine to the court in addition to paying you the damages that the court awards you. Exchange contact information with the owner right after the attack, if you do not already have their information, and then call them after you get your bill from the ER. Do not make threats, and give the owner a chance to make you an offer. Of course, use your judgment; do not try to deal directly with the owner if you feel that the owner is trying to intimidate you. You should tell the owner to turn over the claim to his or her homeowners or renters insurance policy.

Speaking Too Freely with Insurance Companies That Ask About the Incident

One of the perks about hiring a dog bite attorney is not just that they know what to say to judges and juries about the incident but that they also know what to say to insurance companies. Much like what happens after a car accident, you might get calls from the dog owner’s insurance company after the attack. Insurance adjusters will want to take a recorded statement from you. Giving a recorded statement to the insurance company is one of the worst things you can do, from the perspective of a plaintiffs’ lawyer without first being counseled about how to respond to their questions. The insurance company is using the recorded statement to find inconsistencies in your story, or any other reason they can find to pay you less money. If you file a lawsuit, your recorded statement is full of evidence that the defendant can use against you. Therefore, do not give a recorded statement in most circumstances, and have the insurance company talk to your lawyer. A dog bite lawyer can often negotiate a good settlement with the insurance company and avoid the need for a lawsuit.

Worrying Too Much About Proving Negligence on the Part of the Dog Owner

After a car accident or slip and fall injury, the injured person and his or her lawyer put a lot of effort into proving negligence on the part of the defendant. This is not necessary in a dog bite case because of the strict liability laws governing dog bites. Simply by owning the dog, the owner is legally responsible for injuries caused by the dog.

Michael Foster
Connect with me
Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney