When Should I Sue a Dog Owner Over a Bite?
Being bitten by someone else’s dog can be a terrifying experience. Nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually, resulting in hospitalization, medical bills, stress, and emotional turmoil. Whether the dog was known to have a history of aggression or not, dog bite victims are entitled to seek monetary compensation from the dog’s owner.
In the State of Colorado, dog owners are automatically responsible for any injury or damage the dog causes. After an attack that causes bodily injury, dog owners are liable for covering the costs of medical expenses or any other related losses.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
All dogs, regardless of how friendly they may seem, are capable of biting someone. Young children are victims in more than half of all dog bites; they are most vulnerable to dog bites because they’re small and might not understand how to recognize warning signs or avoid an attack. That’s why it’s critical to understand the reasoning behind why dogs bite. In the end, you may be able to prevent an attack from happening to you or someone you love.
Generally, none of the reasons for dog bites have to do with the dog purposely attacking nor the breed or size. The main reasons dogs bite include:
- Protection of property, owner, toy, or food
- Triggers like running, walking, or loud noises
- Maternal instincts
- Defense mechanism
When to Seek Medical Care after a Dog Bite
If you were playing with a dog or a dog approached you and attacked without warning, seeking medical care is crucial. Dog bites typically result in open wounds due to the sharpness of canine teeth, but not all dog bites break skin. Your main concern is the risk of infection, especially if the wound is open and deep.
After assessing the condition of the wound, you may determine that the injury is minor and that you can safely manage it at home through over-the-counter medicine and pain relief techniques. However, you should seek medical care if:
- There are multiple wounds
- Bleeding persists for over 15 minutes
- The dog was a stray
- You have an underlying illness
- You notice redness, swelling, or pus
If you know the dog’s owner, immediately ask for documentation of the dog’s immunization records and vaccinations. Depending on the extent of your injury, your doctor may treat your injury with antibiotics. Under severe circumstances, treating your dog bite may include a series of reconstructive surgeries, infection control, and mental therapy.
Types of Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bite cases are no exception to personal injury law. Under Colorado law, dog owners are legally liable for an attack that takes place on public or private property and results in serious bodily injury or death, as long as the plaintiff was lawfully there. Dog bite victims may pursue compensation for both economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Past, present, and future medical bills
- Property damage (such as clothing, glasses, or electronic devices)
- Lost wages
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Mental anguish
Victims may collect this compensation through an out-of-court settlement or litigation. But how do you know which one is best for your case?
Should I Settle or Take My Dog Bite Case to Court?
Settling a case means that you, your attorneys, the dog owner, and the dog owner’s insurance company came to a mutual resolution without going to trial. On the other hand, pursuing your case through litigation means presenting your case in court, where a judge and jury will decide on an appropriate value for your losses. Both settlement and litigation come with several advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a quick rundown of both.
Pros and Cons of Settlement
Most people prefer settling their claims because it’s faster and allows both parties to move past the incident that occurred sooner. In addition, those who aren’t in the legal profession are typically unaccustomed to the stress and demands of litigation. Other benefits of settling a personal injury case include:
- Faster payout
- Privatizing matters
- Saves time and money
However, settling does pose the risk of receiving a low-ball offer. In the aftermath of an accident, you may feel pressured to take whatever offer you can get in the hope of covering your current losses. In the long run, that low settlement will not be enough to cover future medical expenses, lost wages, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
Pros and Cons of Litigation
In other instances, taking your case to court may be your only option for securing what you’re rightfully owed. This happens when the defendant and insurance companies refuse to accept responsibility and establish an agreeable payout. Perhaps you feel like you’ve been harmed in such a way that you see no other choice but to pursue your case through a lawsuit.
Whichever the case may be, litigation comes with two main advantages:
- The ability to receive the full extent of your losses
- Closure and emotional satisfaction of winning
On the flip side, going to trial and succeeding is never guaranteed. Plus, a trial is longer and may be more overwhelming. Hiring a trusted dog bite lawyer will help you determine which legal process is best for your case.
Colorado Personal Injury Attorneys Fighting for Justice in Dog Bite Cases
Most dogs are harmless and have great temperaments. Unfortunately, dogs can turn aggressive and attack innocent people at any given moment, resulting in serious lacerations, permanent scars, and long-term recovery. The experienced dog bite attorneys at Mintz Law Firm will advise you on the best course of action and work diligently to seek the highest amount of compensation for your damages. Whether through settlement or litigation, our legal team routinely challenges insurance companies who deny responsibility, and our proven results show that we don’t back down to anyone.
To schedule a free no-obligation consultation with one of our Colorado dog bite injury attorneys, call (303) 462-2999 or complete a contact form today. It costs you nothing to discuss your case with our team, and we’re accessible seven days a week, day or night, for your call.