What to Do When a Dog Bites Your Child
One minute your child is happily petting a dog, and the next thing you know, your child is crying, holding his arm after hat harmless looking pooch just bit your child.
After cleaning up the wound and making sure your child is no longer in harm’s way, what should you do? How can you get the protection you need for your child?
Hiring a Lawyer After a Dog Bites Your Child
For some parents with an injured child, the first thoughts that come to mind is, “Is my child going to be OK?” And “I should sue!” For others, after considering their child’s safety, they are concerned about destroying any relationships, fearing that hiring an attorney can make a bad situation even worse.
However, hiring an attorney after a dog bites your child may allow you to get compensation for your child’s injury and may allow you to better preserve relationships if the dog owner is a family member, friend or neighbor.
According to statistics compiled in 2012, about 5 million individuals are bitten by dogs each year. Of those, there were only 165,000 insurance claims filed, with millions not reporting.
Dog bites are typically covered under homeowners and renters insurance policies. Many victims decide not to pursue claims simply because the dog’s owner is a relative, friend or neighbor. And some may fear that the dog will be taken away from its owner, though this rarely happens. This happens because homeowners are often unaware that insurance covers injuries sustained from bog bites.
In 2010, an average claim from a dog bite was $26,166, which would cover medical bills after a dog bites your child, lost wages from a parent caring for the child, and additional expenses.
Benefits of Legal Help After a Dog Bites Your Child
Experienced attorneys can help preserve relationships by being a neutral party taking care of business in what could be an emotional battle.
Most dog owners, even friends, family and neighbors understand that when a dog bites your child, it is an accident, and they will understand when a parent needs to make a claim. An experienced dog-bite attorney can guide you in the process to try to ensure the situation is handled professionally and takes into account the feelings of the dog owners and the parents of the injured child.
Parents may only recover 10 percent to 20 percent of the eligible compensation advocating on behalf of the child, where an attorney can negotiate much greater compensation.
In working with parents who file a claim on their own, insurance adjusters typically compensate parents at a much lower rate than if they were negotiating with an attorney. Attorneys can help negotiate much higher dollar amounts, and even after the contingent fees from legal representation, parents can recover 66 percent to 75 percent of the higher compensation for their child.
Lawyers work on a contingency basis, and only are paid once compensation is granted.
Parents will not have to pay up front to have legal representation after filing an insurance claim if a dog bites your child. Attorneys take a fee of 25 percent to 33 percent only after a successful claim has been paid.
Parents can focus on caring for their child rather than being the “prosecutor” for their child.
Parents can focus on doing what they do best—taking care of their child. They don’t need to spend unnecessary time reading up on how to advocate for their child in a claim, as that is left to an expert once an attorney is hired.
Hiring an attorney to settle a claim doesn’t mean long, drawn-out court proceedings—it can streamline the process.
Most times, insurance claims are settled outside of court with no need for long court proceedings. Parents (who are not lawyers themselves) lack the legal expertise to properly negotiate with insurance companies to reach a fair agreement in a timely manner.
Lawyers help gather credible, reliable evidence to further support the claim, without charging parents up front.
In most states (unless where prohibited by law) parents will not have to pay lawyers up front to gather medical records, photographs and other evidence for the claim, and this could cost $1,000 to $2,000. Lawyers get this taken care of outright, and parents only owe this to the lawyer later if the claim is successful.
An attorney can expertly negotiate with third parties to obtain a settlement.
Sometimes, a settlement involves working with third parties, and lawyers have the experience to successfully negotiate with these third parties.
Parents have legal representation in the court appearance for judicial approval.
When a claim is settled, a court hearing is held. A lawyer from the insurance company attends, and if parents hire a lawyer, they are equally represented and can be coached on the process. Parents not having a lawyer can find this unnecessarily stressful.
Parents may earn compensation of their own with the right attorney.
When a dog bites your child, your child is certainly not the only one affected. It affects the parents as well, with time off from work and other expenses. An attorney can also negotiate on your behalf to help recover compensation due to you as a result of your child’s injury.
If a dog bites your child, you may qualify to file a personal injury lawsuit. Contact The Emma Law Firm for a FREE consultation by filling out the form on the bottom of this page.