Dogs are supposed to be man’s best friend. But some dogs aren’t all that friendly. If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you know how scary and painful it can be. All it takes is one bite or attack and you’ll be afraid of dogs the rest of your life. An Indianapolis dog bite lawyer at Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers handles these types of cases all the time.
Usually, you know the family who owns the dog. It could be your friend or neighbor. It could even be a family member’s dog. But sometimes, the dog’s owner is a complete stranger. Regardless of who owns the dog, you may need the help of a personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis to help you file a claim for damages.
Indiana has dog bite laws just like most other states. These laws are meant to protect people from getting attacked by a dog in public places. For the most part, dog bites that take place on private property fall under ordinary negligence.
The good news is, your dog bite attorney can help you get compensation for your injuries. It doesn’t matter where it took place, if you were attacked by a dog, you may have a claim for damages. Call the expert lawyers at Stewart|Phelps|Wood to speak with our experienced professionals about your dog bite case. We will answer all of your questions and provide guidance on how you should proceed.
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How Much is My Dog Bite Case Worth?
It’s impossible to say for sure how much any injury case is worth. The same is true for dog bite cases. It depends on how badly you were injured. It also has to do with who was at fault.
Dog bite cases can be complex. Every case is different. It’s the same for all other kinds of personal injury cases. There are, however, a few factors that can help determine what your case may be worth.
Some of these factors include:
- How serious were your injuries?
- Did you have a lot of medical bills related to your dog bite?
- Did you lose any earnings or future earnings?
- How bad were your pain and suffering?
- Are you going to need future medical care, such as reconstructive surgery?
The Indianapolis Dog Bite Attorneys at Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers will diligently look at all of the factors to ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries.
What Damages Can I Obtain Compensation for After a Dog Bite?
When it comes to dog bite cases, one of the biggest factors in whether or not you’re disfigured as a result of the bite. Your overall physical injuries are also considered. It could take weeks or months to recover from your attack. You may need surgery and physical therapy. It can be quite sometime before your doctors know just how bad your injuries are.
Once your injuries start to heal, your physician will have a better idea of whether you’ll need cosmetic surgery. This will depend on the part of your body that was injured. If it was your face or neck, there’s a good chance you’ll have some scarring. If this scarring is permanent, you’ll be entitled to additional compensation.
If you do need cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, it usually isn’t covered by your insurance. This means you’ll have to pay for this out of pocket. You’re entitled to be compensated for these costs. The defendant should be held accountable.
There are all sorts of medical bills associated with a dog bite injury. Some of these include:
- First aid
- Emergency room
- Hospital admissions
- Plastic surgery
- Psychological counseling
- Future scar revision procedures
- Future medications
The defendant (or their insurance) should be held liable for these expenses. Your Indianapolis dog bite attorney will demand that they reimburse you for these costs.
Lost Wages and Lost Future Earnings
If you’re out of work for a while due to your injuries, you’ll be entitled to lost wages. The general rule is that you have to miss at least a week or more from work to demand lost wages. If you miss a significant amount of time from work, your lawyer will demand compensation.
If you end up permanently disabled after your attack, you can demand lost future earnings. If you can’t do the same kind of work after your dog bite, you can demand compensation.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are intended to compensate you for the physical and mental anguish caused by the attack. This could include the following:
- The emotional trauma of the attack
- Anxiety you experience when you’re around dogs or in public places
- Humiliation and emotional distress you experience due to any disfigurement or scarring
- Time, trouble and inconvenience of going to doctor visits.
Whether or not you receive pain and suffering depends on a few things. Your Indiana dog bite lawyer will have to prove the following:
- Any long-term or permanent injuries caused by the attack, including disfigurement
- Invasive medical treatment such as surgery
- Physical pain caused by the attack and recovery
- Need for future medical treatment, perhaps to deal with scarring
- Psychological counseling to help you with the emotional trauma and possible PTSD
- Emotional distress
Your dog bite attorney in Indianapolis will demand that you be compensated fairly for all of these things.
How Do I Choose the Best Indianapolis Dog Bite Lawyer?
If you or your child have been injured in a dog attack, you’re entitled to justice. You shouldn’t have to struggle to pay the medical bills that result from the dog bite. You’re going to have to deal with insurance companies and lawyers. You need to focus on recovering from your injuries. Let an experienced Indianapolis dog bite lawyer deal with the legal side of things.
If you google a dog bite lawyer in Indiana, you get hundreds of hits. You’ll be overwhelmed. Who knows which attorney is the best attorney? Here’s a quick guide to help you decide which dog bite lawyer is best for you.
Do they have experience handling dog bite cases?
Take a look at the lawyer’s website and see if they have any testimonials. Have they gotten previous client’s money for their dog bite injuries? Make sure they know what they’re doing. Not all personal injury lawyers know how to handle a dog bite case.
Are their clients happy?
Most attorney websites will have a section where clients can write reviews and testimonials. Read these. Although some firms write their own reviews, most of them use legitimate testimonials. See what other clients have to say about the firm.
Do they know the law?
Just because someone does personal injury doesn’t mean they know the dog bite laws in Indiana. Check to see if they mention this on their website.
Select a lawyer that you’re comfortable with. You’re going to be working with your dog bite lawyer for a long time. You want to make sure it’s somebody you’re comfortable around. If you have any questions or want to talk about your dog bite case with an experienced Indiana attorney, call and schedule a free consultation with our office.
How Can I Find Out if the Dog’s Owner Has Insurance?
Whether or not you’re able to recover for your injuries depends on whether the dog’s owner has insurance. If they don’t have any insurance, it’ll be hard to get any compensation from them. Even if you win your lawsuit, you may never see a dime.
This is why it’s important to find out if the dog’s owner has either renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. If they do, it should cover your dog bite claim.
Property owners aren’t required to provide you with insurance information. Now, they usually will because they want to avoid being personally sued for damages. What your Indianapolis dog bite lawyer can do is contact the dog’s owner in writing.
Your lawyer will ask them to submit all insurance information. If they refuse to do so, your lawyer can file suit. They can then ask the court to order the defendant to supply this vital information.
If the owner has a lawyer, their lawyer will urge them to comply with this request. They’d rather the insurance company is required to pay your damages as opposed to their client.
If the defendant is a renter, it can be very difficult to file suit against the owner’s landlord. Indiana restricts the landlord’s liability in cases like this. Hopefully, the defendant has renter’s insurance. Their policy may cover things like dog bites. But there’s never a guarantee.
If the defendant owns their home, they will have homeowner’s insurance. If they have a mortgage on the house, they’re required to carry this insurance. Even if their home is paid off, they more than likely have this security.
Is there a Difference Between a Dog Bite on Public or Private Property?
In some states, where the dog bite took place matters more than anything else. In Indiana, it’s more important to determine if the dog owner has insurance. You still have to prove that the dog bit you. And, you have to prove your injuries. This is true no matter where the attack took place.
All dog owners have a duty of care toward you. They have to control their dogs at all times. Even if the person walking the dog wasn’t the owner, while the dog’s in their care, they’re responsible for it.
If the dog’s owner knows the dog is vicious, they have a duty to protect strangers from the dog. This is true no matter whether the dog bite takes place in a public park or on someone’s private porch.
Some owners have things like electronic fences or some other kind of pet containment system. These may keep dogs in, but they don’t keep people out. There’s nothing stopping a young child from walking onto your open yard and approaching your dog. Even if a dog’s inside their containment area, the owner is still liable.
If the dog owner rents their home, they should carry renter’s insurance. But, if they don’t, there is a chance their landlord may be liable. If the landlord knew that the animal was dangerous, they should’ve done something to get the owner to remove the dog.
If you’re in a business that caters and cares for dogs, they can be held liable for the dog’s attack. For example, if you’re in a dog groomer’s and get bitten by a dog they’re handling, you may be able to file a claim against the company. This is true if the company knew the dog was dangerous but allowed it on the premises anyway.
Dog parks present a unique problem. People tend to let their dogs run free in dog parks. It’s the one time they can take the leash off their pet and let them roam free. But people have to be careful. You can’t bring your dog to a park if they’re vicious toward people or other dogs.
Some people think dog parks are safe places when it comes to being sued. However, this isn’t the case. If someone gets injured because of a fight your dog gets into, you can be sued. It is very difficult to collect on a claim against a local township or municipality. Just because they created and maintain a dog park doesn’t make it responsible for what the dogs do inside that park. Local government is immune from these kinds of lawsuits. Unless they act egregiously and do something negligent, they won’t be held liable.
If you have a question about how to handle your dog bite claim, contact our office and speak with one of our experienced dog bite lawyers.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
Almost a million people are bitten by dogs every year. Some of these attacks are vicious while others are minor. Regardless of how bad the bite is, you need to seek medical attention. You have no idea if the dog was carrying a disease. You also want to be treated for your injuries.
In Indiana, you only have two (2) years to file your dog bite lawsuit. The two years starts on the date of the attack. If you don’t file your claim within this time, your claim will probably be dismissed.
Your Indiana dog bite attorney knows how long the statute of limitations period is. They also know what to do to make sure you file your claim on time. You don’t want to wait too long to retain your lawyer. If you try to handle it on your own, you could miss your window of opportunity.
A lot of dog bite victims are children. There are special rules when it comes to minor plaintiffs in Indiana. The general rule is that a minor has two (2) years from their 18th birthday to file suit. Because dog bites are often associated with children, it is very important to understand the laws associated with minors. Except in cases of wrongful death, an unemancipated minor must In order to qualify as a minor, the victim must not be emancipated. In other words, they can’t be self-supporting. If they are, the regular statute of limitations will apply.
How Long Will It Take My Dog Bite Case to Settle?
Every dog bite case is different. It would be impossible to say how long it will take for your case to settle. It’s not even possible to guarantee that your case will settle. There’s always the chance that you’ll have to go to trial.
The time it takes to resolve your case varies. It can depend on the nature of your attack. It also depends on whether or not you can locate the owner and confirm if they have insurance. This can take weeks or even months.
The other thing that can hold your case up is your medical treatment. You don’t want to file your claim until you know what your damages are. If you are being treated for months or even a year, you may have to wait to file your claim.
The longer it takes to file your claim, the longer it’ll take to settle. Your Indianapolis dog bite attorney is aware of this. They’ll work hard to get your case settled as quickly as possible. However, they don’t want to rush and take a low-ball settlement if they’re not sure of your damages.
You don’t want to settle your case until you’ve seen a doctor about any scars or disfigurement. You may need long-term medical treatment. You want to be able to include the costs of this treatment in your lawsuit.
Contact an Indianapolis Dog Bite Attorney for a Free Case Evaluation
If you or your child have been attacked by a dog, you need to call an experienced Indianapolis dog bite lawyer at Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers. Your lawyer can reach out to the dog’s owner and try to get insurance information. They can also negotiate with the defendant’s lawyer to settle your case.
Call Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers today at (317)593-3014 and schedule your free initial consultation. A skilled Indianapolis injury attorney can review your case and let you know what it may be worth. They can also answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to start the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries.
Remember, the consultation is free and you pay nothing until you settle your case.