Many people love their pets in Stonecrest, but some dogs are not safe to be around all people. If a dog owner isn’t careful, a dog might bite or attack another adult or child. After a dog bite, it’s essential to know your rights. Talk to a Stonecrest dog bite attorney today.
Dog bites and animal attacks can be devastating. At John Foy & Associates, we can determine if you’re eligible for financial compensation. Our goal is the maximum recovery for you and your family. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Your Legal Options After a Dog Bite
Dog owners have a legal duty to maintain control of their animals. If an owner lets their dog “go at liberty,” the dog can bite or otherwise injure someone else. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-2-7, the owner might owe the injured person damages. As a dog bite victim, you must be able to show that:
- The dog should have been on a leash or “at heel” according to local laws, and
- The dog was not on a leash or “at heel” when the attack happened.
Sometimes, a victim knows the dog’s owner. Other times, the dog owner could be a stranger to the victim. The dog owner could be nowhere in sight when the bite happens. After a bite, you might hesitate to bring a case if you know the owner.
However, your rights to compensation are essential. Most dog owners are glad to have homeowners’ insurance that covers dog bites or attacks. You usually don’t have to sue the owner personally to recover your costs.
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What You Can Compensate for After a Dog Bite
A dog bite affects your life in many ways. Therefore, you’ll need to consider each loss when filing a claim. Here are some of the most common damages from a dog bite.
Dogs can cause a lot of damage when they feel threatened or scared. For example, a dog’s jaws might clamp down on the victim and not let go. The injuries can be incredibly painful or disfiguring.
Treatment costs can include:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital bills
- Medication expenses
- Physical therapy
- Reconstructive surgeries
- Mental health counseling
You can claim all past, current, and future treatment costs. If you need long-term care, a lawyer can help you estimate future costs. It’s crucial to include every treatment-related loss in your claim.
If you were working before the dog attack, you’ll probably need to miss work time. You can claim this missed time as “lost wages.”
A dog bite can also affect your ability to work in the future. For example, you might need to work less or take on lower-paying jobs because of your injuries. You can claim this as lost earning capacity.
Pain and Suffering
Any accident can cause emotional damages along with physical injuries. Dog bites are especially traumatic for most victims. Children tend to have the worst emotional damages from animal attacks. Your lawyer will determine what the courts would award you for pain and suffering. They’ll consider losses like:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Scarring or disfigurement
Your lawyer will use a formula to calculate your pain and suffering. For example, after a dog bite, you can claim both financial and emotional losses.
Who’s at Fault for a Dog Bite or Attack
To have a valid claim, you must know who is at fault for the bite. Most of the time, the dog’s owner is responsible. Other times, a friend, family member, or boarding company could be responsible for the dog.
You might need to investigate after the dog bite to find the owner. Unfortunately, some bites happen when the owner is nowhere around. Thankfully, a dog bite lawyer in Stonecrest can examine the details to determine who is at fault.
What Scenarios Make Me Liable for My Dog Bite?
Although rare, certain situations can put you liable for a dog bite. You wouldn’t be able to file a claim if you:
- Intentionally tried to aggravate or provoke the dog into biting you
- Tried to harm the owner in some way, and the dog defended their owner
- Trespassed on private property, and the dog bit you
If you were doing any of the above and got bit by a dog, you will have to pay for the consequences on your own. If this isn’t the case, you can file a claim with the assistance of our lawyers. Even if you don’t think you need a lawyer, you should still contact one after your dog bite.
How to Know If You Need a Dog Bite Lawyer
If a dog has bitten you, you probably need help from a lawyer. Dog bite claims can be complicated and confusing. They can also be emotional if you know the dog or its owner personally. Here are some ways that a lawyer can help your case.
Discuss Your Rights for Free
Most personal injury lawyers will offer a free consultation. During this time, a lawyer will review your case to see if you have a valid claim. At John Foy & Associates, the consultation is always 100% free.
During the consultation, you can learn:
- Whether or not you have a strong case
- What compensation you’re eligible to receive
- What you need to do to get started
The consultation will also determine if you and your lawyer are a good fit. Again, it’s essential to work with someone you can be open with and feel comfortable contacting.
Investigate Your Case Details
It’s hard to think straight after a traumatic dog bite. But, thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone.
An experienced dog bite lawyer will investigate the details of your attack. They’ll collect evidence from the scene and help find the owner. Your lawyer will also document and calculate your damages. The goal is the fullest compensation possible.
Fight for What You Deserve
Insurance companies will do everything possible to hold onto their money. That often includes using various tactics to try and reduce your settlement amount. Our experienced Stonecrest dog bite lawyers will know how to respond. We can communicate with the insurer from the beginning and handle:
- Filing your injury claim
- Talking to the insurance adjuster
- Negotiating with the insurer for a fair offer
A dog bite lawyer has the training and experience to handle every step. You can focus on healing while your attorney fights for your rights.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites in Stonecrest
OCGA § 9-3-33 gives dog bite victims two years to file a claim. However, there are some cases where your time could be even less.
So, even though the law affords you a decent amount of time to file, you should never wait until the last minute or procrastinate on getting started. An insurance company can use the time you waste against you and make it harder for you to get a fair settlement.
Never Accept the Initial Offer
Insurance companies are businesses. Their main goal is to make money and protect themselves against insurance claims. So, even after something as traumatic and painful as a dog bite, the insurance company will still try to offer you just the bare minimum for your damages.
If they offer you a settlement right after you get bit, don’t accept. In fact, try to avoid speaking to any insurance adjuster until you get legal representation. Their goal is to trick you into accepting a lowball offer so they can absolve themselves from having to pay you a fair settlement.
Talk to a Stonecrest Dog Bite Lawyer Today
John Foy & Associates has been helping dog bite victims for over 20 years. As one of Georgia’s largest injury firms, we know what it takes to win cases. Plus, we do not collect a fee unless we win you money. Contact us today at (404) 400-4000 to get a free, no-risk consultation with a dog bite lawyer in Stonecrest. You can also fill out one of our online contact forms.