There are good reasons to take action if you are bitten by a dog or if your dog was attacked by another dog.
Reasons to report the incident to Animal Control
- Animal control needs to know. They can't fix a situation that they don't know is broken.
- The dog owner needs a reality check. He likes to think that his dog is an asset. He needs to learn it is a danger and a liability.
- The dog might need confining. The dog owner might be ordered to muzzle it, keep it in a pen, take it out of the jurisdiction, or put it down.
Reasons to make an insurance claim
- Medical bills that are piling up.
- Medical bills for future treatment. Remember, your health insurance is not going to cover cosmetic treatment. Why should you have to pay for this out of your own pocket?
- Loss of income.
- Loss of future earning capacity, if the victim ends up with a disability or a bad scar on the face.
- Pain. Even if your bills are paid, how is a settlement fair if the victim isn't compensated for all the pain?
- Suffering. This refers to mental suffering, anxiety about being around dogs, humiliation at being scarred.
- Doing something about that dog. If the dog that bit you is vicious, the dog owner's insurance company might put pressure on the dog owners to get rid of it.
Reasons an attorney will represent you better than you can
- Settle for a fair and adequate amount of money. Asking an insurance company for money is, well, just asking. Demanding what's fair is something that an attorney can do, because only an attorney can file a lawsuit.
- Reduce the medical bills and health insurance liens. Yes, your health insurance and doctors are going to claim part of the settlement, so you need a lawyer to deal with them.
- Invest the "parked" money so it is safe and tax free. When the victim is a child, you need to plan ahead. Do you really think it will help him, or her, to receive tens of thousands of dollars the day of turning 18 years of age? With a lawyer, there will be a tax-sheltered annuity which will dole out the necessary money at a schedule that you yourself will set.
- Represent the family at the confirmation hearing. When a child is injured, there is no settlement without a confirmation hearing at court. It doesn't matter whether you get a lawyer or not: there still will be this hearing (but don't worry: the dog owners are not invited to it). Now, you either will be represented at this hearing, or only the insurance company will be represented. In other words, either you will know what is going to happen to your child's money, or you will be leaving it in the hands of the lawyer for the dog owners. The choice is obvious.
- Take the pressure off you. Why should you have to research everything, read laws, fight the insurance adjuster, fight the insurance company's attorney, etc.? You might say the wrong thing and hurt the case. Why not just concentrate on healing and let someone else handle the claim? Especially because it's done on a contingency fee basis -- in other words, at no up-front cost to you.
- Eliminate any questions or resentments in the future.
- Advance all of the costs of proving the loss. It takes money to put together evidence that an insurance company will accept. Why spend it when the attorney is willing to advance it?