A dog bite victim, and the heirs of a person who is killed by a dog, are entitled to compensation if another person, firm or corporation is legally liable for the incident and the suffering it caused. (For an explanation of legal liability, see Plain English Overview of Dog Bite Law.) The amount of compensation varies widely from case to case.
What the victim can receive
There is no general rule that determines what a surviving victim will receive. The categories of compensation, however, are well established:
- Medical treatment such as first aid, emergency room, hospital, and ambulance.
- Future medical treatment for scar reduction, pain management, physical therapy, etc.
- Psychological counseling to overcome the emotional trauma of the attack, fear of dogs, fear of being outdoors, and dealing with disfigurement.
- Loss of earnings from work or loss of profits at the victim's business.
- Loss of the capacity to earn money in the future as a result of disfigurement or disability.
- Veterinary medical treatment for the victim's dog if it also was injured in the same incident.
- Torn clothing and broken glasses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Future disability.
What the owner of an injured dog can receive
If your dog was wrongfully injured or killed, you can obtain the legal forms necessary for receiving compensation, as well as additional legal advice and guidelines, from the book entitled When a Dog Is Injured Or Killed.
What family members of an injured person can receive
Many states recognize that the person who is bitten might not be the only victim. A member of the immediate family might suffer from emotional distress as a result of seeing the victim getting mauled. This would be the basis of what is called a "bystander claim." A spouse might suffer because the husband or wife is incapacitated in some way. This is called a "loss of consortium" claim. If the victim dies from his injuries, family members might have claims for "wrongful death." In situations like the ones described in this paragraph, a person must retain a lawyer. See see Does An Adult Need a Lawyer For a Dog Bite Claim?, and Should Parents Get a Lawyer For Their Injured Child? For further information about bystander claims, read Legal Rights of Bystanders and Family Members.
Other compensation and the need for an attorney
In specific cases, a victim might receive other types of compensation in addition to those mentioned above. For example, victims have recovered for prepaid vacations, job retraining, and similar items of loss. For that reason, a injured person should consult an attorney to determine what might be involved in a particular case.
Estimating the amount of compensation for a victim is a difficult task that requires the learning and experience of an attorney. This is one of the reasons why dog bite victims need to have legal representation. For more about this, see Does An Adult Need a Lawyer For a Dog Bite Claim?, and Should Parents Get a Lawyer For Their Injured Child?