Dog attacks are not only frightening but can leave the victim with serious, sometimes permanent injuries. If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, follow the proper procedures to protect your health and legal rights.
The Ohio Administrative Code requires that anyone with knowledge of a dog bite report the incident to the local health commissioner within 24 hours. The primary reason is to determine if the animal in question has been inoculated or is a potential carrier of rabies. The dog may have to be quarantined for a period of time to make that determination. As a victim, you would want to determine the owner of the dog immediately and file the report to determine whether your attack has the potential to expose you to rabies.
If you are attacked and injured by a dog it is important that you are examined by a medical professional immediately. Any type of injury should be treated, but in particular, if bitten by a dog, the risk of rabies should not be ignored. If the authorities, as mentioned above, cannot determine if the dog is or is not a potential carrier of rabies, you may need to undergo a series of injections.
In addition, any personal injury claim, including dog attacks, must be supported by documented medical evidence. In other words, timely proper medical care will protect you both medically and legally.
Ohio Revised Code 955.28(B) states that a dog owner, keeper, or harborer is liable for any injury caused by a dog within their control. This is Ohio’s “strict liability” law regarding dog attacks which means that you do not need evidence of prior attacks by a dog to make the owner liable. A traditional “negligence” claim is still available but requires that the owner was aware of prior attacks by the dog. Another distinction is that the Statute of Limitations under ORC 955.28(B) is 6 years for STRICT LIABILITY claim versus 2 years for the “negligence” claim. The 6 year Statute of Limitations is advantageous if the injuries, such as scarring, would require a delay to determine the permanency of the injuries or the need for potential future treatment. Finally, note that you DO NOT have to be bitten by a dog to present a claim. Injuries, sometimes serious, may be sustained by a dog attack without an actual bite. For example, the dog may push you to the ground causing broken bones, brain injury, etc.
The damages available if you are injured in a dog attack are similar to damages in other personal injury claims. The dog owner would be responsible for your medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering. Note that the owner is also responsible for any future damages if the injuries are permanent in nature. A “negligence” claim allows the pursuit of punitive damages if the owner was reckless. An experienced dog bite attorney will know to pursue any or all of these claims on your behalf.
Who is Responsible for a Dog Bite Claim?
One of the critical questions for the victim of a dog attack is determining who is responsible. Who is the owner? At the time of the attack who was in control of the dog? What is a harborer or keeper of the dog and what were their responsibilities at the time of the attack? Is a landlord responsible? Typically not. An experienced dog bite attorney will investigate and assist you in determining the responsible party.
What Insurance Covers a Dog Bite Claim?
Related to determining who is responsible for the dog is finding insurance to cover the claim. Although you can pursue the personal assets of the responsible party in a dog attack the prospects of collecting are usually difficult. Homeowner’s insurance is the most common coverage for a dog owner. General liability insurance policies, umbrella policies and commercial coverage (if the dog was in the control of a commercial keeper or harborer) might also cover a claim. An experienced dog bite attorney investigates to find all the applicable insurance.
Dog Bite Claims- Experts & Costs
- Medical experts are often needed when the injuries are more serious and permanent. Any good dog bite lawyer will finance the costs of the experts and you owe money only if you win. A common injury in dog bites and attacks, especially with minor children, is some type of scarring. The victim may need future cosmetic surgeries or skin grafts. A competent medical expert can provide both the medical prognosis and future costs of treatment. An experienced dog bite attorney will seek out these experts on behalf of the client to make sure a full picture of the damages is presented to the responsible party.
- Experts on future economic damages may also be needed. If a victim of a dog attack is left disabled or facing years of medical treatment and expenses, an economist or financial expert may be required to present a comprehensive report on future wage loss, medical expenses or a life plan. These experts can be critical to obtaining proper compensation for the victim.
- For the above reasons, it is important to choose a dog bite lawyer who has the financial assets to hire the appropriate experts and take a claim to court. It can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to litigate a claim. Feel free to discuss whether the lawyer you consider hiring can afford to litigate your case, if necessary.
Without the services of Attorney Chester, I would not have known where to go to get help. I would have been injured and not known the extent of my injury, where to go for medical treatment, or know who to talk to about compensation for my pain and suffering.
– Maggie G.
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