Strong Legal Help After Dog Bite Injuries
Animal attacks are often traumatic and even life-altering, especially if a child is involved. A dog bite can cause significant damage, especially to children. This can result in costly surgeries and even therapy to correct the harm. If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by another person’s dog or pet, there are legal options you can take to receive compensation for the attack.
At Keller, Woods & Thompson, P.A., our personal injury attorneys understand the physical and emotional scarring that can result from a dog bite or animal attack. We work to ensure that you or your child’s scars and injuries receive the treatment needed to make the fullest recovery possible, while we fight to ensure that those medical bills and pain are compensated.
We are known and trusted throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin by clients whom we have helped recover. Doctors respect our work and routinely refer patients to us for representation. Our staff of personal injury lawyers provides individualized care and attention on each case, committed to recovering everything that the client is entitled to.
Seeking Legal Counsel
The stress involved in the aftermath of dealing with a dog bite injury can take its toll on you or your child. When initially dealing with the physical and emotional repercussions though, it’s important to document as much evidence as possible. Many victims of dog bites are attacked by the dog of a friend, family member, or neighbor. While most people want to avoid a claim against someone they know and love, it is important that the treatments you or your child needs are covered.
We will work through the individual’s insurance policies, finding coverage for your medical bills. After years of paying premiums, insurance is there to provide benefits when you need it. We will seek maximum compensation from the insurance companies.
You can gather evidence by:
- Taking photos of the bite marks or other injuries
- Taking photos of the dog
- Hanging on to clothing that was damaged from the animal attack
- Gathering witness statements
- Getting information from the dog owner about the breed, any aggressive propensities, and if the dog is up to date on their shots
Once you’ve sought medical attention and gathered evidence, it’s important to meet with a personal injury lawyer to find out if you have a legitimate claim and what types of damages can be recovered. Remember, even if you know the individual whose dog bit you or your child, it’s still important to make sure you’re compensated for any physical or emotional injuries from the animal attack. If you or your child in Minnesota or Wisconsin has sustained a dog bite injury, contact Keller, Woods & Thompson, P.A., to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.
Dog Owner Liability
There are a couple of different laws that different states impose in the case of a dog bite injury: One law is the “strict liability” rule, which means that the owner of the dog is liable for the injuries that their dog causes even if they are unaware that the dog can act aggressively.
The other law is the “one bite” rule, which requires that the owner knows that their dog has aggressive tendencies in order for them to be liable if their dog bites or attacks someone. In both Wisconsin and Minnesota, the “strict liability” rule is imposed, which means that the dog owner is liable for all injuries that the dog caused regardless of whether or not they knew the dog was aggressive.
There are a few other stipulations required for the “strict liability” rule to be enforced. This rule requires that:
- The person bitten was in a place they were legally allowed to be, such as a public place or legally on private property
- The person attacked was “acting peaceably”
- The person bitten did not provoke the dog
If these requirements are met, the owner of the dog will be liable for injuries. It is important to note that injuries don’t just cover dog bites. If the animal jumps on the person, knocks them over, and causes injuries from the fall, the owner will also be responsible for these injuries.
Other Responsible Parties
Not every dog bite or animal attack is the same. It’s important to understand how different circumstances could affect your claim and who else may be liable depending on the events that transpired.
Other people who could be held responsible for the dog bite injury include:
- A kennel, pound, or animal sitter who was caring for the dog at the time of the injury
- The parents of a minor if the minor is the owner of the dog
- A property owner that allowed the dog to live on their property
- A landlord of an apartment complex could be liable if they knew that the dog was aggressive
It’s important to consider these other parties, especially if you plan on consulting with a personal injury lawyer about the injuries you or your child sustained from a dog bite or animal attack. It’s important that we have as much information as possible about the events and people involved so we can decide on the legal claim that you have and what type of damages can be recovered.
Whether or not you know this information, it’s still important for you to contact a personal injury lawyer. If you’re in Minnesota or Wisconsin, contact Keller, Woods & Thompson, P.A., today.
Potential Defenses for Dog Owners
As stated, there are certain conditions that must apply for the dog owner to be liable for their animal’s attack. If the person bit was somewhere they weren’t supposed to be when they were bitten, if they were acting aggressively, or they provoked the dog, then the dog owner may not be liable because they were not the ones at fault for their dog attacking another person.
For example, if the dog owner knows that their dog has aggressive tendencies and warns another person to stay away from their dog, but the person approaches the dog anyway and is bitten, the owner would not be liable. In this situation, the behavior of the person who was injured would be considered “contributory negligence” or “assumption of risk.” This means that, even though they received warnings about the dog, they still acted without care for their own safety.
Another instance where the dog owner could claim “contributory negligence” or “assumption of risk” is when a person climbs over a fence and is bitten by a dog on the other side. If the jury believes that a reasonable person would not behave in this way, the dog owner will not be held liable.
Damages That Can Be Recovered
Depending on the extent of your or your child’s personal injuries from a dog bite, you could be entitled to different the recovery of different damages. These types of damages include:
- Medical expenses, including emotional therapy
- Lost wages if you missed work due to your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage if the animal also damaged your property or belongings
- Punitive damages
For punitive damages to be awarded, it must be proven that the owner was aware of their dog’s aggressive behavior but continued to allow them to run freely in areas where people or children are. This includes schools, parks and other public areas. Punitive damages are specifically meant to punish the owner for their intentional negligence.
Find Legal Help In Greater Minnesota and Wisconsin
Whether you or your child has sustained a physical or emotional injury from a dog bite or animal attack, seeking the help of a personal injury lawyer can help you receive awards for damages that will help you cover medical expenses, damaged property, and other losses.
If you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin, Keller, Woods & Thompson, P.A., could be the perfect team to represent you. Contact our office in the Twin Cities today to schedule a consultation. Give us a call at 763-447-4076 to get started.