Dogs are often considered man's best friend, but as animals, even the gentlest dogs can suddenly lash out and attack without warning or apparent provocation. When a dog owner negligently allows their pet to attack another person, the injured victim may be entitled to financial recovery for their injuries and losses.
If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you may not want to create a conflict or deal with the stress of hiring an attorney to pursue a legal claim, especially if the dog is owned by a family member, friend, or neighbor. But at Lynch Legal Services, PLLC, we believe that you should be compensated for losses due to injuries that weren't your fault. Sometimes you need a lawyer to pursue what's fair.
Our down-to-earth approach to handling your case is aimed at making the process of pursuing full compensation as easy and stress-free as possible. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn more about your rights and how our firm can help you seek the fair outcome you deserve with as little conflict and stress as possible.
Many dog bites and attacks involve a dog the victim knows, such as a dog owned by a family member, friend, or neighbor. If you've been seriously injured by a dog bite inflicted by the pet of someone you know, you understandably may not want to bring a claim for compensation against someone you have a personal relationship with. You may not want to create conflict between you or take money from them.
However, you shouldn't have to bear the financial consequences of an injury that wasn't your fault, either. Fortunately, when you bring a dog bite injury claim against the dog owner, the claim will most likely be handled and paid out by a homeowner's or renter's insurance company. So, you can rest assured that the compensation you receive will be coming from an insurer, not from the pocket of your family member, neighbor, or friend.
Dog owners carry insurance for this very reason - to protect themselves in the event they incur legal liability and to have a way to compensate people who are injured by their negligence.
Depending on the circumstances at the time of your injury, other parties may also bear responsibility for your injury and damages, such as a dog sitter or dog walker, a residential landlord (if the landlord knows that a tenant keeps an aggressive or vicious dog), or the owner or operator of a commercial kennel.
When a dog attack causes you to suffer a serious injury, you deserve to pursue full compensation for the damages and losses that can result from a significant dog bite injury, such as:
- Medical expenses, including ER bills, surgeries or other medical procedures, prescription medications, or physical/occupational therapy
- Lost wages and income if you miss work while you recover
- Lost earning capacity, if your injuries leave you with disabilities that prevent you from returning to your job
- Pain and suffering
- Lost quality of life, such as may be caused by physical disabilities or disfigurement
If you have been bitten by someone else's dog, you should take the following steps to help protect your rights and ensure you have the opportunity to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages:
- Notify the dog's owner, assuming you can identify the owner, about your injury.
- Alternatively, you can notify your local police department or animal control department, especially if the dog that attacked you is on the loose or if you suspect the animal may be carrying a disease.
- Take photographs, including pictures of gaps in fencing that a dog may have escaped from, as well as photographs of any visible injuries you may have suffered.
- Seek emergency treatment, especially if the bite breaks the skin or if you do not know the dog's vaccination status.
Dog bites can result in many kinds of complications for a bite victim, such as:
- Infections - Many kinds of bacteria live in a dog's mouth, including staphylococcus, Pasteurella, and capnocytophaga; these bacteria can lead to an infection if a dog bite breaks the skin. Dogs can also carry the rabies virus, which if left untreated can cause serious damage to the central nervous system, eventually resulting in death.
- Tissue damage - This can include damage to muscles, blood vessels, and nerves.
- Broken bones - Larger breeds can bite with enough force to break bones, especially in the hands and feet.
A dog, particularly of a larger breed, can even inflict fatal injuries if it decides to press its attack. Young children are particularly at risk of fatal dog attacks, since they lack the strength to fight off an attacking dog and their shorter height makes it easier for a dog's bite to reach vital areas in the head and neck.
In order to succeed in a dog bite claim in Vermont, you must show that the dog owner's negligence directly and proximately caused the attack and your injuries. Vermont law does not provide for strict liability for dog bite injuries.
In Vermont, dog bite laws follow the "one bite rule" that requires you to establish the dog owner's negligence by proving that the owner had reason to know that their dog had aggressive or vicious behavior through a prior history of biting or attacking.
Under Vermont's statute of limitations, you generally have three years from the date of a dog attack to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. Minor children have three years from their 18th birthday.
Failing to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires on your claim will very likely lead to the permanent dismissal of your claim by the court.
Let Vermont dog bite lawyer David Lynch help you to pursue the fair recovery you need and deserve by:
- Collecting evidence for your case, including incident reports, photographs, eyewitness statements, and records from your medical treatment
- Gathering bills, invoices, and other records to demonstrate the full extent of your losses
- Filing your claim with the insurance company and communicating with adjusters and representatives on your behalf so that you can focus on your treatment and recovery
- Pursuing your claim against the insurer in court, if necessary
When you choose us to help with your dog bite case, you will not be charged any fees by us unless and until we recover compensation on your behalf.
Get a free consultation with Lynch Legal Services, PLLC in Williston, VT today to discuss your case and to learn more about your rights and how our firm can help you pursue compensation for your losses.