How Much Could I Get from a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Philadelphia?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 85 million dogs live in households in the U.S. Additionally, there are about 4.5 million reported dog bites each year, most of them affecting young children.
Most homeowners and renters insurance provides coverage for dog bite liability. This is provided that the dog isn’t on the “dangerous breeds” list, which varies from one insurance company to another. Some deny coverage on a case-by-case basis, but seeing a specific list of so-called vicious breeds is more common. This coverage usually ranges from $100,000 to $300,000, but that depends on the policy. The coverage amounts may be more or less depending on the property.
As a victim, the amount you can recover from a dog bite lawsuit in Philadelphia depends on the circumstances, including the severity of your injuries. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at dog bite claims and how you can know what to expect from your lawsuit.
How are Dog Bite Claims Determined?
As with most cases that cause personal injury, dog bite cases are complex and require the attention of a dedicated attorney to help you get the best outcome. Several factors impact the damages that you can collect in your dog bite case, including:
- Severity of injuries
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering (emotional damages)
- Future injuries and procedure needs
Someone who had severe facial damage and needed major reconstructive surgery after a dog bite may be entitled to more compensation than someone with a minor injury requiring only a few stitches and no real time off work.
Let’s take a closer look at each element mentioned above.
The initial dog bite may not be the only injury you are looking at in a dog bite case. A dog bite victim should receive immediate medical attention and have a doctor document the full extent of any injuries. Medical provides can help determine information about:
- Recovery time
- Necessary surgeries or procedures
- Cosmetic procedures after wounds heal
- Future scar tissue or revision procedures
- Permanent injury or disfigurement
Sometimes, a dog bite may take months to heal before future needs can even be assessed. Because of that, and the fact that cosmetic procedures aren’t usually covered by insurance, bringing a claim against the at-fault dog owner may be a person’s only chance to get the compensation owed for potential future medical needs.
Ensure you work with an experienced Philadelphia dog bite lawyer that includes this in your evaluation.
Along with your medical care, you may also need documentation of all your medical expenses related to the dog bite. This includes past, current, and future potential needs (such as scar revisions, cosmetic procedures, etc.). Your dog bite lawsuit settlement evaluation should take into account all your medical expenses, including any ambulance services, medications, psychological counseling, and others.
Ensure you keep copies of all the bills you receive during your care. Turn them over to your attorney so they can keep tabs on how much you need to ask for in your lawsuit to cover the expenses and provide a fair settlement. Document any potential future medical needs and estimated costs so that you can include those, as well.
An attorney also may reach out to any health insurance company to determine the amount of bills paid by a person’s health insurance policy.
If you are injured in a dog bite attack, or if your child is injured and you have to take time off work to care for them, you may lose income as a result. Most people don’t have paid sick time or other paid leave they can use when emergencies happen. They just miss work and the income that goes along with it. That’s why any lost wages should be considered when bringing a dog bite claim.
Whether you missed a day of work, a month, or even half a year, you can make a claim to be compensated for that time. The important factor is whether the wages were lost because of the dog bite injury.
Some people end up losing their jobs after an incident like this. That can allow a victim to seek greater damages for future lost wages because you’re no longer just talking about the money you lost by missing work. You’re also including the loss of your job altogether and the monetary consideration of having to search for new work in the future. This depends on several factors, including the injured person’s ability to work a different type of job, even if it earns less money.
Important Note: If you do have sick time or disability leave and you use it while recovering from a dog bite or caring for a child, you may recover monetary compensation for those benefits because you wouldn’t have taken them otherwise. Talk to your lawyer to learn more.
Pain and suffering damages are one of the most relative claims for damages as part of lawsuit for most people. Pain and suffering, sometimes referred to as non-economic damages, is a claim that attempts to compensate you for the physical, mental, and emotional distress you have gone through as a result of the dog bite.
Physical pain refers to things like immediate and obvious pain from the injury and chronic pain or ongoing issues. What you can recover depends on how severe the pain is and how long it lasts.
The “suffering” part of this compensation focuses on not just the physical pain, but also the emotional trauma stemming from the dog bite attack. For example, a dog bite victim may now be anxious around strange dogs or even worry that his or her own dog could unexpectedly “snap.” Perhaps a victim has emotional distress from the scarring of the attack or the humiliation of disfigurement that keeps that person from leading a normal life.
Psychological counseling services, mental health medications, and other emotional support services may be available to all victims of dog bites and can be included in this category for remuneration.
Wrongful Death from Dog Bites and Attacks
If your loved one was bitten by a dog so severely that it led to their eventual death, you have entered a whole new arena of lawsuit compensation. Damages for wrongful death claims may be significantly more than a simple bite case, depending on the circumstances of the case.
It is rare, but the tragedy does happen. While it is more common in young children, babies, and older adults, even a healthy adult could be killed by a vicious dog. In many cases, the reason for the attack is entirely unknown and often unprovoked.
Pennsylvania law holds dog owners responsible for securing, supervising, and training their dogs to prevent dog bites and attacks on people or other pets. A dog owner may be responsible when they know their dog has dangerous propensities. A dog owner may not be held responsible for their dog attacking someone if there is “extreme provocation.” For example, if someone breaks into your home and a dog attacks, that may not trigger liability. If someone hits or kicks your dog and provokes the dog and the dog in turn bites them in defense, that may also not lead to liability.
However, the owner will be held liable if a dog is unprovoked and attacks any human being or other animal. When you take them to court with Mattiacci Law on your side, you can guarantee that you will recover the maximum damages. And if wrongful death is involved, we will fight to get the settlement you deserve so that you can focus on grieving your loss and getting back to your life.
Another important note is that sometimes a dog owner may be liable for injuries even when that person’s dog doesn’t physically bite a victim. In one recent case, our firm recovered $200,000 for an injured person when a dog charged the victim causing a fall. However, the dog never made physical contact with the victim. The firm was still able to win the case and argue that the dog’s act of charging the plaintiff was enough to cause the fall and injuries.
In another case, our firm recovered $1.3 million in a dog attack case where a dog jumped on and knocked over a victim. The injuries were not focused on bites, but on the fall resulting from the dog aggressively jumping on the plaintiff. So even when a dog does not bite someone, there may be a recovery against the dog’s owner so long as the owner knew the dog had dangerous propensities (to bite, to jump, or to charge people) and the dog in some way harmed a victim.
How to Maximize Your Dog Bite Lawsuit Compensation
Every case is different and the value of each case must be determined on its own merits. When looking at statistics, it is important to note that they cannot accurately determine the value of an individual claim and are merely instructive.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2022 saw over 17,500 dog bite claims in the U.S., with an average cost per claim of $64,555. Unfortunately, recoveries for dog bite victims result from extensive injuries, surgeries, recoveries, and permanent injury or disfigurement.
Pennsylvania alone saw 805 claims, with an average cost per claim of $66,636, ranking the state sixth in the country for the highest number of dog bite injury claims. So, with that in mind, how can you maximize your compensation for your dog bite lawsuit?
As mentioned, your first step should be to hire a reputable dog bite injury lawyer in Philadelphia to help you with your lawsuit. Not only will they be able to walk you through the process and anticipate what to expect, but an experienced dog bite attorney can use that experience to help fight for maximum compensation that may be recovered in a case.
Make sure you document everything and keep detailed records of all expenses, emotional trauma, physical ailments and pains, and other elements involved in your attack so that you can provide it to the courts as evidence of the compensation you deserve. Money can’t change what happened, but it sure can make things easier to handle when you’ve been through a situation like this.
Reach Out to Mattiacci Law and File Your Lawsuit Today
If you or your child has been injured by a dog bite in Philadelphia, you deserve maximum compensation for what you have endured. The team at Mattiacci Law will help you determine just what that is and fight to get the maximum lawsuit settlement. We can evaluate your case, provide you with peace of mind and insight on how to proceed, and take care of the lawsuit while you take care of yourself.
We’ve helped dog attack victims recover millions in damages for dog bite lawsuits. Call us now to find out how we can help with yours.