Every dog bite case is different but a dog bite injury claim will be based on two things: how much the jury will think your case is worth and whether the dog owner feels they have a chance of not being held liable. We will discuss some of the factors that are normally considered when valuing a dog bite injury case and what factors might prevent your case from settling.
What are the Legal Requirements Considered in a Dog Bite Injury Claim?
The Owner Knew or Should Have Known About the Dog’s Tendencies
In a state without the dog bite statute, dog owners are only liable for a dog bite if they knew or should have known that their dog had aggressive tendencies. You therefore have to prove that the dog has been aggressive before or has previously bitten someone. Sometimes all you need to prove is that the dog’s behavior changed after going through a particular procedure such as an operation. Animals are known to become snappy or irritable when they are sick, in pain, hungry, etc.
Massachusetts, however, is a strict liability state. This means that the owner of the dog is responsible for any injuries caused by their dog regardless of whether they knew the dog had aggressive tendencies or not. In other words, you do not need to prove that the dog owner knew that their dog was dangerous.
The strict liability rule does not only apply to dog bites; it also applies to other injuries caused by the dog such as knocking someone over.
You Were Harmed by the Dog
You have to show that the dog bite caused you harm. If your injuries were not severe, the amount you will recover in damages will be minimal. The good news is that even if the physical damages were minimal, you will be compensated for pain and suffering. Being attacked by a dog can cause psychological trauma especially if the victim is a young child.
What Might prevent a Dog Bite Injury Case from Settling?
The Dog Owner has a Defense to Your Dog Bite Claims
Dog owners in Massachusetts have two possible defenses when presented with a dog bite injury claim: provocation and trespassing.
The strict liability rule does not apply to you if you were trespassing, breaking and entering or any other civil wrong. It also does not apply if the dog bit you because you were “teasing, abusing or tormenting” it. These are behaviors that will provoke the dog to attack you. If the dog owner is able to prove that you provoked or that you were trespassing, you might not be able to recover any damages.
How Much Your Dog Bite Injury Case is Worth
This will depend on a number of things including:
The Severity of Your Injuries and Extent of Damages
Some damages are easier to calculate such as lost wages and medical bills. If you go to trial, the jury will calculate lost wages and medical bills on the amount you demonstrate you have paid or will continue to pay. There’s usually less room for disagreement on these kinds of damages during negotiations with the insurance company.
For less concrete damages like pain and suffering, estimates are based on awards given in similar dog bite injury cases in New Bedford. The more severe your injuries are, the more compensation you will receive for pain and suffering. If the dog bite only left you with puncture wounds, you won’t get as much compensation. However, if it left you severely disfigured, it will make a much higher settlement more likely.
How the Injuries Impact Your Life
For instance, if you worked as a model and the dog bit you in the face leaving you disfigured, you are likely to receive a much higher amount of compensation compared to someone who sustained puncture wounds on the hand. This is because you relied on your looks to earn a living and any sort of disfigurement or scarring on the face would change that. You may also be able to recover damages based on loss of quality of life.
If you need someone to evaluate your dog bite injury case for free, you can contact Kevin P Landry Law Offices today. We offer free initial consultations. Simply call 508-999-0800 or visit our New Bedford offices today.