Being bitten by a dog can be a frightening and painful experience. But for many people, the thought of bringing forward a personal injury claim and going against the owner of the dog who attacked is nearly as nerve-wracking. This is especially true if the owner of the dog is a friend or family member. Should you try to handle the issue privately with them before you contact a dog bite lawyer, or should you go to a lawyer first?
The Risks of a Private Agreement
While it may seem easier to simply agree to let the owner of the dog compensate you privately for the injuries you have sustained, you take on a lot of risk by doing so. There’s nothing holding the dog owner to the agreement you make, so if they decide to stop paying, you have little recourse. With a court claim, on the other hand, payments are typically made by the insurance company. Even if the owner is financially responsible him or herself, compensation is overseen by the court.
In addition to not being paid at all, you also run the risk of not being paid enough. If your hospital bills are very high — for example if you required surgery or emergency medical treatment — the dog owner may only want to pay a portion of it. They may want to only pay what your health insurance doesn’t pay, which puts the burden of financial responsibility on your insurance company versus on the owner.
Additionally, there are many more damages suffered by a dog bite victim than hospital bills. It’s unlikely that you will be able to reach an agreement with the dog owner to compensate you for pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages that courts typically look at.
It May Not Be Too Late to Call an Attorney
If you’ve already attempted to resolve the issue with the owner of the dog, if you haven’t accepted payment or signed an agreement of any kind, you can likely still contact a lawyer. You may still be able to if you signed an agreement since it was likely an informal one. If you’ve accepted payment, however, your chances of success may be lower. It’s still worthwhile to reach out and consult with a dog bite attorney regardless of your situation.
Contact Zink & Lenzi Injury Lawyers today to learn more about your legal options. Call now at (530) 895-1234.