What Compensation Can I Recover After a Dog Bite?

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A black dog attempts to bite a man's foot in the snow.

Compensation for a dog bite varies with each case but can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain & suffering, or punitive damages.

A dog bite can be a terrifying experience, even if it only lasts a few seconds because the physical and emotional damage could be long-term. If a dog has attacked you, please seek medical attention immediately and speak with a North Carolina dog bite lawyer about your potential damages.

What Types of Dog Bite Damages Can You Get Compensation For?

  • Medical bills – Even with health insurance, considerable expenses may be associated with treating a dog bite. Some people would need stitches, antibiotics, or even surgery if the injuries were severe.

In cases of scarring, you might also require plastic surgery later on. Besides the actual bite, some dog attack victims have other injuries, such as broken bones, strains, or sprains from being knocked to the ground by the animal.

Additionally, the trauma of the dog bite often causes emotional health issues, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, and more. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and any mental health treatment you need also counts as medical damage.

  • Lost income – If you had to miss time at work after being bitten by a dog, you deserve compensation – even if you used paid sick days or paid time off (you still lost those days).

In rare cases, a person’s injuries may be so severe that they cannot return to work or do the same kind of work. In this situation, we might be able to seek compensation for lost earning potential.

  • Pain and suffering – A dog bite could lead to intense physical pain and emotional distress. Your compensation should include recovery for this pain and suffering.
  • Loss of consortium or companionship – If the dog bite was severe enough to damage your relationship with your spouse, or if they died because of it, you can seek compensation for loss of consortium or the benefits of a relationship.
  • Wrongful death – In extreme cases where a person has died from a dog bite, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Any recovery from this lawsuit will go to the decedent’s heirs.

Should You Sue the Owner for Dog Bite Compensation?

In some cases, yes, but you should first discuss the circumstances of the dog bite with your attorney to learn if this is the right option.

The owner may be liable in certain situations, which we will discuss later. But for many dog bite claims, we might seek compensation from a relevant insurance policy.

For example, homeowner’s insurance sometimes covers dog bites occurring on the property. This course of action may be preferable for several reasons:

  • An insurance claim might be faster than a lawsuit, which often takes months or even years.
  • If your damages come to a significant dollar amount, the dog’s owner may be unable to pay the judgment even if you win your case.
  • Many people tell us that the dog’s owner is a friend, neighbor, or relative, and they would feel bad about suing this person.

For these reasons, many dog bite cases are resolved out of court by negotiating with an insurance carrier. However, since insurance coverage is not always available, your lawyer will carefully consider who is liable, look for relevant insurance, and then explain your options.

Do Dog Owners Have Strict Liability for Dog Bites in North Carolina?

In some states, dog owners are strictly liable for their dog’s bites. In North Carolina, strict liability only applies under the one-bite rule. If the dog is considered potentially dangerous, the owner may be liable for failing to take precautions.

  • The dog has previously bitten a person seriously enough to cause broken bones, disfigurement, or the need for surgery or a hospital stay.
  • The dog has killed or severely harmed a domestic animal outside the owner’s property.
  • The dog has attacked a person in a threatening or terrorizing way when off the owner’s property.

There are a few other circumstances where owners are liable. For instance, allowing a dog at least six months old to roam outside the owner’s property at night or ignoring local leash laws or other ordinances may create liability.

Raleigh requires dogs to be leashed whenever they are away from the owner’s property. That means a dog owner can’t let their dog run free at the park or another public area where it might bite someone (except in purposely designated areas like dog parks).

Because of this rule, the owner may be liable if an unleashed dog bites you at a public place in Raleigh.

Depending on the situation, some dog owners may be liable due to negligence rather than strict liability. Whether or not the owner’s actions qualify as negligence is a question to discuss with your attorney.

Talk to a Raleigh Dog Bite Lawyer Today

If you’ve suffered a dog bite, your priority should be getting medical treatment, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Once you’ve seen a healthcare provider, take pictures of your injuries and call a North Carolina dog bite attorney to discuss your options.

Your lawyer will advise you on any other steps to take, and they will begin working on your case immediately.

Tatum & Atkinson is here to help with your dog bite case. Our attorneys are heavy hitters who have recovered over $100 million in compensation for our injured clients, including many dog bite victims.

We’ll study the details of your case, investigate the dog and dog owner’s history, and recommend the best strategy to move forward. If we take your case, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle it, so there are no upfront fees to worry about.

Please call 800-LAW-0804 today – evidence can be lost quickly in dog bite cases, so the sooner we get to work for you, the better we can help.