I Was Bit and the Dog’s Owner Refuses to Pay for my Medical Care. What Can I Do?
Any kind of dog can bite a human victim if it is provoked. In most cases, the dog’s owner is liable for the victim’s damages resulting from the bite, such as medical bills and lost wages due to taking time from work to recover.
Being bitten by a dog can be traumatic. It can also result in severe injuries, such as organ and tissue damage, nerve damage, profuse bleeding, permanent disfigurement, infections caused by the transfer of bacteria from the dog to the victim, and psychological damage such as depression, anxiety, or a phobia of dogs. In some cases, particularly cases where the victim is a young child, a dog bite can result in the victim’s death. If you or your child are bitten by a dog, seek medical attention for the injury as soon as possible. Then, consider filing a personal injury claim to seek compensation for any damages related to the injury, including your medical bills and lost wages. If the bite occurred on the owner’s private property, you may file this claim with the owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If it occurred while you were lawfully on public property, you may file a dog bite claim with the dog’s owner. If the owner is not cooperative, you may have to file a lawsuit to have your case determined by the court.
When is a Dog’s Owner Liable for Damages Caused by a Bite?
In South Carolina, dog owners have strict liability for any damages their dogs inflict on victims. This means that they are liable for dog bite damages even if the dog showed no previous aggression or propensity to bite.
A dog’s owner is liable for a victim’s damages resulting from a bite in the following circumstances:
- If the bite occurred while the victim was lawfully in a public or private setting;
- The bite directly caused the victim to suffer an injury and its related complications; and
- The victim did not provoke the dog into attacking.
Provoking a dog into attacking refers to any behavior that makes a dog feel threatened or frightened. For example, harassing a dog with loud noises or attempting to take a dog’s food away can be considered to be provoking the dog.
How Can I Seek Compensation for my Dog Bite Damages?
If a dog’s owner refuses to pay for your damages, you may need to file a lawsuit and have him or her appear in civil court. During the hearing, your lawyer must prove that you are entitled to receive compensation for your damages caused by the dog bite due to the owner’s negligence. The owner has the opportunity to defend his or her case as well. The dog’s owner may allege that you provoked the dog or that you were trespassing when the bite occurred. Your evidence, such as testimonies from witnesses, photographs of the event, and your medical bills are what you will use to demonstrate that the above conditions are true and that you suffered specific monetary damages as a result of the bite.
Often, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover dog bites. Check with the owner’s policy to determine if dog bites are covered. In some cases, certain breeds are not covered. If the dog’s owner lives in a rental property, speak with the landlord about your case as well to determine if the owner violated the terms of his or her lease by having a dog on the property.
Bring documentation from your own healthcare insurance provider to show the extent of your damages. Your healthcare insurance provider may seek compensation from the dog’s owner for its costs of treating you.
Work with an Experienced Columbia Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are suffering from a dog bite injury, be proactive and start working on your claim with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims is three years from the date of the incident. Although this sounds like a long time, it can go by much more quickly than you expect and leave you unable to seek compensation for your damages. After you receive medical attention for your injury, contact our team of experienced dog bite lawyers at Joye Law Firm to discuss the next steps in seeking compensation for your damages. Your documentation of the incident, your injury, and your quantified damages are critical to taking legal action to seek the compensation your deserve.