A dog can provide years of companionship, affection, and love to its owners, but they have the potential to cause damage as well. While most owners take the necessary steps to prevent their dogs from causing harm, accidents do happen, and people often suffer as a result.
Dog bite injuries can cause life-changing physical and emotional harm. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, the Columbus dog bite attorneys at Ross, Midian, & Breitmayer will fight to protect your rights and recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us to speak with a knowledgeable team member and schedule a free consultation with an experienced dog bite injury attorney.
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What You Can Do After a Dog Bite Injury
Your safety comes before anything else, so you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. If the injury is not life-threatening and you have time, you should take photos of the injuries and record any relevant names, addresses, and statements of the dog owners and witnesses to the damage. This information will help your dog bite injury attorney support your claim and increase the odds of winning compensation should the defendant refute your claims.
Once you have seen a doctor, you should call an experienced dog bite attorney to get more information about your case. Dog bite claims can be challenging, but the Columbus dog bite lawyers at Ross, Midian, & Breitmayer can help you recover compensation for any or all of the following:
- Bills for emergency room visits
- Costs for pain and other medication necessary to treat the injury
- Expenses connected to plastic surgery to help address scarring
- Treatment needed to reduce infection
- Lost wages while you are out of work
- Investigating the incident and evaluating the extent of your damages
- Negotiating with the liable dog owner/insurance company
- Gathering evidence in support of your claim
- Preparing your case for trial, if necessary
Proving Liability in a Dog Bite Case
States generally approach dog bite injury cases in one of two ways. The first is with the one-bite common law standard. The one-bite rule favors the defendant. It essentially gives their dog one free bite. In order to present a successful claim in a one-bite state, the plaintiff must prove that the dog caused their injuries and that the dog owner knew or should have known the dog was going to or could have acted dangerously.
Ohio does not follow the one-bite rule and instead opts for the plaintiff-favoring strict liability approach. It is easier to make a successful claim in a strict liability state because all the plaintiff must prove is that the defendant’s dog was responsible for their injuries. It does not matter if the defendant knew or should have known their dog was dangerous because they, as the owner, are responsible for protecting people from their dog regardless of past behavior.
Despite being a strict-liability state, proving liability in a dog bite case can be challenging without the help of an experienced Columbus dog bite lawyer.
Common Dog Bite Defenses
Since Ohio is a strict liability state, defendants and their insurance companies often choose to settle before trial. However, if they refute your claim, they generally do so with one of three types of defenses: trespassing, provocation, and comparative fault.
Trespassing is the strongest defense if the defendant can prove you were on their property unlawfully or without their consent. A provocation defense states the plaintiff provoked the dog in a way that ultimately caused the incident. Witness statements are the strongest way to protect yourself against a provocation defense.
Comparative fault is less a defense than an attempt to minimize damages. Comparative fault seeks to attribute some amount of the fault to the plaintiff. For example, a defendant may claim that the plaintiff provoked their dog and therefore is somewhat responsible for the injuries they sustained. If the plaintiff is then found 20% liable for the dog bite injury, they can only recover 80% of the total damages sought.
The best way to protect yourself from these defenses and recover the compensation you deserve is to contact an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible. The less time that passes between the incident and filing a claim, the more likely it is to be successful.
What if You Know the Defendant?
You may be reluctant to bring legal action against the dog owner if it is someone you know, like a close friend or relative. However, it’s important to remember that most dog owners have homeowners’ insurance. This insurance typically covers dog attacks and bites, and they would be the one responsible for paying you the compensation you need to effectively treat your injuries.
Do not suffer the financial, physical, and emotional damage of a dog bite by yourself. Even if you know the defendant, you should always pursue just compensation.