Here is what you need to know… Dealing with the aftermath of a dog bite can be extremely traumatic. No doubt you are angry, in pain, wondering how on earth you will afford the medical bills, and where you will find the time to deal with insurance companies along with their endless red tape and paperwork.
You may be dealing with an uncooperative dog owner, who you suspect isn’t going to compensate you for your injuries without a fight. I speak continuously with dog bite victims, and I can tell you that you are not alone: dog bites send hundreds of thousands of people to the emergency room every year, half of them children.
Number one mistake made by dog bite victims
The number one mistake made by dog bite victims and their families is deciding to go it alone, and not seek the help of an attorney experienced with dog bite cases.
The sad truth is, many of these dog bite victims never see a dime in compensation for their medical bills and lost wages, or for their pain and suffering. Scars from an animal attack are more than physical: many dog bite victims suffer lasting emotional damage, as well, and may develop a permanent fear of dogs. Surgeries resulting from the bite(s) are often deemed “cosmetic” and unnecessary by unsympathetic insurance companies, forcing the victim to pay out of pocket for treatment. There goes your savings.
Myths about hiring an attorney to represent your claim
The biggest myth about hiring a dog attack attorney is that you will have to pay upfront for his or her services. This is false. My law office will not see any compensation unless you do. We will consult with you for free to determine if you have a case, and if you do, we will aggressively and vigorously represent your claim, acting on your behalf with all parties involved, including the insurance company, the dog owner, animal control and any witnesses.
Many dog bite victims have no idea that they are even entitled to compensation. They obliterate their retirement fund, their children’s college tuition money and their savings, in order to cover the cost of their treatment. This is a tragedy, and a completely preventable one. An experienced dog bite attorney in Las Vegas can ensure that you receive maximum compensation for any expenses, including future surgeries.
You should know that, in fact, most homeowners and renters’ insurance policies cover dog bites, however, many dog owners are unaware of this aspect of their policies. You cannot rely on a dog owner to be helpful or forthcoming with you. Hearing from your attorney is often what is needed to induce their cooperation.
Don't deal with the insurance company directly
If there is one thing I could strongly urge all dog bite victims to never, ever do, it’s dealing with an insurance company alone.
Even though the insurance company representative assigned to your case (called an “adjuster”) may seem kind and caring, in truth, there are many layers of hierarchy above this person who you will never speak to, and who are not in any way sympathetic to your claim. They are corporate employees there to represent the interests of the insurance company, and its shareholders.
The more money they pay out to claims such as yours, the less money goes to shareholders and the bottom line.
I can assure you that these faceless corporate employees are much more motivated to take your case seriously when you have an attorney representing you. Your claim will be reviewed alongside the identical claims of people who did take the time to hire an attorney, and guess who is going to get pushed to the front of the line?
Crucial action steps to take after a dog bite
- Get contact information (names & addresses) of the dog owner and any witnesses. If the dog was not with its owner, get contact information for the person who had custody of the dog at the time of the attack.
- Get dog license information for the dog that bit you, if possible.
- Get photos of the wound, before medical treatment! A picture is worth a thousand words, and graphic photo evidence of your injuries can be powerful evidence with insurance companies and court cases, should a lawsuit be filed (I will do everything in my power to ensure that this isn’t necessary).
- Get medical treatment for your injuries – it is extremely important that your wounds are documented by a medical professional. This is will be used as evidence with your claim. If you have facial wounds, insist on seeing a plastic surgeon. Emergency room doctors are skilled at saving lives, not necessarily in making your injuries look good. You don’t want your face to be hastily sewn together by a medical school graduate whose coming off a 24-hour shift.
- Take all medications exactly as prescribed, and follow any instructions from your physician.
- Pay a visit to the animal control office in your area and file a report. The hospital will make their own report, but their motivation is not to help your case, rather to keep statistics on injuries and diseases. You want to talk to the animal control office directly: doing so will help your case, as they will assist in identifying the dog owner and interviewing witnesses. You want these people to know who you are, and to be on your team.
If you get a call from an insurance company, this means that the dog owner has insurance (this is good news!). This is the point at which you want to ensure that you have an experienced attorney who fully understands the law regarding dog bites in Las Vegas to represent your claim with the insurance company.
The sooner you bring in an attorney, the better your chances for receiving maximum compensation: you want the incident, and all the important details, to be fresh in your mind. Your attorney is there to ensure that an indifferent insurance adjuster, to whom you are just a number and a file, understands exactly what happened and the extent of your injuries. This may involve retrieving specific paperwork from the hospital where you were treated. An experienced dog bite attorney will know exactly what to do.
Your interaction with the insurance adjuster should be extremely limited. Whatever you do, do not sign anything! This includes anything presented to you by any party involved in the case, from the landlord to the dog owner to the insurance company. You want your lawyer to handle all paperwork on your behalf. Establishing liability in dog bite cases can be complex, and laws vary between jurisdictions. You can seriously hurt your chances for compensation if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person.
Pain and suffering from animal attacks can be intense. Trying to handle all the intricacies of your claim when you are in this heightened emotional state is unwise. Do not wait to get an attorney working on your case.
Please consider setting up a free consultation with our law firm, Day & Nance right away. I will bring 25 years of experience in the Las Vegas and Southern Nevada area to your case, and will do everything in my power to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.