When Should You Accept a Dog Bite Settlement?
After being bitten by someone else's dog, the dog owner or his or her insurance company may contact you and offer a settlement to compensate you for your injuries. In exchange, you may be asked to pledge not to sue. But when should you accept a dog bite settlement and when should you go to court?
This article provides a general overview of the pros and cons of accepting a dog bite settlement versus taking your case to court. However, it's important to remember that no two dog bite cases are the same, and no two settlement offers are identical. An experienced dog bites lawyer can help you understand how much money you deserve to be compensated for your injuries, negotiate a settlement, and represent you in court, if necessary.
Types of Dog Bite Settlement Compensation
When you're injured as a result of a dog bite, the law allows you to collect damages, or money to compensate you for your injuries. This money is designed to reimburse you for:
- Past, present, and future medical bills for treatment related to your dog bite injuries
- The repair or replacement of any property (such as clothing or eyeglasses) that was damaged or destroyed when you were bitten
- Lost wages for time off from work (including time spent going to doctor's appointments and physical therapy)
- The cost of hiring someone to do household chores that you're unable to do because of your injury
- Permanent disability and disfigurement stemming from the dog bite
- Emotional distress stemming from the dog bite
- Any other costs you've incurred as a result of your injuries
Before discussing your injuries with the dog's owner or insurance company, talk to a dog bite lawyer. Remember that anything you say to the owner or insurance company may be used against you in settlement negotiations.
Evaluating Dog Bite Settlement Offers
An experienced dog bite attorney can help you evaluate any settlement offers and determine whether the proposed compensation is fair. It is important to remember that there are both pros and cons to accepting a settlement offer and to taking your case to court.
Accepting a Dog Bite Settlement Offer
- Pros: Allows a speedy resolution to your case; settlement money is available much more quickly than if you went to court and can be used to pay accident-related bills; allows you to move on emotionally sooner than if you went to trial; may result in lower attorney's fees and expenses; allows the certainty of knowing how much money you'll receive; your settlement agreement can remain private
- Cons: May have to accept a smaller financial award in exchange for quickly resolving your case; may not be as emotionally satisfying than if you won your case in court
Going to Trial for Your Dog Bite
- Pros: You may receive a much larger award in court than if you settled the case; you may get more emotional satisfaction if you win the case in court
- Cons: There is no guarantee that you'll win or receive a larger financial award in court; may result in higher legal fees and expenses; it may take a year or more to resolve your case; offers little privacy because the verdict and judgment will be publicly available
In the end, it is your decision, as the dog bite victim, to either accept a settlement or take your dispute to court. However, you should carefully consider your attorney's recommendation. An experienced dog bite lawyer should be able to tell you:
- Whether a settlement offer is reasonable
- Your chances of receiving significantly more money in court
- The strengths and weaknesses of your case