The amount of compensation for a dog bite you may be able to recover depends on several factors. In addition to the immediate costs of the injury, it is important to take into account the long-term physical, emotional, and financial ramifications.
Colombo Law can help you pursue maximum compensation for a dog bite. A West Virginia dog bite attorney can calculate the full extent of damages in your case and aggressively represent you in negotiations with the insurance company. If the insurance company won’t compensate you fairly, our firm will not hesitate to prepare for trial and fight for you in court.
Call Colombo Law at 304-599-4229 today for your FREE case review. Our attorneys serve dog bite victims in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.
What Damages Can You Recover for a Dog Bite?
In dog bite claims, damages fall into a few distinct categories:
Economic damages are direct monetary losses. They include both direct out-of-pocket costs, such as past medical bills, future medical expenses, and loss of income. Generally, economic damages form the foundation of a dog bite claim.
Beyond economic damages, you may also be able to recover non-economic damages. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, emotional distress, annoyance, and inconvenience, and permanent scarring and disfigurement.
Finally, punitive damages may also be available in certain situations. Rather than compensating the victim directly, punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant for egregious conduct and act as a deterrent for others. Very specific criteria must be met for you to be awarded punitive damages as part of the compensation for a dog bite.
When preparing a dog bite claim, it is of the utmost importance to fully evaluate both your current damages and any future losses. An experienced dog bite attorney can help with this process, building off their knowledge and experience handling other dog bite and personal injury claims.
How Much Is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Dog Bite?
Economic damages are usually straightforward to calculate. You add up your medical bills, your lost wages, your rehabilitation expenses, and anything else that caused you financial loss or any expenses you are reasonably certain to incur in the future. That total number represents your economic damages.
Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, on the other hand, are not as straightforward. It is difficult to put a price tag on the immediate pain a dog bite victim feels or the long-term anguish they may experience. In some cases, people who enjoyed spending time with dogs may become forever fearful of them after a dog bite, which can make life overall less enjoyable. Some dog bite victims even suffer from PTSD and/or disfigurement, which can disturb their ability to lead a happy, productive life.
While you cannot easily put a price tag on these damages, there are a variety of methods for reaching specific figures. These include:
- Multipliers: Pain and suffering may be calculated by multiplying the cost of economic damages by a number from 1–5 depending on the severity of the losses.
- Per diem: A daily amount is determined for pain and suffering and multiplied by the days the dog bite victim experiences that pain and suffering.
- Other formulas: Insurance companies may have proprietary formulas or undisclosed methods for arriving at a specific number.
There may also be specific local laws or insurance limits that must be taken into account. Regardless, it is important to understand that there is no one accepted method for arriving at the appropriate amount of compensation for these damages. Furthermore, you should never rely on an insurance company to do the calculation for you.
What Is a Fair Dog Bite Settlement?
Ultimately, a fair dog bite settlement is one that compensates you for the damages you have sustained. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not start by offering you a fair settlement. It is common practice for them to begin by providing a lowball offer that is much less than you deserve.
That said, what the “right number” is depends on several factors. First and foremost it depends on your damages. It also depends on how anxious you are for the case to come to a close. If you are in a rush, eager to move on with your life, you may be more willing to accept a lower offer than if you are patient and willing to go through negotiations.
In other words, “fair” is subjective. But you should rely on the experience of your attorney to make sure you are not being taken advantage of.
Do Most Dog Bite Cases Settle?
In every personal injury case, including dog bites, there is the opportunity to pursue compensation by settling with an insurance company or by filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial. Most dog bite cases do settle, meaning the plaintiff comes to an agreement with the insurance company and agrees not to pursue legal action.
That said, dog bite cases—especially those involving serious injuries and substantial damages—may go to trial.
While litigation can take longer and does come with some uncertainty, it may be the only way to recover the compensation you need and deserve. This is why you should always work with an attorney who is willing to go to trial if necessary.
Get Fair Compensation for a Dog Bite
Navigating a dog bite claim can be a challenging task, especially as you try to recover from your injuries and return to life as you know it. At Colombo Law, we understand the frustration and uncertainty you are experiencing. We are here to help fight for your right to maximum compensation for dog bite injuries.
Dog owners have a responsibility to properly restrain their dogs. When they act in a careless, negligent way that results in injuries, we are here to hold them accountable.