Every year, more than 885,000 Americans suffer from dog bite injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In 1 out of every 5 cases, the bites are reported to become infected, while about 27,000 of the cases require the victim to undergo reconstructive surgery to restore the appearance and function of the affected body area. Moreover, the study has shown that the majority of the incidents occur in and around the dog owner’s home.
Medical procedures and rehabilitation services have become costly over time. Victims are often confused about who they should hold liable to seek compensation to recover damages stemmed from the dog bite. Generally, the dog owner bears the burden of responsibility for the actions of their dog, and are the likely source to compensate the victim depending on the severity of the injury.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Based on the severity of dog bites, injuries can range from mild to disfiguring. It has been found that children in the age bracket of 5 and 9 years are most likely to be the victim of a dog bite. In adult, men are more susceptible to sustaining a dog bite injury than women. Some common injuries that people suffer from due to dog bites include:
- Facial scarring
- Nerve damage
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Puncture Wounds
- Emotional Distress
Different Compensation Options in Dog Bite Injury Claims
If you have been bitten by a dog, you have several options at your disposal to receive compensation for different kinds of damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and others. They may include:
A homeowner’s insurance policy generally covers liability arising from the pets of that household, such as dogs, when the incident takes place on the owner’s property. Over 165,000 homeowner’s insurance claims were filed in 2012 involving dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The damages are covered under Med pay coverage, covering medical bills incurred in treating the dog bite injury. The liability provisions of the policy may provide additional coverage for the victims’ pain and suffering and lost wages. However, in some cases where the injuries are severe, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance coverage may not be enough cover all of the damages suffered by the victim.
Dog Owner’s Liability
If there is no homeowner’s insurance in place or it is not enough to cover the damages, the dog owner may have to pay the victim’s damages out of their pocket. It is a good idea to involve a personal injury lawyer to handle your case so that they prove liability and obtain maximum compensation. Failure to pursue a case may result the victim being responsible for their own medical expenses.
Health Insurance Policy of the Victim
Another option is to make a claim under your own health insurance policy, if any of the above is not a viable option. Your insurance provider may take some time to process your claim, regardless of what measures you have pursued. In case you have made the claim under your health insurance policy and also received compensation from the dog owner, a certain portion of the total amount of the recovery may have to go to your health insurance company as reimbursement. However, this may not necessarily be the case depending on the language of your policy and state laws.
Whether it is through a personal injury case proceeding in a court of law or through an insurance company, dog bite victims are entitled to compensation. It is important to understand your rights under state laws to ensure you get a favorable outcome for your dog bite injury case.