The days and weeks after a dog attack can be a very confusing time for the victim and their loved ones. Victims who suffer serious injuries from a dog bite often experience a range of emotions, from fear to anger to confusion.
Although these victims understandably want justice and fair compensation for their injuries, filing a lawsuit isn’t a decision to take lightly, and an experienced attorney will likely want to discuss several factors with you before bringing a dog bite lawsuit. In this article, we’ll talk about those factors so you’ll know what to expect when you meet with an attorney about your claim.
The First Question: What Injuries Did You Suffer?
First, any attorney you speak with is going to want to know about the injuries you suffered during the dog attack. Some injuries may be obvious, such as lacerations, bruises, and torn tendons or muscles. These types of injuries can result in permanent disfigurement, expensive medical bills, and lost wages because of missed time at work. Your medical records will be the most important form of documentation in establishing these injuries, which is why it’s critical to seek medical treatment immediately after any animal attack.
Not all wounds from a dog attack are physical, however. Many victims who suffer serious injuries in a dog attack struggle with anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These complications can lead to real damages in the form of lost wages due to missed time at work, lost opportunities, diminished enjoyment of your day-to-day life, and overall emotional pain and suffering.
Evaluating the Circumstances of the Attack
After learning about the extent of your injuries, your attorney will also want to discuss the circumstances of the attack. Under Oklahoma law, dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their pets unless the victim was trespassing onto the owner’s private property or provoking the dog in some unreasonable way.
In other words, were you breaking into the owner’s house, throwing rocks at the dog, or performing some other type of hostile or outrageous act that could provide the owner with a valid defense? If you weren’t trespassing or engaged in some sort of egregious behavior that could reasonably provoke a dog to attack, then the dog’s owner will likely have no valid defense against your injury claim.
How Much Will It Cost to File a Lawsuit?
The cost of filing a lawsuit for a dog bite victim isn’t a huge factor to consider as long as your attorney works on a contingent fee (also known as a “no recovery, no fee”) basis, as we do at Atkins & Markoff. This type of fee policy means that your lawyer only gets paid if and when you receive financial compensation through a settlement or jury verdict.
However, it’s important to realize that even if filing a lawsuit doesn’t cost you anything up front and doesn’t create any financial risk for you, it’s still a time-consuming and involved process. Your attorney will likely want to make sure that you’re mentally and emotionally prepared for the litigation process, which may include giving testimony during depositions and in court.
Looking for Insurance Coverage
Finally, it’s important to look at the dog owner’s available insurance coverage when deciding whether to file a dog bite lawsuit. Even if you’ve suffered severe injuries from a dog bite, you may be concerned about the financial impact a lawsuit will have on the dog owner, especially if the owner is a neighbor or acquaintance. Thankfully, dog bites are usually covered by homeowner’s insurance, which means that any financial compensation you obtain will probably come from the insurance company and not from the owner’s personal assets.
On the other hand, if the dog owner doesn’t have any relevant insurance coverage, it may be challenging to obtain compensation even if you have a strong case. The only real source for a financial recovery in this scenario is the owner’s assets, and unless those are extensive, it may be difficult to recover enough to address your medical bills and other damages.
Please keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list of topics your attorney will want to cover with you when deciding whether it’s in your best interests to file a lawsuit. However, you should expect to at least discuss the topics mentioned above when you contact an attorney for help after a dog attack.
Contact Atkins & Markoff if You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog in Oklahoma
Dog bites can be frightening and traumatic events, and you may not know where to turn for help after suffering one. The experienced dog bite lawyers at Atkins & Markoff have handled cases for many victims in Oklahoma who have suffered serious injuries from dog attacks. We’re ready to listen to your story, and if we’re able to take your case, we’ll fight for you with an aggressive and efficient approach that always puts your needs and best interests first.
If you or a loved one has been attacked and injured by a dog or other animal in Oklahoma, schedule your free consultation with an attorney from the Atkins & Markoff team by calling (405) 607-8757 or filling out our quick and easy online contact form. We handle all personal injury cases on a “no recovery, no fee” basis, so there’s no risk to speaking with one of our attorneys today.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.