Utah Dog Bite Attorney
If you recently experienced a painful dog bite injury, don’t worry, you are in the right place. At Christensen & Hymas, we are the experts on dog bite injuries, and have literally written the book on Utah dog bite injury law (See link at end of page). We interact with and assist real victims every day, and know that the period after a traumatic attack can be uncertain and stressful. That is where we can help you.
Dog bites often come at unsuspecting times, and can be extremely harmful and traumatic for the victims. For children and adults alike, severe dog bite injuries can result in physical scars, emotional damage, expensive medical treatment, and lost wages due to time away from work. However, if you have suffered serious dog bite injuries, you do not have to go through this process alone. A Utah dog bite attorney here at Christensen & Hymas can answer confusing questions and help you file a successful personal injury claim to recover compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Loss of earnings and future earnings
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Pain and suffering
Though we cannot offer specific legal advice outside of a consultation, the information provided here may help answer some pre-existing questions.
Dog Bites By the Numbers
With millions of dogs being kept as pets in the United States, it is no wonder dog bite attacks occur so frequently.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year, and over 800,000 of those bite victims require medical attention.
Other important statistics to know about dog bites include:
- 1 in 5 dog bite victims require medical attention
- Children are bitten most often and are more likely to require medical attention
- Senior citizens are the second most at-risk demographic for dog bites
- 60% of dog bites take place in the owner’s home
- 77% of victims are family members or friends of the dog’s owner
Dog bites happen on a daily basis, and can affect the lives of both children and adults. If you find yourself a victim of such an attack, a Utah dog bite attorney can help you determine who is accountable for your injuries.
Information courtesy of the American Veterinary Medicine Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Image “Beware of Dog Sign on Brown Fence” courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net. The image is in the public domain.
What Type of Dogs Attack?
A common misconception is that only certain breeds of aggressive, untrained dogs cause serious bite injuries. This couldn’t further from the truth. While certain breeds such as pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, and others do have a tendency to be more consistently aggressive, any dog has the potential to attack at any moment.
Dogs attack for many reasons. Though some breeds are more easily angered than others, any dog can attack if it is provoked or feels threatened in some way. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommend that you do not:
- Approach an unfamiliar or stray dog
- Disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies
- Play aggressively with any dog
- Allow young children to play with a dog without supervision
Any dog can attack. That includes “nice” or “well-behaved” dogs that may belong to your neighbors or family members. Remember, just because the dog is not known to be aggressive or dangerous does not excuse the owner from responsibility for a dog bite accident. If you have been bitten by ANY dog and sustained injuries, we recommend that you speak with a Utah dog bite attorney to discuss your options.
Suggestions courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
8 Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
If you are the victim of a dog bite and have serious injuries, you are eligible for personal injury compensation as long as the dog’s owner was liable. When recovering, this compensation may be vital as it can help you pay expensive medical bills and feel secure while you are out of work. That being said, you should consider taking these steps after your dog bite accident to avoid making a mistake that could compromise your personal injury claim.
- Seek immediate medical attention
- Our top priority is that you are ok. Make sure to go to the hospital immediately after a serious dog bite.
- Get the dog owner’s contact information and any information of the witnesses
- This information can be extremely crucial to your case, as witnesses can help prove who is liable for the attack. You will also want to be in contact with the owner so we can work directly with them.
- Notify the police
- The proper authorities can legally document that the event took place, which provides some validity to your case. This report can also prove liability against the dog’s owner. Although you may be afraid that something bad will happen to the owner or the dog by reporting this to the police, failing to do so could harm your case.
- Take photos of your injuries immediately
- If you have sustained serious injuries as the result of a dog bite accident, you need to photograph them immediately and continually throughout the healing process. If you can prove that your injuries were in fact severe, the compensation you receive from your case may be increased.
- DO NOT give the insurance companies a recorded statement
- Do not give a statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company until you have spoken to an attorney. Depending on your statement, they may try to reduce your claim or completely deny it.
- Document everything
- Do not rely on memory to make your case. Because such a case could take many months to settle, you need to document everything throughout the process. This includes photographs of your injuries, medical records, proof of correspondence with the insurance companies, contact information, police reports, and anything else that is relevant. If you think it could be useful, hang on to it.
- DO NOT accept a quick settlement from the insurance company
- It is in the insurance company’s best interest to pay you as little as possible. Therefore, they will attempt to offer you a quick settlement shortly after your injury. Though this may seem generous at first, it is likely much less than you are entitled to. These quick settlements do not take future medical expenses or lost wages into account.
- Speak with an experienced Utah dog bite attorney
- Because the insurance companies will attempt to settle too quickly for too little, we recommend that you speak with a Utah dog bite attorney before you settle anything with the insurance company. Although they will attempt to persuade you not to hire an attorney, doing so could increase your injury compensation by a significant amount.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
The timetable to file a dog bite injury claim varies from state to state. This is called the statute of limitations. In Utah, a dog bite victim has 4 years from the time of the accident to settle or file a claim. For children who are bitten when young, this time frame only begins when they turn 18 years old.
Although 4 years seems like plenty of time, we recommend that you speak with a Utah dog bite attorney soon after your injury to start the process. We will likely be able to resolve the case within a year, but the most important thing to us is your recovery. Medical bills will surely mount up, and we want to help you get the compensation you need and deserve as quickly as possible.
How Do I Prove Liability?
Fortunately, it has become much easier for Utah dog bite victims to prove liability and be compensated for their injuries. Even so, there are several important factors that you should be aware of when proving liability for your accident.
U.C.A. (Utah Code) 18-1-1
- This Utah law is very important for your dog bite case. Though most states give dogs and owners a so called “free bite,” this law holds the owner responsible for ANY injuries that may occur. This is important because you do not have to prove that the dog has a vicious history or record of other attacks. One bite is the limit.
Check if the dog’s owner has homeowners or renters insurance
- If the dog owner possesses one of these two types of insurance, filing a case becomes a lot less messy. This is particularly beneficial when the dog belongs to a close friend or family member. If they have this insurance, you will not have to file a case against them personally.
- As is the case with all types of accidents, you do need to be sure that you were not at fault for the accident. If you intentionally provoked the dog in any way by hitting, kicking, or taunting it, the dog owner will likely not be held liable. In that situation, you will not have grounds to file a personal injury claim. An important part of proving liability is also proving that you were not responsible.
Image courtesy of Christensen & Hymas.
What Will a Personal Injury Claim Cover?
Insurance companies will always try to minimize your settlement as much as possible, and perhaps deny it altogether. Though their initial offer may seem generous right after your accident, this settlement is likely insufficient to take care of your needs.
The first offer may be enough to cover some initial medical expenses, thus giving you a false sense of security. However, these payments generally do not take into account expenses for future complications and other things related to your injury. Although they will claim that you do not need to speak to a Utah dog bite attorney, we highly encourage you to do so. A successful personal injury claim will not only compensate you for your immediate medical expenses, but can also help pay for:
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent complications from disfigurement or disability
Do not let the insurance companies persuade you to make a hasty settlement. Speaking with a qualified Utah dog bite attorney may not only substantially increase the amount of your injury compensation, but can also facilitate your recovery process by doing the hard, stressful work for you.
Image courtesy of Christensen & Hymas.
Contact a Utah Dog Bite Attorney Today
At Christensen & Hymas, we work with real accident victims on a daily basis who have been through traumatic experiences, just as you have. Dog bites are extremely common, and can result in scarring injuries that may put you out of work and leave you with expensive medical bills that you can’t pay. We can help.
If you have been seriously injured in a local dog bite incident, contact a Utah dog bite attorney at Christensen & Hymas today and schedule your free consultation. Allow us to get you the compensation you need and deserve while you focus on the recovery process.
For more information on Utah dog bite injury law, click here to request a free copy of our handbook.