According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million dog bites occur each year, with 800,000 requiring medical attention. Some dog bites are serious enough that stitches or reconstructive surgery are required. In 2018, there were even three dozen fatal dog attacks.
The monetary damages resulting from a dog bite might be used to pay for medical expenditures, property damage, or pain and suffering. The following is a comprehensive list provided by personal injury lawyers West Palm Beach of the monetary damages that a dog bite victim may be entitled to.
What Kinds of Financial Losses Can a Dog Bite Victim Recover?
Victims of dog bites may seek monetary damages to compensate them for the physical and emotional trauma they have suffered. The strength and persuasiveness of the argument will determine whether or not a monetary settlement is possible. It’s worth emphasising that intangible damages like sadness are more difficult to prove because there’s no easy way to quantify them.
A dog bite can cost a lot of money. In 2018, there were only 17,297 insurance claims across the United States, yet many of the injuries were serious. The average dog bite insurance claim this year was $39,017, up from $37,051 the year before.
Medical bills are the most common means to file a claim for damages, owing to the fact that they are the most visible. Because of the strength and might of some breeds, such as pit bulls and German Shepherds, the claims are also relatively costly. While these breeds might be gentle and friendly, if they attack, they are among the most lethal dogs.
Medical expenses might cover both in-hospital and out-of-hospital treatment. Compensation can be obtained if the sufferer can demonstrate that a dog’s bite caused their side effects or injury.
The following are some examples of possible medical bills:
- Treatment with antibiotics
- Treatment in a hospital emergency room
- An emergency medical technician will provide care on the spot.
- Rabies vaccination
- Taking out the teeth of the dog, as well as any dirt or debris from the wound
- Surgical methods for ligament and bone repair
- Shot for tetanus
- Cleaning of wounds
In the worst-case situation, medical expenditures can reach six figures. These cases necessitate extensive care over a long length of time.
If the injury is severe, sufferers may be entitled to compensation to cover the following expenses:
- Medical care for a systemic infection that began with bite marks.
- Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on
Earnings Capacity Has Been Reduced
A person who sustains a permanent injury may be able to file a claim for impaired earning capacity. According to the claim, the dog attack inhibits the victim from earning as much money as they otherwise could. For example, if a dog bites a cellist’s hand and causes lasting nerve damage, the cellist will be unable to play their instrument as well as they once did.
A legal team must prove two things in order to properly claim reduced earning capacities: permeance and effect on employment. Loss of a limb, nerve damage, and disfigurement are all examples.
The second requirement is that the injury must have a clear detrimental impact on employment.
The victim must demonstrate that the attack prohibits them from executing critical skills or functions at work. The victim, on the other hand, does not have to miss work during the trial or negotiations.
Because it is fundamentally uncertain, reduced earning capacity is difficult to win. Expert testimony will be used by dog bite lawyers to make their case. Physicians and economists are two possible expertise.
A physician might offer medical advice on the victim’s status and future health. This type of testimony is especially valuable for injuries that aren’t immediately apparent, such as fractures, muscle tears, or soft tissue injuries. The doctor can tell you if there will be any future symptoms and how probable it is that the damage will be permanent.
An economist will estimate how much money a person could have made over the course of their career. This method necessitates taking into account a number of factors, including inflation and projected salaries in the victim’s industry. They can then calculate how much the victim could have earned in the past and how much they will make now.
Wages that have been lost
If a dog bite is severe enough to warrant medical attention, the sufferer may be forced to miss work. Victims can seek remuneration for lost wages through talks or a lawsuit. Base salary, bonus, commissions, and other benefits are all possible sources of income.
To be successful in a claim for lost pay, the victim must establish that the dog attack caused them to miss work. They must also provide a fair estimate of the entire cost of their request. It’s important to distinguish between lost wages and diminished earning capacity, which focuses on future earning potential.
Lost pay claims are more straightforward in general since they are easy to calculate and prove. Based on previous paystubs, the victim can calculate how much money they would have made per day. Then they can divide the total daily wages by the number of days they missed at work. Medical records proving the victim was in the hospital or had a doctor’s note allowing them to stay at home will be extremely helpful.
These claims are also easier to win because they rely on facts from the past rather than the future. It is highly speculative to calculate compensation for future loss of profits. No one can forecast the future, thus it’s hard to know whether the victim lived up to their full potential, received increases, gained promotions, changed fields, retired early, or pursued another major career shift.
Loss of Companionship
A loss of affection is another term for a loss of consortium. The category of general damages includes proving loss of consortium. To put it another way, there is no measurable method to quantify the monetary value of lost devotion. Several criteria will be considered by the court, including:
The victim’s and spouse’s life expectancy
How much time the couple spent together and how much companionship they received
The living situation. California does not have a set standard for loss of consortium damages, regardless of whether the marriage is stable and joyful.
Suffering and Emotional Pain
This is one of the most difficult claims to win since it necessitates a great level of talent, persuasion, and imagination.
A series of short stories is one method to approach the argument.
These vignettes will depict the victim’s emotional turmoil in the aftermath of the occurrence. A lawyer may, for example, discuss the victim’s unusually untidy dwelling and unkempt appearance as a sign of despair.
Using the “show and tell” method is another option. This evidence could include photos, movies, or personal things from the victim’s life. They will next go over the process and any potential side effects that may occur as a result of this type of damage. Having a physician attest to these claims helps a lot. While the jury cannot see or feel the victim’s emotional distress, they can deduce the extent of suffering based on the evidence.
When it comes to calculating damages for pain and suffering, there is no set formula. Some insurance companies will employ the multiples technique, which involves multiplying medical expenditures and lost income by the perceived intensity of pain on a one-to-five scale. The court would give someone $35,000 if they had $10,000 in expenses and missed pay and a pain rating of 3.5.
A per diem, which means “per day” in Latin, is another option. The per diem method rewards patients for each day of pain and suffering they endure until they reach full recovery. If it took a year for someone to recuperate and the court valued their daily compensation at $100, the victim would be awarded $36,500.
During an assault, dogs may destroy a watch, backpack, pocketbook, sunglasses, or other accessory. When a dog bite victim is riding in a car, the majority of property damage occurs. A motorcycle, bike, scooter, or skateboard are examples of such vehicles. Victims may get a few hundred to several thousand dollars if the dog severely damages the products.
Damages for Punishment
Punitive damages are rarely awarded in dog bite cases. Punitive damages are used to punish a defendant who has engaged in particularly severe behaviour. For example, the defendant may release a vicious dog with the goal of intimidating or frightening the victims.
Punitive damages are used in about 5% of verdicts as a matter of thumb. There has yet to be a Supreme Court decision on the issue of punitive damages. As a result, the monetary sum is left to the discretion of the court.