Each year, about 800,000 people will seek medical treatment for a dog bite injury in the U.S. Of those injured, the vast majority are children.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, our Lake Charles injury lawyers will help you understand your legal rights and pursue financial recovery. Below, we detail the steps one should take following a dog bite/attack.
What to Do If You’re Injured
If there’s bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth. Regardless of what the wound looks like, seek medical attention immediately. Dog’s saliva carries bacteria that may cause a dangerous infection.
Once safe and medical attention has been administered, write down what you remember in as much detail as possible including how the dog behaved. Take pictures of the injury and any property damage. Copies of medical bills and records will also help you.
Next, find the owner and get their contact information. You should also ask if the dog is up to date on vaccines.
Lastly, report the incident to animal control or the police as soon as possible to prevent the dog from injuring someone else.
Louisiana Dog Bite Laws
An owners’ liability for injuries their animals cause is based in negligence. Specifically, dog owners are liable for damages if:
- The owner knew the dog could injure someone
- The dog injured someone
- The owner failed to exercise “reasonable care” to prevent the injury; and
- The injured person didn’t provoke the animal
In other words, the plaintiff (victim) must be able to prove that the owner was negligent in some way and that negligence directly led to the injury.
In Louisiana, plaintiffs found to be partially at fault for the incident (i.e., provoking an animal, trespassing, etc.) may receive less compensation or no compensation at all, depending on the circumstances.
Dog bite laws cover other animal injuries as well. For example, a dog can also cause a dangerous fall, which can result in a range of injuries beyond a dog bite.
Louisiana laws also discuss dangerous dogs, which must be constrained or confined at all times.
Dangerous dogs are defined by statute as a dog that:
- on two occasions within a 36-month period injured a person or killed an animal while off their owners’ property
- on two separate occasions behaved aggressively toward a person who had to take action to prevent injury; or
- bit and injured someone without provocation
If the dog that bit you was an unrestrained, dangerous dog, criminal charges may be filed against the dog’s owner who will receive a fine of $300.
Lastly, victims should not delay action if they wish to pursue compensation. Plaintiffs have one year from the date of injury to file a lawsuit, according to Louisiana’s statute of limitations.
When Do You Need a Lawyer?
Many homeowner’s insurance companies will cover dog bite claims. If you’ve been offered a settlement by an insurance company that covers all your bills and damages, you may not need a lawyer.
However, insurance companies want to settle a claim quickly, and they want to pay as little as possible. You may need a lawyer if you’re offered less than your expenses.
Working with an attorney can also help you understand the nuances of relevant laws and statutes so you can better understand the value of your case. If you don’t know what your case is worth, how can you know if the settlement is fair?
In other cases, you might need a lawyer because you suffered injury or losses that go beyond what the insurance company is willing to pay for (i.e., emotional trauma, etc.).
Retaining a lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suing the dog’s owner; it means that you have someone on your side with legal expertise to help you resolve your claim. If an agreement can’t be made, only then would a lawsuit be initiated.
Contact Our Louisiana Dog Bite Lawyers
At the Cox Law Firm, we have years of experience fighting for our clients, and we aren’t intimidated by insurance companies or red tape.
Our lawyers have won some of the largest judgments in Louisiana history. With extensive experience handling dog bite cases, we know the questions to ask and steps to take to make sure your rights are protected.
For more tips on Louisiana laws and how they affect your family, ‘like’ the Cox Law Firm on Facebook