Please note: This is not legal advice. These are the opinions of article authors. All content on this site is information of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual.
According to the National Library of Medicine, dogs bite more than 4.5 million people each year, requiring 885,000 people to seek medical attention. Depending on the circumstances and the applicable laws, owners of dogs are liable for the actions of their pets and may need to pay compensation to a dog bite victim for various things like medical treatment, pain and suffering, loss of income, and other damages.
A quick look at some of the main types of compensation the dog owner or his insurance company may be liable for in case of a dog bite.
Expenses for Medical Treatment
If a dog bites you, you will need to spend on medical treatment, including doctor’s fees, diagnostic tests, hospital services, medicines, physical therapy, and even psychological treatment. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, you may claim compensation for treatment aggravated by the dog bite. The general principle for awarding compensation is the cost of all damages arising from injuries inflicted by the dog.
Pain and Suffering
When a dog bites someone, the person will suffer physical and emotional pain that can require extensive treatment. The victim may experience fear of dogs, shock, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and other psychological issues.
If the victim can prove that the pain and suffering will continue for a long time, he can also claim an amount for the distress in the future. While putting a dollar figure to the pain and suffering is difficult, some insurance companies and lawyers calculate it at 1.5 to 4 times the amount of the medical bills and loss of income.
The actual amount of the settlement or award depends on the circumstances of the case. The fight for injury compensation may factor in issues like permanent disability and disfigurement, the age of the victim, and the need for continuing medical treatment.
Because the victim may need to take time off from work after a dog bite for medical treatment and recovery, they are eligible to claim reimbursement for loss of income. They may also be able to claim compensation for loss of future income if the dog bite impairs their potential or capacity to work in the future.
Loss of Consortium
The physical injury or psychological impact, the injuries inflicted by the dog may affect the victim’s ability to have normal relationships, companionship, or physical intimacy. The law permits him to claim compensation for loss of consortium. Some states allow compensation claims for the negative impact on the relationship between a parent and a child if a dog bites one of them.
In addition to the above claims by the victim, the court may also impose punitive damages in case of proven outrageous or reckless behavior by the dog’s owner. The punitive damages intend to hurt the dog owner financially to deter similar behavior. In case, the bite is by a dog declared vicious or dangerous under the “dangerous dog laws”, if applicable, the court may award damages to the extent of twice or thrice the original amount.
The laws also often make owners of dogs pay multiple damages if the dog has a history of biting people.