After dealing with the immediate traumatic effects of a dog bite, it is important that you understand the process of dog bite litigation and one question: how much is my dog bite case worth? It is critical to ensure that you are not responsible for your own medical bills, lost wages, and the damage done by the attacking dog. Unfortunately, as with many legal issues, the value of a dog bite case is not straightforward.
The value of any case depends on many factors. Ultimately, the value of your dog bite case will be decided through either settlement or litigation. Read on to discover the factors that are most important to a judge, and some of the actions you can take now to protect yourself in court later.
Protecting Yourself and Your Case
There are a few practical actions you can take in order to make your dog bite case worth its weight in court. Taking these steps now can ensure a better outcome in court:
- Take pictures of your wounds as soon after the attack as you can. Keep taking frequent pictures during the healing process.
- Write down everything you can recall about the incident, preferably soon after it occurs. Your memory of the attack will be best when it is fresh.
- Make sure to record any issues that you may be having as a result of the bite, including fear of dogs, difficulty sleeping, or other physical limitations.
- Follow all of your doctor’s orders and recommendations. It is important to listen to your physician!
- Contact your local police and Animal Control using our guide to shelters and animal control offices in Maryland
Keeping a complete record throughout the process will allow the insurance adjuster, judge, or jury a realistic picture of what you have suffered as a result of the dog bite. For more detailed information about this procedure, please read our article on what to do if you get bit by a dog in Maryland.
If you feel like you need some legal help, contact our Dog Bite Law attorney to schedule a free case evaluation today.FREE CASE EVALUATION
What Is Your Dog Bite Case Worth?
As mentioned before, many factors play into the potential value of a dog bite case. However, there are a few main categories of damage which will interest the court if you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite. These include current and future economic damages, like medical bills or lost wages, that you faced as a result of the dog bite.
Under dog bite negligence and strict liability in Maryland, the court also looks at factors beyond bills that have been paid. Non-economic damages, such as pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment, are also important. The value of a dog bite case often rests on factors like the permanency of scarring or the emotional trauma sustained by an individual. For example, a facial scar on a young child is usually seen as more damaging than a small bite on an elderly person’s leg.
In Maryland, you may also be awarded punitive damages if the defendant showed actual malice. Put simply, this standard applies only if you can prove that the dog owner deliberately enticed their dog to attack and hurt you. In Maryland, this is very hard to prove.
After you file and litigate your dog bite case, the judge or jury will make a final determination about its value. Each plaintiff, defendant, and injury is unique. This process is complicated, because what may constitute significant suffering to one judge or jury may appear less significant to a different judge or jury. It is critical that you speak to a dog bite attorney who understands these issues so that you can maximize your dog bite case worth.
Your Next Step
If you are asking yourself “what is my dog bite case worth,” there is simply no way to give you a precise answer. Dozens of factors can play into the judge or jury’s final decision about your case. It is very difficult to put a monetary value on suffering. That is why it is so important to have a team of experienced dog bite attorneys on your side. At Zirkin and Schmerling Law, we will make a strong case for fair compensation of the injuries sustained by a dog bite. If you or your loved one is looking to file a dog bite case, please Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our dog bite attorneys.