You may face unexpected medical expenses and other losses if you have been attacked and injured by a dog. You may feel torn about what to do if you are a dog person. Or, if you know the dog’s owner, you may be hesitant to get a lawyer involved. However, you should not be left with significant financial expenses and other losses after a severe dog bite. A Durham dog bite lawyer can help you understand your options and put your mind at ease.
At Kreger Brodish LLP, our compassionate lawyers have protected the rights and interests of injury victims across North Carolina for over a decade. We have established a reputation for tenacious representation and excellent service. We can investigate the incident, help you find the necessary medical treatment, and manage your compensation claim. We take the pressure off you so you can focus on your recovery.
Reach out to us today for a free initial case evaluation with a Durham dog bite lawyer. After that, there is no charge to work on your claim. We only get paid if we recover money for you.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury?
While we often think of dogs as friends and members of our families, even the most well-trained and well-behaved dog can lash out and injure someone without reason or warning. If a dog bites and wounds you, you might be entitled to financial compensation for injuries and losses that you have incurred.
However, you might feel awkward about pursuing a legal claim for a dog bite injury when the dog that attacked you belongs to a neighbor, friend, or family member. While this is an understandable concern, you should remember that the compensation paid out for a dog bite claim is typically paid by the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company of the dog’s owner, not by the owner.
Pursuing Compensation for Dog Bite Injuries
When you have suffered injuries or other harm as the result of a dog bite or dog attack, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your expenses and losses, including for:
- The costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation, including surgeries, prescriptions, and physical/occupational therapy
- Long-term care expenses if dog bite injuries result in permanent severe disabilities
- Loss of wages or income if you miss time from work because of injuries suffered from a dog bite
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma and distress, including PTSD or newly developed fear of dogs
- Loss of quality of life due to disfigurement or permanent disabilities
The “One-Bite” Rule – Responsibility of Dog Owners in North Carolina
Under North Carolina law, dog owners can be held liable for a dog bite injury without the need to prove the owner’s negligence if:
- The dog bite occurred while the dog was running at large in public without a leash violating state law.
- A “dangerous dog inflicted the bite.” A dog may be deemed “dangerous” if it is found running at large at night, if it previously injured or killed a person, or if a court or other government authority has already declared it so.
In other circumstances, a dog bite injury victim will need to prove the owner’s negligence to recover compensation. One of the most common ways to prove negligence in a dog bite case is the “one-bite” rule. Under this rule, a dog owner may be held liable for injuries inflicted by their dog if the animal has previously bitten someone or attempted to bite someone, and the owner knows of their dog’s aggressive or vicious history.
Contributory Negligence in Dog Bite Cases
In some dog bite injury cases, North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule can interfere with victims’ efforts to recover compensation for their losses. Under the contributory negligence rule, an injury victim is precluded from pursuing a claim if they have any share of fault for their injuries.
Consequently, one common defense the dog owner’s insurance company may raise is that the victim provoked the dog into biting or attacking. If the evidence shows that a dog bite victim intentionally or negligently harassed or provoked the dog that bit them, they may lose their rights to compensation.
How Long Do You Have to File a Dog Bite Lawsuit in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, the statute of limitations typically gives you only three years from the date you were bitten or attacked to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you wait too long to take action, you risk having your suit permanently dismissed by the court and losing your right to compensation.
Although the statute of limitations gives you three years to file a lawsuit in your case, you should talk to a Durham dog bite lawyer immediately. Preparing an effective and successful claim for compensation will require extensive legal work on the part of your attorney, including recovering evidence, devising a persuasive argument, and documenting your injuries and losses. You can give yourself the best chance at recovering the total compensation you deserve by giving your attorney as much time possible to prepare your claim.
What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog in Durham
If you have been bitten or attacked by someone else’s dog, you should take the following steps to protect your legal options for pursuing compensation:
- Locate the dog’s owner and notify them that you have been injured from a bite or attack from their dog
- Take photos of where the bite or attack occurred, including evidence that the dog escaped from its owner’s property.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible to have the full extent of your injury diagnosed by a physician and to begin receiving treatment
- Keep records of your medical expenses and other financial losses, including pay stubs or tax returns, to document your lost wages or income.
- Avoid posting about your injuries or your case on social media.
- Speak to a Durham dog bite lawyer immediately.
Understanding Complications from Dog Bite Injuries
A dog bite can result in injuries like lacerations or puncture wounds. These can, in turn, lead to severe complications, depending on the severity of the attack and any diseases the attacking dog may be carrying. Some of the difficulties victims could suffer as the result of a dog attack include:
- Infection. Dogs’ mouths are often filled with harmful bacteria such as staphylococcus, Pasteurella, and capnocytophaga. Tetanus is also a common bacterial infection resulting from dog bite injuries. Dogs can also suffer from a rabies viral infection, which can be transmitted to the bite victim and potentially cause severe or fatal damage to the nervous system if the condition is not treated quickly enough.
- Broken bones. Fractures are typical of dog attacks, particularly in the hands and feet, and can lead to mobility issues and other disabilities.
- Muscle and nerve damage and other soft-tissue injuries. These injuries can permanently reduce strength, range of motion, and fine motor control.
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement. Not only are such injuries painful, but they can diminish the quality and enjoyment of life.
- Death. Fatal injuries are possible if the attack is severe enough, particularly among small children, as dogs can more easily reach vital areas such as the face and neck.
As painful and damaging as a dog attack can be, the complications that can arise after the fact may be worse. An experienced dog bite lawyer in Durham can help you get treatment and demand the compensation you need to recover.
How Our Durham Dog Bite Attorneys Can Help You
If someone else’s pet has harmed you, turn to the Durham dog bite attorneys of Kreger Brodish LLP. We can assist you by:
- Investigating the underlying circumstances of your case, significantly to recover evidence of the dog owner’s negligence
- Collecting documentation to support your claim
- Helping you find specialized medical treatment if needed
- Filing your claims with the dog’s owner and their insurer
- Vigorously negotiating for a settlement that pays you fair and full compensation
- Taking your case to trial if necessary
Don’t wait another day to get the legal advice you need. Instead, contact Kreger Brodish LLP today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a Durham dog bite lawyer.