Maximizing the Value of your Dog Bite Case
Dog Bite Claim's Value depends on How Well the Injury is Documented
In order to receive maximum compensation on your dog bite case, you should be represented by a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling dog bite cases. The value of a dog bite case depends on the severity of the injuries and how well they are documented. Two law firms can handle the same dog bite case, yet achieve dramatically different results depending upon how well the injuries are worked up and documented.
Identify the Dog that Attacked You and Identify the Dog's Owner
After a dog bite, you should immediately learn the identity of the dog so that it can be determined whether you need rabies treatment. You also need to know the identity of the dog's owner so that you can make a claim against that owner.
Report the Dog Attack to the Department of Animal Control
If you have been the victim of an animal attack, you should immediately report the incident to your local department of animal control. In Santa Monica, that means calling the City of Santa Monica Animal Control Unit. An animal control officer will come to the scene, assess the situation, and write a report.
If it is determined that the dog is dangerous, the officer will order that the dog be confined to the premises, pursuant to Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 2.04.280, "Dangerous Animals," which states:
"Upon receiving an affidavit from any person who has been bitten by a dog, cat or other animal or from any person who has witnessed an animal biting a person or another animal, the Animal Control Officer shall investigate. If the investigation reveals facts which tend to show that the animal is dangerous, the Animal Control Officer may notify the person having the care, custody and control of such dog, cat or other animal in writing, that the animal must be kept at all times within an adequate enclosure on the property or premises where such person resides."
If the dog is ordered contained, the dog's owner must comply with Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 4.04.290, "Dangerous Animal Quarantine," which states:
"When a person having the care, custody and control of a dangerous dog, cat or other animal receives a notice from the Animal Control Officer ordering containment of the animal, that person must keep the animal securely restrained on his or her premises either by use of chain attached to the animal's collar or harness, or within an enclosure sufficiently strong to prevent the animal from escaping, until the Animal Control Officer issues a notice releasing the animal from containment. No transfer of the place of restraint can be made without the written consent of the Animal Control Officer. Failure to comply with the Animal Control Officer's order of containment shall be a misdemeanor."
If an animal control officer determines that the dog qualifies as "vicious" under Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 4.04.410, "Vicious Dogs," then the dog must be muzzled and leashed when on public property or unenclosed private property:
"(a) A City Animal Control Officer may issue a written notice to a person owning or harboring a dog to keep the dog muzzled and leashed if the Animal Control Officer determines, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that the dog is vicious or predatory in nature. (b) No person owning or harboring any dog that has been determined to be vicious or predatory shall allow or permit such dog to be upon the public streets, public sidewalks, public parks, or any other public place within the City, or upon any private property which is not fully enclosed by fence or other barrier, except when muzzled and held under leash by an able bodied person…."
Seek Medical Treatment Right Away
If you are the victim of a dog attack, you should seek medical treatment right away. Dog bites pose a serious risk of infection. Any delay in seeking treatment will not only be hazardous to your health but will also be used against you by the dog owner's insurance company, who will contend that you would have treated sooner if it was a serious injury. You should also know that any delays in seeking follow-up care or missed appointments will be used against you by the insurance company.
Photograph your Injuries
Take photographs of all wounds and bruises. Also take photos of any torn or bloody clothing, and any blood on the ground.
Get a Plastic Surgery Consultation for your Dog Bite Scars
Scars are common after a dog bite, and plastic surgery is often needed. To get maximum compensation for your injuries, you should be evaluated by a plastic surgeon so that you can present the insurance adjuster with a doctor's report detailing the extent of your scars and the estimated cost of scar revision surgery. Even if you decide not to go forward with plastic surgery now, you should demand compensation for the surgery so that you have that option for the future. Without a report from a plastic surgeon, the insurance company will not pay you for future plastic surgery.
If you have no health insurance, or cannot otherwise afford to pay for a cosmetic surgery consultation for your dog bite wounds, the attorneys at McGee, Lerer & Associates can refer you to a plastic surgeon in your area who will treat you on a lien basis. A lien means that the doctor agrees to wait to be paid until the case resolves.
Get Psychological Counseling if You suffer Emotional Distress
The victim of an animal attack often suffers psychological harm that can last long after the physical wounds have healed. Nightmares, flashbacks, and fear of dogs are common reactions. You have a right to be compensated for the psychological pain that you suffer after a dog attack. In order to receive compensation for your mental distress, it needs to be documented. Thus it may be advisable for you to get psychological counseling after a dog attack. Our personal injury lawyers can refer you to a psychologist in your area who will treat you on a lien basis.
Contact a Santa Monica dog bite attorney at McGee, Lerer & Associates today in order to maximize the value of your dog bite case.