After getting attacked by a dog, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure about what your next steps should be. It is important to understand that you may have legal options. By contacting a lawyer in your area, you could learn what to expect when filing a dog bite claim in Oak Lawn and proceed with confidence.
Following a dog bite, it is important that a person verifies what insurance company covers the dog so that a lawyer can set up a claim with that company. The claim should remain open until the injured party is released from medical treatment and their lawyer sends a demand for settlement. If the company makes a satisfactory offer, the case can be settled out of court, but if the coverage providers refuses to make an offer or makes one that is unacceptable, the next step would be to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit keeps the claim open until the basis of the suit is resolved.
Sometimes there can be more than one defendant in a dog bite claim. If someone is walking another person’s dog, it is possible for a plaintiff to sue both the dog walker and the animal’s owner. Ownership is not the only factor that dictates whom is legally liable, so in most situations it is advisable to name any potential defendant in a dog bite case. Failure to file a claim against a particular defendant could have serious consequences in the ultimate resolution of the case.
When pursuing a dog bite claim in Oak Lawn, a person may expect to settle. Many dog bite cases settle out of court, but those that do not may require litigation. Still, even among litigations, 95 percent of them settle prior to going to a trial. Thus, a very small percentage of cases are actually heard before juries. During settlement negotiations, the injured party and the insurance company that covers the dog must come to an agreement to end the case, but no one can force two sides to settle. In those rare circumstances in which a case goes to trial, the jury’s verdict decides who is at fault and how much compensation to award.
A plaintiff may decide on a settlement because court cases are time-consuming. Some people are afraid of the court system and do not want to participate, while others may find the court costs to be a concern, especially if the ultimate recovery is low.
If an insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer, an individual has the right to go to court. However, an insurance company could force the plaintiff to prove their damages. One of the steps a lawyer takes at the early stages is to document the extent of the claimant’s injuries. This presents a much stronger case to the insurance company which may require them to pay more money than it was originally inclined to do. In addition, sometimes people feel very strongly about the attack and a trial is the only way to feel justice was served.
In Oak Lawn, there are several factors that someone should expect to impact their dog bite claim. The nature of the attack and the extent of the injuries are major factors because the more serious the injury is, the greater the recovery for damages
Another aggravating factor could be the dog’s history. A dog that has bitten someone in the past will typically result in a greater damages recovery. Previously, an owner was able to avoid liability after their dog bit someone for the first time. Fortunately, this law has changed. Generally speaking, an owner is now responsible even if their dog has never bitten anyone before.
The dog owner’s lawyer may try to minimize the extent of the claimant’s injuries as well as criticize the credibility of the plaintiff’s facts of the attack. Depending on how the attack occurred, and the nature and extent of the injuries, those arguments could be persuasive in reducing or preventing compensation.
An important law that has an impact on dog bite cases is the Animal Control Act. This law describes that anyone who harbors or owns a dog that bites someone is held responsible. For example, if someone is walking a friend’s dog and it attacks another individual, the dog-walker could potentially be held responsible because, at that moment, they were harboring the dog. Because these situations can become complicated, and it is best to speak with a lawyer who could explain how this law applies to a particular case.
If you were bitten by a dog and suffered major injuries, do not assume that a prolonged jury trial is your only recourse for justice. Most cases end up as settlements before ever reaching a court room. Call a dedicated attorney today to learn what to expect if you plan to file a claim for your dog bite injuries in Oak Lawn.