If you or someone you love was the victim of a dog bite injury in Charlotte, North Carolina, contact DeMayo Law Offices, LLP to learn about your legal options. We know what your rights are and how to protect them. When you hire us, we’ll fight hard to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve for the pain and suffering you endured. We believe in holding people responsible for their careless actions.
Nearly 5 million people get bitten by a dog every year in the United States. Despite a majority of those resulting in minimal injuries, there are close to 800,000 victims who need medical care each year and approximately 40 fatalities, according to the non-profit group, DogsBite.org.
When a dog bites someone, their teeth could easily break the skin and damage tissue, muscle, tendons, and nerves. It’s a traumatic experience that could negatively impact your opinion of that particular breed or all dogs for the rest of your life.
The Charlotte dog bite lawyers from DeMayo Law Offices, LLP will file an insurance claim or lawsuit on your behalf and negotiate the maximum settlement available. You should be able to hold the negligent party accountable, and we’ll make sure they pay you the money you deserve. To find out more about how we can help you in your dog bite case, call us at (704) 333-1000 today.
Dangerous Dog Laws in North Carolina
Every state has different sets of laws pertaining to dangerous dog breeds and what happens when one bites a person and causes bodily harm. North Carolina statute 67-4.4 states that the owner of a dangerous dog becomes liable for injury or property damage inflicted on another animal, property, or person.
North Carolina statute 67-4.1 defines a dangerous dog as one that:
- Severely injured or killed a person; or
- The municipal board, county, or person responsible for animal control determines it is dangerous because it engaged in at least one of these behaviors:
- Bit someone and caused a disfiguring laceration, broken bone, required hospitalization or cosmetic surgery;
- While not on the owner’s property, approached someone in a vicious or terrorizing manner that signified a potential attack; or
- Caused severe injury or fatality of a domestic animal or livestock on property other than the owner’s.
Charlotte and other cities in North Carolina are also able to enforce their own dog bite rules. Along with state laws, city and town officials can implement rules like requiring the use of a leash or which areas dogs can go into.
If you’re unfamiliar with dog bite laws, it can be confusing. Generally speaking, if there’s an unprovoked attack by another person’s dog and you require medical attention, you might qualify for compensation from the owner of the dog or the property owner’s insurance policy. You must have an injury that resulted in damages, such as a hospital or x-ray bill. You can’t seek a monetary award if you only sustained a small wound that healed without medical intervention.
What Type of Injuries Justify Filing a Claim?
State laws say that you’re allowed to file an insurance claim for an injury or property damage that happened as a result of someone’s dangerous dog biting or attacking you. Most claims will involve an injury instead of property damage. Dog attacks can lead to serious injuries, such as:
- Broken bones
- Lacerations, puncture wounds, deep cuts
- Torn flesh, muscle, and soft tissue
- Rabies, tetanus, or bacterial sepsis
- Impact injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, concussion, back or spinal damage, and cuts.
Injuries like the ones listed above could require a trip to the emergency room. Some people end up needing cosmetic surgery, especially if the dog bit them in the face. Other people suffer from long-term effects like disfigurement, disability, or PTSD.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Dog Bite Claim?
Filing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance company may seem like a straightforward affair, but in order to obtain the maximum compensation possible, you should hire a reputable attorney to review your claim before you submit it.
An attorney can help your claim in ways you may not expect. An attorney is not just someone to write letters or stand next to you in court; we are legal advocates, and it’s our job to assist you in any way possible to get your claim for compensation approved and paid.
Here are some ways hiring an attorney can help your dog bite claim in North Carolina:
- We know the law. We have decades of experience with North Carolina injury law. We know the ins and outs of the entire process and can use that knowledge to make sure your claim isn’t dragged down in procedure or delayed by costly errors.
- We have experience. We have done this before and know the best ways to prepare and present a claim. We have seen it all and dealt with a myriad of injuries and insurance companies. We can use that wealth of experience to help you avoid novice mistakes and legal pitfalls that could delay your injury claim or get it denied on a technicality. Doing it right the first time is important. Because North Carolina has a statute of limitations, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit if you and the insurance company can’t agree upon a settlement.
- They know our name. Lawyers and law firms develop a reputation over time, and this can be a powerful tool. You have to look at it from an insurance adjuster’s perspective: if they receive a well-written letter demanding compensation from an individual, they will assume that you’re handling the case yourself and will act accordingly by either delaying your claim, denying it, or minimizing it in any way they can. If they receive a demand letter from a reputable personal injury firm, they have to change their reaction. Hiring an attorney to assist with your claim lets them know you’re taking this process seriously and you intend to get the compensation to which you’re entitled. They’ll think twice before delaying or denying your claim if they know you have the help of an attorney.
- We know their tactics. Insurance companies and adjusters operate under a single directive: protect their bottom line. They will do everything in their power to protect their customer from liability and keep the insurance company from paying out anything to claimants, including using methods that are questionable or downright dishonest. After you initially file your claim, they may contact you immediately and try to convince you that they are your friend and have your best interests at heart. They may offer a sum of money right away.say they understand how a dog bite can be difficult, and hope you won’t notice that the amount they offer is far less than the amount you’ve requested. They may tell you that hiring an attorney really isn’t necessary or ask why you’d want to split the generous amount they’ve offered with a lawyer when you can take it for yourself. A good attorney will recognize these actions for what they are: tactics to get you to drop your claim against their customer. It’s important to engage legal counsel immediately after your dog bite, before you talk to any insurance adjusters. They will start immediately denying or minimizing your claim, and you deserve someone fighting for you who knows these tactics and the best ways to counter them.
- We can help you request more. Compensation for an injury claim is designed to right the wrongs you’ve suffered as a result of your dog bite. This doesn’t just apply to medical bills or property damage – compensation is intended to cover non-economic losses as well. This means that you may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress. This compensation is designed to help you deal with the trauma of your experience and restore your peace of mind and well-being. When you hire an attorney to assist you, we can assess your claim and help you reach a compensation value that helps fully restore your life – not just an amount that pays for your hospitalization or medical care.
- We carry the burden. If a dog bites you or a member of your family and the wound is severe enough to require hospitalization and make you seek out compensation through an injury claim, you’ve got enough on your mind. Dealing with medical bills and the trauma of the incident itself, as well as having to contend with insurance companies that seek to minimize your experience, can be overwhelming and leave you wondering whether an injury claim is worth the extra effort. When you hire a lawyer to handle your claim, we can take the lead in handling any business having to do with your claim so you can get back to your life. We will investigate the incident, gather evidence and documentation, speak to eyewitnesses, and answer the calls from insurance companies. We will take the lead in building your claim and negotiating a fair settlement for you so that you can get back to recovering and healing from the trauma of your
- We can take them to court. Insurance companies make certain calculations when you file a claim for compensation. They have to determine whether they can get away with offering you a small settlement and keep you from taking your case to court. When you hire an attorney, the equation changes considerably. Taking a case to trial is expensive. Even if they believe they can protect their customer from liability in open court, they still have to spend the money and resources to do so. Often, litigation costs and court fees can end up being more expensive than a fair settlement, which can tilt the odds in your favor. Having an attorney assist with your claim can end up paying off.
Take Immediate Action After a Dog Bites You
- Go to the doctor. Seek treatment at an emergency room or urgent care facility. If necessary, call 911 for paramedics to pick you up from the scene or ask a friend or family member to drive you.
- Keep the dog secured. If a stray dog bit you, block their escape route or find a way to keep them confined to one area so they can’t run away or hurt anyone else. If you know who the owner is, notify them that their dog attacked you and get their contact information.
- File a report. If you’re in a public place, you can ask to speak to the manager and file an incident report. Ask for their name, phone number, and the business’s liability insurance information.
- Call the police or animal control. If necessary, call 911 or animal control. If the injury is severe, law enforcement should get involved. Dangerous breeds with a history of attacking people shouldn’t be in the owner’s control.
- File a claim. You can file an insurance claim for compensation from the dog owner or insurance carrier of the property where the bite occurred. A dog bite falls under the category of premises liability, which means the property owner can be held financially responsible for injuries.
- Hire a lawyer. Contact DeMayo Law Offices, LLP and speak with our Charlotte dog bite law firm. Seeking legal representation increases your chance of winning a settlement. If you choose to pursue the case alone, you risk walking away with much less money or none at all.
The Value of a Dog Bite Case
When you file an insurance claim, the insurance adjuster will review different factors and evidence you submit to them to determine how much money you deserve.
Typically, the more severe the injury, the higher the compensation.
Factors that could lead to a larger settlement include:
- Medical care expenses
- Permanent injury, such as an amputation resulting from sepsis after the attack
- Necessary treatment over an extended period
- Broken bones
- Treatment by an M.D.
- Long duration for recovery
- Diminished quality of life due to missing out on time with family, canceling a vacation, or spending a lot of time in pain
- Prescription medication to relieve or manage symptoms from the dog bite
Factors that could result in a small financial award include:
- Most medical bills are evaluations to diagnosis your injury instead of actual treatment
- Fewer appointments for treatment
- Lack of a permanent injury, disfigurement, or disability
- No emotional suffering due to the dog bite
- Short period spent recovering
- Treatment from non-M.D. providers
- Soft tissue injuries, such as a sprain or bruise
- No prescribed medications
Damages You’re Entitled to After a Dog Attack in Charlotte
If a dog attacks you and you get hurt, you’re allowed to seek compensation for your total damages.
Economic damages are expenses and include things such as:
- Medical bills
- Out of pocket costs
- Property damage
- Loss of income
- Lost future wages
Non-economic damages are intangible losses, such as:
- Psychological or emotional trauma
- Physical pain
- Disfigurement or disability
- Loss of care or companionship
Punitive damages are often the result of negligent or egregious actions. Unlike economic and non-economic damages that reimburse injured victims for their losses, punitive damages aim to punish the liable party. It’s not a common form of damages people receive, but it’s possible if the circumstances of the situation are entirely horrific.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against the Dog Owner?
If an insurance claim isn’t enough, and you believe the dog owner should face financial punishment for their actions that resulted in their dog biting you, it’s your right to do so. To sue the dog owner, you’ll need to follow North Carolina’s statute of limitations for personal injury. Anyone who sustains an injury can pursue civil action against the responsible party within three years from the date of the incident.
If the statute of limitations passes and you haven’t filed a lawsuit, you likely won’t have the opportunity to pursue compensation. You could try to bring the case to court, but the judge will probably dismiss your request because you missed the deadline.
There are, however, some exceptions to the statute of limitations rule. You could essentially pause the “clock” if either of these situations applies:
- You’re a minor, and therefore the clock would not start until you reach 18 years of age.
- The responsible party leaves the state for a period, and upon returning, the clock will begin again.
Common Defenses Used Against Dog Bite Liability Claims
A dog owner residing in North Carolina can use multiple defenses if they get sued for a dog bite injury. If any of these situations occurred, they might not have to face legal action from you:
- The dog bite victim trespassed on the dog owner’s property or tried to commit some type of crime;
- The injured individual assaulted, abused, or tormented the dog; or
- The dog was carrying out its duties as a hunting dog, police dog, or herding dog.
Before you pursue a claim or lawsuit, make sure none of the circumstances listed above apply to your dog bite case. You could end up with nothing if you somehow instigated the attack or were on the dog owner’s property without permission.
Bitten by a Dog? Contact DeMayo Law Offices, LLP
Reach out to DeMayo Law Offices, LLP, a Charlotte personal injury law firm, to find out more about how we can help you with your case. We’ll work hard to recover the compensation you need to pay for your treatment. We know how much you’re struggling; it’s been a financial, emotional, and physical burden ever since someone’s dog injured you. We want to be your advocate and seek the justice you deserve.
Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (704) 333-1000 or fill out our contact form.
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