Posted on: Jul 24, 2019

Can I Sue if a Dog Bites Me?

While your first concern after a dog bite is getting medical treatment, there will come a point that you’ll think about your rights and whether you can sue for your losses. Your questions are legitimate, and many other victims share them.

According to a March 20, 2019 article published by the National Institutes of Health, an average of more than 337,000 people visit the emergency room every year for dog bites in the US.

Still, not all animal attacks are actionable and your legal options will depend on your unique circumstances. A Mississippi dog bite attorney can describe these cases in more detail, but an overview may be helpful.

The Basis of Mississippi Dog Bite Claims

The state doesn’t have a statute on the books regarding dog bites, so liability arises out of case law. Mississippi follows the “one bite rule,” which means that there are certain facts you need to prove to recover monetary damages:

1.  The dog exhibited some dangerous characteristics or propensity to attack;

2.  The animal’s owner knew or reasonably should have known of these characteristics; and,

3.  The dog’s owner knew or reasonably should have foreseen that it would bite.

Note that the “one bite” terminology does stem from the fact that victims often prove dangerous propensities through a previous bite. However, an actual bite or physical attack isn’t necessary in every case. It’s possible to meet the standard of proof by showing that the dog tends to growl, snarl, lunge, or act viciously towards other people.

Monetary Damages for Your Losses as a Dog Bite Victim

If successful in proving the above three elements, you may be entitled to recover monetary damages as compensation for your losses, including:

● Medical bills you incur for treatment, such as surgery, plastic surgery, an emergency room visit, hospitalization, pain medications, and related care;

● Lost wages, if the dog bite rendered you unable to work;

● Pain and suffering;

● Emotional distress, especially considering the psychological trauma that often accompanies dog bite injuries;

● Scarring and disfigurement; and,

● Many more.

Settling Versus Suing for a Dog Bite Injury

In many cases, you’ll seek monetary damages by filing an injury claim with the company that provides insurance for the dog’s owner – usually through a homeowner’s insurance policy. There are some advantages to settling with the insurer, as you can resolve your claim faster and receive payment promptly.

However, an insurance company may not offer enough in monetary damages to compensate you for your losses. In such a case, your attorney can assist with filing a lawsuit in civil court.

Contact a Mississippi Dog Bite Lawyer Regarding Your Claim

If you sustained dog bite injuries, it’s important to have experienced legal representation to asst with your case. To learn more about your rights and remedies as a victim, please contact the Harris Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a free case evaluation at our Greenville, MS offices. We provide legal services to clients in Washington County and throughout Western Mississippi, and we look forward to working with you.

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