A person who is the victim of a dog bite attack has a legal right to recover compensation as long as liability can be imposed against the owner or person responsible for the dog. Given this right, the insurance company who is legally obligated to compensate the victim will go to great lengths to either deny the claim or minimize the amount of compensation it has to pay. In fact, most people who enter the claims process are very much surprised to discover just how far the insurance company will go to avoid paying a fair settlement. As a result, there are certain steps that a dog bite victim can take to protect his or her rights and maximize recovery. Or put another way, there are at least nine mistakes that I see dog bite victims make. Committing one or more of these mistakes can have devastating consequences in the legal claim, or significantly reduce the amount of compensation the insurance company is required to pay.
That being said, you should understand that this guide is not intended for people who may wish to bring a frivolous claim or for those who may want to recover an unreasonable amount of compensation for an injury that is minor or insignificant. If you bring a frivolous or unfounded claim, it doesn't matter what you do or don't do because the insurance company will go to extraordinary lengths to defeat that claim. Also, when I say that victims should maximize their recovery, I mean that there are certain mistakes to avoid so you have the greatest chance that the insurance company will pay out the maximum amount of dollars to settle the claim. Here are the mistakes to avoid:
Mistake #1 - Failing to seek medical treatment promptly. If the injury is serious enough to warrant medical attention, then you need to promptly consult with a doctor, or go to your local emergency room. Insurance companies may refuse to believe that the injury is serious unless prompt medical attention has been received. Also, a visit to the doctor will result in the creation of a chart note that becomes a permanent record in the case. The magnitude of the injury, as well as your symptoms, will be recorded by a professional and this information can be used later to prove how bad the injury is.
Mistake #2 - Failing to notify the proper authorities. If you have been bitten, the proper authorities should be immediately notified. This may include the police or the local animal control agency. An investigation by the authorities can produce information and witness statements that may be critical in helping you establish liability against the animal's owner. Sometimes the most important question to answer is, "Who owns the dog?" If you are not familiar with the dog, or if the dog runs away after the attack, then an investigation by the proper authorities may become even more important to your subsequent legal claim.
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