Many dogs are excellent human companions, but there are still many instances of dog bites and attacks each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that dogs bite an estimated 4.5 million people each year in the U.S.
Children are particularly susceptible, but any person may become a victim. If a dog bit you or your child, know that you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.
Louisiana Dog Bite Laws
Most states adhere to one of two legal theories in which a dog bite victim can hold a dog owner liable for damages: negligence and strict liability.
- Negligence: Under the negligence rule, dog owners are only accountable for damages when the victim can show that the owner was negligent in the control or restraining of the dog.
- Strict liability: Under the theory of strict liability, a much more victim-friendly rule, the victim has only to show that the dog hurt her; demonstrating negligence is not necessary. In strict liability states, dog owners are responsible for the damages their dog causes.
Louisiana dog bite liability statutes allow both negligence and strict liability grounds. The first part of the article pertains to negligence: The owner of an animal is answerable for the damage caused by the animal only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that his animal’s behavior would cause damage, that the use of reasonable care could have prevented the accident, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. [Louisiana Civil Code article 2321]
The second part pertains to strict liability: “Nonetheless, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages for injuries to persons or property caused by the dog and which the owner could have prevented and which did not result from the injured person’s provocation of the dog.”
Your attorney can explain the best approach to your case.
What should I do after a dog bite?
After a dog bites you, swift medical attention is the top priority. The quicker you tend to the injuries, the lower the risk of complications, scarring, and infections. Doctors can assess and treat the damage and perform surgery or use sutures if necessary. Make sure a medical professional assesses even relatively superficial bites. Bacterial and viral infections can enter the body through wounds. Victims of dog bite injuries are susceptible to infections such as MRSA, Pasteurella, tetanus, and Capnocytophaga spp., so proper care of wounds is essential.
You will also need to contact the animal control to report the incident. The authorities can investigate and find out if the dog is up-to-date on its rabies immunizations. Under Sec. 18-167, the agency must impound the dog and quarantine it for at least ten days.
Next, speak with Cueria Law Firm, LLC, about how to move forward with a claim. In most instances, the best course is to file a complaint with the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company. Most policies will cover dog bite-related damages up to the policy’s limit. However, some insurance policies do not cover certain breeds, and some will only cover one incident per dog.
We can look into the owner’s policy and determine if your damages are compensable. If the insurance company denies your claim, the next available remedy is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner.
What types of damages can I recover under a dog bite claim?
Dog bite cases are much like any other personal injury case. Victims can recover a wide range of monetary and non-monetary damages.
- Medical bills- both current and future surgeries, prescriptions, hospital bills, and follow-ups
- Medically-related transportation expenses
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Long-term disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional harms, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and phobias
- Mental health treatments
- A poor self-body image in people with facial scarring, and the effect that has on their ability to cope socially, function at work, and in their relationships
We can help detail the totality of your losses and adequately portray them to the insurer or courts. The more thorough you are in describing your injuries, the higher the overall value of your claim may be.
How do I prove my claim?
There are two things you need to prove to successfully secure a settlement after a dog bite. First, you need to prove liability. You can accomplish this with eyewitness testimonies, photographic or video evidence, and personal testimony. You can also include physical evidence such as frayed leashes, broken gates, and other proof of owner negligence. If the dog has a history of aggression or attacks, prior animal control records for the dog might be on file, and neighbors may be able to provide testimony. All of these items can strengthen your case. Second, you will need to prove all of your damages to receive compensation for them. Insurance companies train their employees to reduce payouts, so they might try to offer you a settlement that is far lower than what you deserve. You will need to produce bills, receipts, and proof of lost wages to demonstrate your monetary damages. You can also use your medical files and medical and mental health expert witnesses to testify as to the depth and scope of your physical and psychological injuries. Our team at Cueria Law Firm, LLC, can help.
In the interim, you will also want to take pictures of your injuries, which can be very convincing to an insurance adjuster or jury. Keep a daily injury journal as well that documents:
- Your injury and treatments
- Your pain levels
- How your injuries are affecting your day-to-day life
We can use this information to build your case and fight for a full and fair recovery. Our personal injury team at Cueria Law Firm, LLC, handles all nature of cases, including dog bites in New Orleans. Helping victims seek justice and recovery is what we do best. In our 22 years of service, we have helped many Louisianans secure settlements in the aftermath of accidents and attacks. Let us do the same for you.