Dog Bite Settlements in California
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Dogs can be man's best friend and, in some cases, a threat to the well-being of others. Dog bites happen for a variety of reasons and having a dog attack dispute lawyer in Los Angeles assist with your case can be the difference between a reasonable settlement and not getting compensation at all. Understanding the factors that determine your case can help you to decide if settling is the right course of action for you to take.
Factors That Impact Compensation Amounts
Any experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles can give you a reasonable idea of what you can expect to receive in compensation for the case that you have. In many cases, this is determined based on several factors of the case. These include:
- If the dog was aggressive and the owner knew it.
- If the injuries are long-term or disfiguring.
- The age of the dog bite.
What Is A Settlement?
Most dog bite cases in the state of California end in a settlement. Therefore, it's important that you fully understand what a settlement is. A settlement is an agreed-upon resolution between the victim and the owner of the dog regarding a compensation amount. In most cases where the dog's owner has a pre-existing homeowner's insurance policy, their insurance company will be in charge of setting and paying the settlement amount.
When the victim and the dog owner come to a conclusion about the settlement price, documents are signed. These are drawn up by legal professionals to ensure their validity. When the injured party is compensated, they drop the case against the owner of the dog. Everything is legally settled outside of court with the help of your legal counsel.
What Type Of Compensation Can A Victim Get?
An attorney that is well-versed in cases pertaining to unforeseen puncture wounds, will make it clear to you that compensation is meant to make you whole again. Essentially it's a total estimate of the number of financial damages that would put you back into the position you were in before the dog bite occurred. Some of the most common types of compensation include:
- Lost Wages
- Lost Earning Potential
- Pain And Suffering
- Medical Bills (Both Future And Past)
- Health Insurance Deductibles
It's important that you enlist the help of a skilled lawyer for settlement disputes when determining the compensation amount that you'll settle for. As part of the agreement, you would drop the case against the owner. You may not resume the case later down the road once the settlement papers are signed. This means that if you didn't get enough financial compensation to pay for medical bills, you can't go after the owner of the dog post-settlement.
How Does A Settlement Get Underway?
The settlement process is best defined as a series of discussions between you and the owner of the dog. This will usually happen shortly after the case is filed. You may find yourself in discussions in the days leading up to the jury deciding a verdict. Each case is different in how long the settlement discussions go on until an agreeable amount is decided on.
Initial Settlement Offer
In many cases, the dog's owner will have homeowner's insurance. Therefore, the insurance company will provide you with an initial settlement offer. You should always have this reviewed by a lawyer to ensure that it's in your best interests. In most cases, the first offer from the insurance company is not even close to the compensation that you rightfully deserve. Don't get caught up in the allure of having instant money to pay for medical bills. You'll likely find yourself short-changed later on down the road.
Demand Letter Issuance
If you refuse the initial settlement offer, your attorney will send a demand letter to the insurance company. This is essentially a letter of intent letting them know that you do plan on filing a lawsuit against the insurance company. In most cases, the insurance company will provide another settlement offer at a more reasonable amount. You can choose to accept this or proceed with your case.
Filing A Lawsuit
Sometimes the insurance company or the dog owner, depending on who you're specifically dealing with, will not provide you with an adequate settlement amount. Therefore, you'll need to have your lawyer file a lawsuit against them. This is where evidence is collected and more settlement discussions may be underway. As more evidence is uncovered to support your case, the insurance company or dog owner may offer you a larger settlement amount.
You can accept a settlement amount anytime throughout the entire process. You may find it in your best interest to take a set amount and drop your lawsuit. It may take multiple settlement offers from the insurer before you agree upon an adequate compensation amount. You can agree to any offer they submit to you up until the jury comes out with a verdict for the case. Once a verdict is read, there is no more possibility of a settlement.
Tips For Getting A High Compensation Amount
You'll want to ensure that you maximize the amount of compensation that you can get from your settlement. To do this, there are two main actions you'll want to take. First of all, you need to get full medical care from a respected medical expert. This works to ensure there is a paper trail that states the losses and suffering you have undergone. Without medical documents, everything you bring to the case is speculation about your injuries.
Second, you'll want to hire a well-respected lawyer that is familiar with the law, what cases are worth, and how to go about getting you a high settlement amount. It's never a good idea to try and go your case alone as insurance companies tend to offer lower settlement offers to unrepresented victims.