How To Win Your Dog Bite Case

Are you suffering major injuries and want to know how to win your dog bite case? Read our tips on how we can help you, then call our lawyer.

Choosing The Right Dog Bite Attorney

How To Win Your Dog Bite CaseIn our firm, we actually get inquiries about dog bites a lot more frequently than I think people would think, especially during the warmer time of the year, because statistically more dog bites happen during that time. We particularly have been involved in some cases that I would say go beyond a dog bite to a dog attack, where dogs have attacked sometimes grownups but particularly children, which is quite frequent. Actually, young children are the number one victims of dog attacks. The question has been asked of, “How do I choose the right attorney in a dog bite or dog attack case?”

When you’re looking for an attorney in that type of case, it is similar in process to what you want to look for with any type of injury case. First of all, you are bringing a claim for personal injury. A lot of times in dog bite or dog attack cases, the injuries can be very severe, especially when children are involved. The first thing you want to look for is someone who, on a general level, handles personal injury cases regularly, who has experience handling personal injury cases. I can tell you from experience, dog bite and dog attack cases are typically litigated more often than other injury cases just because the insurance carriers, the defendants who own the dog, oftentimes are more apt to dig in and defend the case. Part of that is financial because there are typically significant damages at stake. The other part of it is because they as dog owners are sometimes indignant and emotionally tied to their dog – “It wasn’t the dog’s fault, it was your fault,” – and the insurance carriers see that as an opportunity as well to dig in and defend the case and fight the case to try to reduce the amount of damages that they have to pay.

In my experience, dog bite cases get litigated more often than other types of cases, so it is important when choosing at attorney that you’re choosing an attorney who regularly litigates personal injury cases on a general level and personally pursues personal injury claims on a daily basis, because they’re going to know the ins and outs of proving liability, proving damages, and getting you maximum value for your case. More specifically, dog bite cases are nuanced cases. What I mean by that is you don’t prove up a dog bite case the same way that you prove up a car wreck case or a medical malpractice case or others. The way that you prove up the case is by bringing in the right type of experts as well as the right type of evidence that you’re going to be looking for in support of the claim.

I think something that people should look for and is really helpful are attorneys who have actually had dog bite cases— attorneys who have actually worked up and litigated dog attack cases, and who have had success doing that. At the Brad Morris Law Firm, we have handled a number of these cases and we’ve had some really great success with them, sometimes dealing with some very horrific and difficult situations. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a dog attack, we’re here to help and answer your questions. You can reach out to us by phone or through our website, and we’ll try to get you on the right path, get you the answers you need, and get you the help you need.

After a Dog Bite Injury

If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite incident or a dog attack, particularly here in Mississippi, there are a few things that you should think about first and foremost. First off, if you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog or been involved in a more serious dog attack, the first thing to do is get the medical attention that you need. Everything else can wait.

Again, first and foremost, get the medical attention that you need. We want you to get better. Frequently in dog attacks the injuries are a lot more than a little snippet on the ankle. We have seen situations where people have been attacked literally within an inch of their life. We’ve seen horrible disfigurement. We have seen situations where people die, and it happens more often than we’d like to admit. These can be very serious, catastrophic injuries, even near fatal situations in which vulnerable people or children are viciously attacked by dogs. Get the medical help that is needed, first and foremost, and continue that medical treatment until the doctors say otherwise. First and foremost, we want people’s health to be protected.

The medical treatment and the ongoing treatment as doctor’s direct are also important from a legal standpoint because it helps create that record of the injury and what the victim is dealing with. From a legal standpoint, eventually we would go back to those records to be able to show the extent of the injury, what the prognosis is for the future, and develop a plan where there’s going to be ongoing treatment in the future and what that plan of care is going to look like. Get the medical treatment you need and get the ongoing treatment as your doctor recommends.

At some point, invariably, if the dog owner is responsible for these attacks – and they usually are – attention is going to turn toward the legal claim. The first thing to keep in mind in a dog bite case, or really any personal injury case, when you start thinking about the legal aspects, is that there are very strict time limits for bringing a claim. When we’re talking about personal injury claims, and dog bites fall into that, most states have a strict, spelled-out time period for when the claim can be brought. Here in Mississippi our general statute of limitations, as it’s called, is three years. Most dog bite and dog attack claims fall within that three-year statute. That time period can be affected by other circumstances.

The easiest example I can give is when children are involved. Sometimes we can get that extended because of the minor. The important thing to understand is that you don’t want to toy around with that time limit because, if a claim is not brought within the statutory time period for bringing a claim or filing a lawsuit, then you forever lose your right to file that claim. You will not be able to bring the claim or resuscitate it, and the claim will be forever barred, preventing you from getting paid. Those time limits are very strict. They’re very harsh if you miss them, so you don’t want to do that. Don’t wait on bringing your claim.

The third thing that is really important is, when you do start thinking about the legal aspects and pursuing a claim against the at-fault party, it’s really important that you have legal representation helping you. I can tell you from experience with multiple dog bite and dog attack cases over the course of my career that these types of cases are unique. The way that you pursue a dog bite or dog attack case is different than the way you pursue a car wreck, a slip and fall, or a medical malpractice case. It is its own unique type of claim, and you really need not just legal representation but legal representation that handles personal injury claims on a regular basis— representation that has some experience and a track record of success with these particular types of cases. There’s a number of aspects to a dog bite or dog attack case that are just different in how you approach them, from the type of evidence that you’re looking for to the type of experts involved and other legal considerations. Looking for an attorney to represent you that has a track record and experience with those types of cases is very important.

Particularly in a dog bite case versus other types of cases, it’s all the more important that you just don’t talk to the insurance company for the other party or try to deal with the adjusters on your own. That’s a recipe for real problems for yourself. With all of that, kind of summing it up, if you or a loved one are involved in a situation where you’ve been the victim of a dog bite or dog attack, get the medical help you need. When you start turning to the legal aspects, absolutely get you legal representation. Make sure that you’re getting legal representation that has some experience and a track record of success, not just in litigation of personal injury claims but in litigation of dog bite and dog attack claims. Do not try to talk to that adjuster for the other party or the insurance company on your own. If you focus on these things, it’ll get you on the right track to getting compensated and treated fairly on your claim.

I’m Brad Morris, with Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC. If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite or dog attack injury, or any other type of personal injury, we’re here to help. Reach out to us through our website or give us a call. We’ll try to get you pointed in the right direction and get you the help you need.

Dog Owner Doesn’t Have Insurance

A question that comes up sometimes in dog bite cases or dog attack cases is, “What if that dog owner does not have insurance? What do you do with a claim like that here in Mississippi?” The answer is, first of all, we’re going to assess that situation from top to bottom. Sometimes, people say they don’t have insurance, but they actually do.

The first step in that situation is to make sure that you don’t just take them at their word, and that you’re actually exploring every option for available insurance coverage against the party who owns the dog who caused the injury. That’s not just true in dog bite and dog attack cases, that applies to a lot of personal injury cases. We all know insurance companies like to hang on to their money and if they can find a way to deny coverage or reduce the value of the claim, they’re going to do that. Sometimes that includes just denying the coverage exists or denying that coverage applies to a given situation, even though it may.

In a situation where a dog owner is liable but does not have insurance, there are still a couple of avenues to look at in terms of the victim getting properly compensated and recovering. One avenue is looking at your own insurance. There are options and avenues where you potentially may have coverage available to you through your own homeowner’s policy, depending on where it happened, but also through other policies that may apply to that situation. Was the person who was injured on the job at the moment, for instance? Workers’ comp may come into play if that person attacked by the dog, for instance, was checking the water meters, or if they were there on the property for business purposes such as repairing a roof or doing some other type of work.

The other option beyond your own insurance or other insurance coverage, that may come into play outside of that defendant, is to just proceed with the claim and obtain a judgment through trial or verdict, and then collect against that judgment on the responsible party. That could involve garnishing wages, attaching assets, and ongoing collection efforts against them. Once you have a judgment in place, there typically is, in most states, a time period for collecting on that judgment. In Mississippi, that is typically seven years. The good news is once you enroll that judgment, if you haven’t fully collected on it at the end of that seven years, as long as you don’t let it expire, you can oftentimes go back and renew that judgment to extend it for an additional seven years, and you just continue that process in order to collect on them.

That’s where good investigative work really comes into these cases. Dog bite and dog attack cases are a great example of where investigation really matters. It involves looking for the insurance coverage and the ability to pay for the claim that has to be done on the front end. It’s not just coverage that that defendant has or says they have or don’t have, it’s actually digging a layer deeper under that of what’s available and looking to the next level to see if there’s other coverages out there that may apply to the situation. If there’s no insurance coverage, it’s looking to other assets that can be collected upon or collected against in the event of a judgment.

All of that, though, really requires legal assistance. There’s just virtually no way that a person can do that on their own without legal help, and not just run-of-the-mill legal help. You’ve really got to have someone involved who does litigation regularly, someone who has some experience and a track record of success on these dog bite and dog attack claims, and experience collecting judgments and running down the insurance. Here at Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC, that’s what we do. We have a record of success to show that. If you have any questions, just reach out to us through our website or give us a call. We’ll try to get you pointed in the right direction. Whether it’s a dog bite claim or some other type of personal injury, the main thing is we want to try to get you the help you need.

Beware of Dog Signs

When we’re dealing with dog bite cases or dog attack cases, the question often comes up, “What about the Beware of Dog sign?” Whether the dog owner had one or didn’t have one, the client always wants to know how that plays into the claim. It can vary. Most of the time, a Do Not Trespass or Beware of Dog sign ultimately has very little impact on the outcome of the case. That’s not to say they’re insignificant or they’re totally irrelevant, but, it’s just that, normally in my experience in dealing with dog bite and dog attack cases, the other factors and other facts in the case tend to play a much larger role in determining liability and certainly in determining damages and determining fault than those types of signs. The reason for that is, usually, almost without fail, and certainly in the cases that I have seen or been around, whether there were signs or whether there were not signs, the dog bites or dog attacks usually take on one of two scenarios.

In the first scenario, the dog left the dog owner’s property and attacked someone off property, in which case, the signs are completely irrelevant. It was the dog that left and attacked them. In the other scenario, the person who was attacked, the victim was a guest of that dog owner on their property. In other words, they were invited over or asked to come onto the property, either as a social guest or as a business guest. Think of someone there to perform some type of maintenance work, checking the meter on their house or socially just for a visit, such as children coming over to play.

In those situations, even with the signs there, factually and ultimately what determines the outcome of the case is not the sign and not the victim seeing or not seeing a sign, or knowing or not knowing about the dog or the history of the dog, but much more on the dog owner and the history of the dog, the dog owner’s knowledge of that dog’s breed, of that dog’s past behavior, of prior incidents involving the dog, signs and signals of an aggressive behavior or violent aggression towards humans that that dog has exhibited. All those things come a lot more into play normally in these cases than the ‘Beware of Dog’ sign. Normally the signs aren’t there until after the bite or the attack happens, but, even when they are, it’s these other factors that typically have a lot more impact on the outcome of the claim than a sign.

It’s a great question that comes up a lot in these cases, but hopefully that helps answer any outstanding issues or questions people have about that. As with any dog bite or dog attack case, each one stands on its own unique set of facts and there’s multiple levels of complexity to those cases. Even if it seems like a simple case, there are typically multiple levels of complexity in dog bite and dog attack cases, from the damages to proving liability and apportioning fault that really require experienced counsel being involved.

At the Brad Morris Law Firm, we have had some success litigating these cases. We’ve been involved in some cases that had really sad and almost catastrophic injuries involved; sometimes these cases even involve death. We’re available through our website or through our phone to try to get you on the path to justice and a full recovery. If you, a family member or loved one have been the victim of a dog bite or dog attack, reach out to us. We’ll try to get you pointed in the right direction and answer your questions.

Qualifying a Dog Bite Injury

On the subject of dog bite and dog attack cases, we’ve handled a number of them at our firm. A question that often comes up is, “How do I know if I have a qualified dog bite claim, particularly here in Mississippi?” The quick answer to that is, if you were attacked by someone else’s dog, what we want to look for are the things showing that that owner had some knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensity. That’s kind of the gold standard here in Mississippi in these types of cases.

A lot of times people mistakenly call that the “one-bite rule”, meaning that if the dog hasn’t ever bitten anyone before or attacked anyone before you can’t prove liability on that owner. It’s as if to say the dog basically gets one “free bite” without getting them in trouble or getting the owner in trouble, and that’s just not true. That’s not the law here in Mississippi, and that’s now how it works. The reality is, most of the time where there is liability for a dog bite or dog attack, there are any number of warning signs, any number of indications and past events with the dog that actually did give that owner a warning about the dog’s aggressive nature, about their dangerous propensities that end up leading to a finding of liability on that dog owner.

The only way really to sort that out is digging into the details of the case, the history of the dog, and the history of the dog owner and then looking at how all that comes together and interplays with the victim. Oftentimes, the nature of these cases is such that neighbors or family members are the victims. It’s people who know the dog owner or know their dog. It’s not always a stranger. More often than not, the victim is someone who has had some prior interaction or relationship with the dog or dog owner, and all of that comes into play. What type of dog is it? What’s the history of that particular dog? What is the history of that particular dog owner? What’s the history of the dog and the dog owner with the victim?

The only way that you’re really going to get to the bottom of all that and really get a good read on the case is by having someone involved in your representation that has actually worked one of these cases before. You need to understand the nuance of the law in Mississippi, if it’s a Mississippi case; if it’s in another state, you need someone who has worked through those types of cases but also digs into and understands the rules in that particular location because they do vary. The laws on dog attacks, dog bites, and owner liability has evolved differently across the states, so it’s important to understand what those local rules and local laws are. You just can’t do that without digging into the details of the particular case.

Reach out and contact an attorney that not only litigates personal injury claims, but who has some experience litigating cases involving dog bites and dog attacks because the laws are going to be unique. They can dig into the specific facts of your case to really do a full assessment of the claim. At the Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC, we have had success pursuing dog bite and dog attack cases, particularly in some situations that were really bad attacks involving catastrophic injuries. We’re here and available through our website and through our phone number. If you have questions or just want to inquire about a situation involving a dog attack on you or a loved one, give us a call and we’ll try to answer your questions and get you the help that you need.

Were you or a loved one injured from a dog bite in Mississippi and have questions about how to win your dog bite case? Contact the experienced Mississippi dog bite injury attorney, Brad Morris, today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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