Not all dogs are dangerous, but there are a few that are, and in these cases, the dog’s owner usually knows it. In some cases, the dog is dangerous because the owner failed to properly socialize the animal. In other cases, some owners have been known to train their dogs to be aggressive, creating a hazardous situation for neighbors and visitors to the animal’s home.
There is no question that being attacked by a dog is a terrifying ordeal. Many attacks are vicious and can involve the tearing of the skin and muscle. Most victims require extensive medical procedures to treat their physical wounds as well as continued treatment for the emotional trauma you can’t see. Even with treatment, physical and emotional scars may never fully heal.
Some of the saddest cases we deal with are dog attacks on children. Dogs can inflict life-changing injuries on children, and many small children across the US have been permanently injured and killed by dogs. Families that experience these tragic events are often left wondering what they can do to recover and how they can hold dog owners accountable for the injuries their pets cause.
Helton, Cody & Associates is a team of experienced Hickory dog bite attorneys who can provide the compassionate and responsive legal representation you need after you or a loved one has been injured by someone else’s dog. North Carolina enforces strict liability for dog bites, meaning a dog’s owner is entirely liable for any damages their pet causes to others. If you are unsure how to proceed after a dog attack in the Hickory, NC, area, our team can provide the guidance and support you need in this challenging situation.
Anyone can become a victim of a dog attack, from children to adults. At Helton, Cody & Associates, PLLC, we make sure victims receive compensation for their injuries no matter how old they are, and that the dog’s owner is held liable for his or her negligence.
During a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys, we carefully evaluate a victim’s injuries, whether they were serious in nature or resulted in a person’s death. We then determine the level of danger the dog presents, its breed, and whether the owner knew or should have known about the danger but failed to correct the problem.
If the dog’s owner was at fault, we would seek compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, scarring, lost income, and even punitive damages. If the victim was bitten by the dog while doing their job, we could help the injured worker seek workers’ compensation benefits as well.
If another person’s dog caused an injury or death, you might think their liability is clear, and you would have little difficulty showing that they’re accountable for your damages. However, the reality is that even seemingly straightforward dog bite cases can pose significant legal challenges. The average person who has no formal legal training would likely struggle to meet the procedural demands of the Hickory, NC, civil court system. A missed deadline or incomplete court filing could create substantial delays in the court’s handling of the case, or the case may even be thrown out of court on a technicality.
Even if the plaintiff manages to succeed with a dog bite claim without legal representation, they could potentially overlook available channels of recovery and settle for less compensation than legally deserved. Do not make an already difficult situation even harder for yourself by trying to manage your recovery and your legal case on your own. Working with a Hickory dog bite lawyer will allow you and your family to recover with peace of mind while a capable legal team handles your case proceedings. When you choose Helton, Cody & Associates to represent you, we will provide timely updates as your case unfolds and ensure your claim meets all applicable procedural requirements with the civil court.
Hiring an experienced Hickory dog bite attorney is an investment in the quality of your recovery. When facing expensive medical bills, the inability to work, and the emotional distress that often follows dog attacks, it’s vital to secure reassurance from an experienced legal team that can help you recover as fully as possible.
Some states in the US enforce “one bite” rules that provide legal protection to dog owners the first time their pets attack people. After “one bite,” the dog is considered dangerous, and the owner would be strictly liable for any damages their dog causes after this first incident. North Carolina does not enforce any such law and instead imposes strict liability on dog owners for injuries and damages their pets cause to others. This means that it does not matter if a dog owner knew their dog was dangerous to others or if the dog had no history of attacking people. If another person’s dog injured you, the owner is strictly liable for all resulting damages.
It’s important to note that there are conditions for strict liability to apply. First, the victim must have been legally present at the location where the dog attack occurred. This means they must have been on private property with the property owner’s permission to be there, or they must have been on public property when they were attacked. Trespassers and intruders cannot file civil claims against dog owners. Dogs can protect their homes and their owners from perceived threats and intruders, and their owners are not liable for injuries they cause in these defensive acts.
Second, you must not have provoked the dog by attacking it or its owner. Again, dogs will protect themselves and their owners when they perceive threats. For example, if you assaulted a person while they were walking their dog and the dog savagely bit and injured you, you would not have grounds to assert strict liability for your damages since you instigated the incident. After their dogs injure others, dog owners facing civil suits commonly assert provocation as a defense. If you were lawfully present where your dog attack occurred and did nothing to provoke the dog, your Hickory dog bite lawyer could help you disprove such allegations.
When most people think of dog attacks, they imagine painful bites. However, bite-related injuries are typically only one consideration for this incident. Dogs’ teeth are somewhat sharp and easily capable of tearing a victim’s flesh, but they also bite down with a tremendous force that can cause puncture wounds and crushing injuries. Dogs will also thrash once they have clamped down on a victim, tearing open the skin and potentially causing life-threatening bleeding. These severe bite incidents can easily result in traumatic soft tissue damage, broken bones, and excessive bleeding.
In addition to the damage a bite can inflict, large dogs can also cause victims to fall, potentially resulting in secondary injuries from hitting the ground. For example, a dog may knock a victim to the ground, causing the victim to hit their head and sustain a traumatic brain injury. Victims may also break bones when they fall or suffer internal organ injuries.
Dog attacks can easily result in tremendous physical harm, but they are also psychologically scarring for many victims. Experiencing a dog attack can be a severely traumatic experience that can potentially result in many adverse mental health problems for the victim. Many dog attack victims will struggle with excessive fear of dogs after these incidents and experience high anxiety levels in certain situations. It is also common for them to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, victims of dog attacks may incur substantial medical bills for treatment their physical injuries require and ongoing medical costs for the mental health treatment they need to psychologically recover from their experiences.
Your Hickory dog bite lawyer can potentially help you recover much more compensation than you initially anticipated with a civil claim. North Carolina law allows a personal injury plaintiff to seek compensation for any damages a defendant’s actions caused. The strict liability rule for dog owners in North Carolina requires all dog owners to take reasonable precautions to prevent their dogs from injuring people. When they fail in this responsibility, even if they had no reason to believe their dog might attack someone, they incur liability for the victim’s damages.
Your dog bite claim can potentially help you recover:
In addition to these economic damages, a Hickory dog bite lawyer can also help you recover compensation for your pain and suffering. Attorneys use various methods to calculate appropriate pain and suffering compensation for their clients. In many cases, a plaintiff’s attorney will calculate the total economic damages and then seek the same amount in pain and suffering. They may multiply this amount by two to five to reflect the severity of the plaintiff’s experience. Dog attack injuries resulting in permanent disabilities are more likely to generate substantial pain and suffering compensation than those that only result in minor injuries that heal entirely with time.
Pain and suffering could form the bulk of your total case award when you have the right attorney handling your case. A Hickory dog bite lawyer can help you gather evidence and documentation that proves the defendant’s liability for the incident and establishes the full scope of your claimable damages. In addition, some defendants may face punitive damages if they were grossly negligent in handling their dog or if they intentionally provoked or commanded their dog to attack the victim.
When you must take legal action against the dog owner that injured you, your case unfolds through the civil court system as a personal injury action. Most personal injury claims filed in North Carolina settle outside of court through private negotiation between the parties involved in the claim. A swift settlement is beneficial to both the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff can typically secure their compensation much faster than a trial would allow, and the defendant can put the situation to rest more quickly.
However, for settlement to succeed, both parties must be willing to negotiate. For example, if the defendant disputes their liability for the dog attack, they may demand a trial. It’s also possible for the parties to agree to a settlement but ultimately fail to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, prompting them to take the case before a judge.
If your dog bite case goes to trial, the judge overseeing the case will have the final say on the issue. The judge will evaluate the arguments from both sides of the case, review physical evidence, and listen to witness testimony. They will also evaluate the damages sought by the plaintiff to ensure they are fair and reasonable. The litigation process can take several months or even more than a year to complete for more complex cases. By comparison, it’s possible to settle most personal injury claims within a few weeks.
If a dog has fatally injured a loved one, you and your family would have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim against the dog’s owner. While similar to a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim is different in a few critical ways. First, while a personal injury claim seeks compensation for a victim’s damages, a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the surviving family’s loss, not damages incurred by the deceased’s estate. A successful wrongful death claim can help the family secure compensation for funeral and burial expenses, lost financial support provided by the deceased, and pain and suffering compensation for the family’s loss of affection, care, guidance, and moral support the deceased provided.
If the deceased did not die immediately from their injuries, their estate likely incurred damages, including medical expenses and lost income. In addition, they likely experienced tremendous pain and suffering before their death. These losses cannot be sought through a wrongful death claim. Still, the family can recover compensation for estate-related damages through a survival action filed in tandem with their wrongful death claim. The damages included in a survival action generally reflect those the deceased could have included in a personal injury suit had they survived.
Dog attacks can be tremendously damaging, and it is even possible for some dogs to carry infectious diseases. Aside from the risk of rabies, which can be fatal if left untreated, and the need to recover medical costs because of a serious dog bite, victims of dog attacks should speak to an attorney right away because of our state’s statute of limitations. This time limit for filing personal injury actions is generally three years from the injury. This may seem like plenty of time to file your case, but it’s always best to initiate legal proceedings as soon as possible to ensure the freshness of evidence and reliability of witness testimony.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed because of a vicious dog, you could seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our North Carolina lawyers, contact our Hickory law office by calling 828-328-9966 or toll-free at 888-321-0494.