Do I Need a Lawyer for My Dog Bite Case?
After a dog bite injury, we understand why you might think about representing yourself in your legal claims. You may read that Oklahoma’s dog bite laws hold the owner strictly liable for your injuries and think your case is a slam dunk.
In reality, things aren’t that simple or easy. Keep reading to learn how the dog bite lawyers at Atkins & Markoff add value to our clients’ claims.
Recovering From a Dog Bite Is a Difficult Process
Dog bites can cause significant physical and emotional trauma. You or your loved one might require multiple surgeries along with physical therapy and mental health treatment.
When a dog bites, it can exert dozens or hundreds of pounds of force per square inch, causing serious crush injuries. If the animal shakes its head, it adds shearing forces that may cause further damage and result in trauma to bones, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Damage to your skin and muscles can also lead to permanent disfigurement.
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Infection is another big risk in dog bite cases. If you or your loved one doesn’t receive antibiotics and medications for dog-borne illnesses like rabies, the risk of further complications is very high.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Prevent Infection and Treat Injuries After a Dog Bite
Finally, dog bites can seriously affect your mental health. The trauma of the incident and the severity of your injuries can contribute to anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Without counseling and other treatment, these conditions can make it difficult to complete even simple, everyday tasks.
All these injuries and complications require intensive treatment. And while the treatment process is incredibly important to your recovery and long-term outlook, it can be difficult to balance all the appointments with your other daily obligations. When you add an insurance claim to the mix, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Hiring an Attorney After a Dog Bite Lets You Focus on Your Recovery
The good news is that if the owner of the dog that bit you has a homeowner’s insurance policy, that policy most likely covers dog bite injuries and can provide you compensation. However, your or your loved one’s recovery might already feel like a full-time job. Before you can get any compensation, you’ll have to deal with the insurance company, and that can be an extremely frustrating and time-consuming process. The insurance adjuster’s phone calls and letters demanding forms and information may feel intrusive, and you might worry about making mistakes that will cost you valuable compensation.
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When you work with a dog bite injury lawyer, they take on the responsibility of managing your insurance claim, which means that the insurance company will stop calling with constant, repetitive questions. And you’ll have a trained professional reviewing your forms, making your damage calculations, and fighting for your legal rights. Meanwhile, you can go forward with peace of mind and focus on your recovery.
The Insurance Company Will Try to Take Advantage of Your Inexperience
No matter how kind and understanding the insurance adjuster seems, they are not your friend. An adjuster’s job is to protect their employer’s bottom line. To accomplish that goal, they’ll search for reasons to devalue or deny your claim for compensation. Often, they will raise objections that they know aren’t valid to discourage you from going forward with your claim.
If you’re unrepresented, the adjuster will typically try to take advantage of your inexperience and offer you an unreasonably low settlement offer. At the same time, they’ll try to convince you that hiring a lawyer is an unnecessary expense.
When you hire an experienced and skilled dog bite lawyer, you can rest assured that their only goal is to advocate for you. Your attorney’s job is to give you honest and practical advice and help you navigate the claims process. They will listen to your story, help you identify your claims, and calculate their true value.
For example, a lawyer will typically consider not just your current medical bills and injuries, but also asses how the dog bite might impact your health and ability to return to work in the long term. This process might involve consulting with expert witnesses such as physicians, vocational experts, and psychologists.
And while your lawyer will have to charge attorney’s fees for their time, a good dog bite lawyer should be able to work on a contingent fee basis, which means you won’t owe them any fees unless they help you receive financial compensation through a jury verdict or settlement.
The Insurance Company May Argue That You Were at Fault for Your Injuries
Unlike some states, Oklahoma doesn’t allow dogs a “free bite.” Even if the dog’s owner had no idea that the animal was dangerous, they are liable for damages that result when their dog attacks someone. However, that doesn’t mean that the owner and their insurance company can’t raise defenses in court.
According to Oklahoma law, a dog bite victim can receive compensation for their injuries if they:
- Suffered a dog bite;
- Did not provoke the animal; and
- Weren’t trespassing on private property when the bite occurred.
Sometimes, the insurance company will unfairly argue that you provoked the dog or were trespassing. An injury lawyer can help you overcome these defenses with eyewitness testimony, expert opinions, and a detailed investigation of your claim.
Additionally, Oklahoma’s dog bite statute doesn’t apply in some areas, including certain rural regions and some small villages and cities. In these areas, you must prove the dog’s owner was negligent, and this is a more difficult process. Without a skilled dog bite lawyer, you might make costly mistakes that lead to a decrease in your compensation or even the dismissal of your claims.
Dog Bite Lawsuits Involve Strict Rules and Requirements
As with all injury claims, you must follow legal procedures and meet strict filing requirements when you file a dog bite injury claim. For example, if you don’t file your lawsuit within two years of the dog bite, your claim will become invalid and you’ll lose your right to compensation. You’ll also need to respond to the insurance company’s motions, discovery requests, and other court filings. If you ignore these requests or respond incorrectly, you might seriously harm your case and your chances of receiving fair compensation.
When you work with an experienced dog bite lawyer, you don’t need to worry about all these deadlines and requirements. Instead, you can rely on someone who understands the court’s procedural rules and requirements while you focus on your physical and emotional recovery.
Contact Atkins & Markoff if You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog in Oklahoma
Dog bites can be frightening and traumatic events, and you may not know where to turn for help after suffering one. The experienced dog bite lawyers at Atkins & Markoff have handled cases for many victims in Oklahoma who have suffered serious injuries from dog attacks. We’re ready to listen to your story, and if we’re able to take your case, we’ll fight for you with an aggressive and efficient approach that always puts your needs and best interests first.
If you or a loved one has been attacked and injured by a dog or other animal in Oklahoma, schedule your free consultation with an attorney from the Atkins & Markoff team by calling (405) 607-8757 or filling out our quick and easy online contact form. We handle all personal injury cases on a “no recovery, no fee” basis, so there’s no risk to speaking with one of our attorneys today.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.