6 Ways to Lose a Dog Bite Insurance Claim
Insurance companies place unreasonable obstacles before injured victims. Let our dog bite lawyers move them.
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean all of them are friendly towards strangers. Even if a dog looks harmless or adorable, you need to remember that its jaws and teeth carry the potential to cause significant injury, infection, or even death.
On average, dog bites kill an average of 31 people every year and injure nearly 4.5 million. Most of these fatalities are children. Because of this serious problem, Missouri has its own set of dog bite laws. However, although the state’s laws make sure that owners are responsible for their dogs’ actions, insurance companies are always on the lookout for ways to deny claims.
Considering the high cost of medical care, you can’t afford to make any mistakes that could prevent a full payout for recovery, healing, and other expenses. Missouri itself has one of the highest rates for dog bite insurance claims. Below, the Dixon Injury Firm lays out a few of the most common pitfalls dog bite victims fall into when dealing with these traumatic cases.
#1 Delaying Medical Treatment
If your dog bite injury is serious enough to warrant medical attention, you should immediately seek treatment. Aside from ensuring that your wound receives the best care and remains free from infection, reports from hospitals and receipts act as evidence for the severity of your injury. Insurance companies will always try to show that your wounds weren’t that serious; however, with records, you can rest easy that you’ll get the reimbursement you deserve for all of your medical treatments and bills.
Two issues concerning dog bites that you should take note of:
- Scarring: Dog bites can leave notoriously devastating scars. Because of this, you should immediately consult with a plastic surgeon to ensure all of the proper steps are taken to reduce any visible scarring.
- Infection: Infection is another concern. Often, dogs are carriers of disease and bacteria. What may appear to be a minor bite may become infected, leading to additional problems.
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible following a dog bite to head off any future problems. The Dog Bite Lawyers in St. Louis at the Dixon Injury Firm have experience in these cases, with scarring, and reimbursement.
#2 Not Notifying the Proper Authorities
If you’re attacked by a dog, it’s important to notify the police or animal control as soon as possible. These authorities will collect information and witness statements that will help you establish liability against the dog’s owner. Through detailed investigation, the authorities are able to help you locate the dog’s owner and hold him or her responsible for the actions of the canine. Additionally, promptly notifying the authorities will spark an investigation leading into whether the dog has ever injured anyone else before. Again, notifying and reaching out to authorities may save someone else from suffering a dog bite injury.
#3 Not Taking Pictures of Your Injuries
The clicé “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies to personal injury cases and dog bites. You need to take pictures of the wound, especially since you’re entitled to pain and suffering, medical bills, and other reimbursement associated with the recovery process.
Costs linked to correcting scarring, disfigurement, and future damages carry more weight when you’re able to provide pictures of the wound. If the wound heals before the settlement, a picture can accurately reflect the full extent of the dog bite injury. Remember: Insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying full reimbursement. Provide pictures to avoid being undercut by these companies.
#4 Providing a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
You’re likely to meet the dog owner’s insurance representative if they are insured. However, as an experienced dog bite lawyer, I know how damaging a recorded statement can be. Avoid providing said statement. An insurance company will try to use the statement (which may be inaccurate depending on the severity of your injury, especially if the victim is a child) against you. They may be able to show minor discrepancies and errors.
After a traumatic event like a dog bite, your primary focus should be recovery. Insurance companies frequently use partial or inaccurate information to poke holes in your story to reject claims or reduce the amount of compensation. A recorded statement may be useful under particular circumstances. Be sure to contact an attorney first to make sure you’re making the right decision. The personal injury lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm are able to undertake independent investigations to ensure you’re not falling for any of these malicious tactics used by insurance companies.
#5 Signing Insurance Forms and Medical Authorizations
An important point I like to make clear to clients is this: Anything that comes from an insurance company before they decide to pay and settle is probably not going to help your case. You should never sign any forms or medical authorizations from these companies. These documents may be used to protect the insurance company’s client and used as ammo to build a case against you based on minor details, such as an inconsistency in your medical history. The information contained in medical records is highly protected and sensitive, and the last thing you want to do is provide accidentally incorrect information that could hurt your case.
Over the years, I’ve seen large insurance corporations do everything in their power to subvert a reasonable payout. After sustaining an injury, such as a dog bite, your main focus is and should be recovery. The trick is this: If another person’s negligence caused said injury, any complications shouldn’t get in your way to a healthier, better life.
#6 Not Hiring a Lawyer
You should never hesitate to hire or at least contact a personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies will throw everything they have against you, whereas a dog bite attorney will make sure any information you have works in your favor. You need to bring on an experienced dog bite lawyer to both maximize your reimbursement and ensure a smooth, quick case. Reimbursement includes medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of comfort of life and career opportunity, lost wages, scar revision surgery, and other expenses.
Trust me when I say that insurance companies know when a person (such as yourself) is unrepresented and files a lawsuit on their own. Because of this, insurers will make a low offer to see if you’ll accept it. Without a dog bite lawyer, the insurance companies have nothing to lose by offering you an easy payout to keep you quiet. Especially if your case is lumped into another dog bite statistic.
Here are a few questions you should ask when you start looking for a dog bite attorney:
- What are your qualifications? Be sure to ask a potential lawyer about his or her (and their firm’s) qualifications and past successes. Any qualified attorney will gladly show you without hesitation.
- Do you have time for my case? Is the lawyer overworked, or perhaps nearing retirement or only takes particular cases? A lawyer with a decent amount of “free” time will be able to take your case more seriously.
- How long have you been working on dog bite cases? Another good question. Experience is everything when it comes to battling insurance companies. Make sure your lawyer of choice knows what he or she is doing! Law isn’t easy.
- How many cases do you settle out of court versus the number of cases you take to trial? Any lawyer worth her or her salt will be able to answer this honestly without hesitation. Cases settled out of court are preferred given the speed and (usually) obvious victory against insurance companies.
- How much can I win? Any damages paid depend on a number of factors, including medical bills, time off of work, and future damages. Your lawyer should be able to provide you with a ballpark number based on previous cases.
- Do you have a website? The answer should be “yes,” because lawyers with an online presence are likely to be more active and interested in taking new cases. An attorney with a site will have qualifications, contact information, and recent case results readily available.
- How much do you charge and what is your mode of payment? You need to ask how much legal counsel costs. Most lawyers, like those at the Dixon Injury Firm, use a contingency payment system. This means you only have to pay legal fees based on the percentage of the settlement if you win. If we don’t win the case, you don’t pay.
- Can you recommend another lawyer? This may be an odd question to ask, but is an important one. You’ll often be able to tell if a lawyer is uninterested or unavailable to take on your case. It’s a good sign if said lawyer can point you in a better direction.
- Are you available? This is a big one. Lawyers need to be available at reasonable hours, such as business days between 9 and 5. At the Dixon Injury Firm, we pride ourselves on quick response times and being available via email and other modes of communication.
- Will you fight my case in court? Some personal injury lawyers shy away from jury trials. You want to make sure any lawyer you hire is ready and willing to face an in-court case.
Contact Your Dog Bite Lawyer Today
While I’ve tried to sum up the common mistakes you can make in a dog bite case, the above list is by no means complete. I hope this information is helpful. As always, you can contact the Dixon Injury Firm today at (314) 409-7060 for a free consultation and case review. My best advice is if you or a family member have been injured by an animal or dog, reach out to a local dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. It’s important to have a trusted dog bite attorney on your side.