Dog Bites and Personal Injury

“Man’s best friend” can become your wallet’s worst enemy in a flash — of teeth. Liability for dog bites varies from state to state, however, in general, if you are the owner (or, “pet parent” if you prefer) harborer, or keeper of a dog that bites someone, you can be held liable for the injured person’s economic and in some cases, noneconomic (pain and suffering) damages.

In both Oregon and Washington where we practice, dog owners can be held liable for a dog bite victim’s economic damages. Economic damages can include: medical expenses, rehabilitative services, loss of income, and past and future impairment of earning capacity. Depending on how severe the bite is, things can get expensive pretty fast. Noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, may in some cases be more difficult to get, but they can be recovered as well.

Not So Free “One-Free” Bites.

Contrary to what many people may believe, you don’t get a free pass in life and in many states —– like Washington— your dog does not get one “free” bite. Fido bites, you pay. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter that the dog had never bitten anyone before or that the owner had no idea that the dog would bite someone.

In Oregon, the laws are a little less strict. But not much. The dog bite victim does not have to prove that the owner of the dog knew or should have known that the dog would bite in order to recover economic damages, and it is no defense to the owner that he couldn’t foresee that the dog would bite someone.

However, in Washington, unless the dog is a police dog, the owner is strictly liable for the dog’s actions, if the dog victim was attacked in a public place, or private place where he had a right to be. This “absolute” or “strict” liability means that, consistent with other personal injury claims, the owner of a dog that has bitten someone will be liable for whatever amount of money the jury, judge or arbitrator determines is fair to compensate the victim for his or her economic and noneconomic damages. That means that the dog owner will be responsible for paying the victim’s past and future medical bills, wage loss, impaired earnings, anxiety, fear, sleeplessness, pain, mental anguish, disfigurement and more.

In Oregon, it is a little more difficult for the bite victim to get noneconomic (pain and suffering) damages. Because dog owners are not held strictly liable if their dog bites someone, the victim would have to prove that the dog had known “dangerous propensities.”

We Are Here To Help!

If you are the victim of a dog bite or own a dog that has attacked someone, we can help. We are experienced attorneys with offices in Washington and throughout Oregon. We offer free consultations, reasonable fees, and are committed to getting our clients the relief they need. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.

When Can You Recover for Pain and Suffering?

 

If you have been in a car accident, the extent of the damage to your car is pretty obvious, but what about you? You not only have medical bills, but you are also suffering from the mental and emotional impact of the accident: you’re upset, you’re afraid to drive or be in a car again, or maybe you’re up all night because you can’t get it off your mind or the pain is keeping you awake. Is that something you can recover money for?

Yes, it is. Mental and emotional damage resulting from an accident or injury is compensable.

What is Pain and Suffering?

When someone files a civil lawsuit, they are generally looking for money to compensate them for the damage or injury done to them. Damages fall into two categories: (1) economic and (2) noneconomic.

Economic damages refer to money losses, like medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, etc.

Noneconomic damages, however, refer to more intangible damages, like injury to reputation, mental distress, or humiliation. In the context of a personal injury action, “pain and suffering” generally refers to the noneconomic, mental or emotional damage you suffer as the result of an injury or accident.

How Much Can You Recover for Your Pain and Suffering?

It’s not easy to evaluate a person’s pain and suffering. As you might imagine, everyone is different, so there is no bright line for calculating pain and suffering damages. Calculating pain and suffering damages involves a balancing of many factors.

State laws put limits on the type of noneconomic damages you can recover for and how much you can recover for them. For example, Oregon law limits recovery for pain and suffering to $500,000. Washington State, on the other hand, limits the amount you can receive from the parents of a child under 18 who is living at home and may have willfully injured you, and uses a wage times life expectancy calculation to limit other noneconomic damages.

When Can You Recover for Pain and Suffering?

Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering are generally part of any personal injury or car accident litigation. However, just because the ability to recover such damages exists, that does not mean that the insurance company will automatically pay for them. You will need to prove the extent of your damages —including your pain and suffering— with evidence and testimony. Some documents you may need to provide are:

  • Prescription receipts.
  • Over-the-counter medication receipts.
  • Medical bills, if any, for therapy, ambulance costs, x-rays, emergency room visits,
  • Proof of lost wages or time off from school.
  • A log of all medical treatment, pain, and missed activities.
  • Photos of your injuries.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney!

We can take the pain out of personal injury recovery. We offer free consultations, reasonable fees, and are committed to getting our clients the relief they need. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.

3 Types of Slip and Fall Cases

3 Types of Slip and Fall CasesWhen a person slips, falls, or otherwise injures themselves on someone else’s property, that person may have the grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. This type of case will be built on what is known as “premises liability.” Premises liability refers to the legal duty a property owner has towards anyone who comes onto his or her property.

There are two primary elements used to determine fault in a premises liability claim:

  • Whether the property owner acted in a reasonable manner to prevent or address a dangerous condition
  • Whether the injured party was careless

In other words, for the injured party to have a strong claim, the property owner must have known about the dangerous condition and been careless in remedying or addressing it. Premise liability cases can be divided into three general categories by the location of the injury.

  1. Business liability for injuries

If you have suffered an injury on the premises of a business property due to property owner or employee negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Business property owners have a legal duty to do everything that’s reasonably within their ability to make their property safe. Property owners are responsible for putting in place adequate safeguards (again, within reason) to protect visitors from harm.

  1. Residential injuries that take place in a home or apartment

These types of claims will usually involve homeowners insurance. If you are injured at home, be sure to carefully go over your homeowner insurance policy to assess your coverage. Every year insurance companies reject numerous claims for injury claims that are not covered.

  1. Injuries that take place in other locations

These types of cases can be tricky as it can be hard to know how to proceed or who to make a personal injury claim against. Some premises that may fall under this category include:

  • Parking lots or garages
  • Sidewalks and walkways
  • Public or government property

 

What is the Statute of Limitations on Filing my Personal Injury Lawsuit?

What is the Statute of Limitations on Filing my Personal Injury Lawsuit?Every state has its own deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits; this deadline is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” This means that a lawsuit must be filed within a certain time limit from the accident or injury, or else the injured party’s legal claim will be barred and they will forever lose the right to sue over that claim. In other words, the clock starts running on the statute of limitations on the day that you were injured. Depending on the state, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases ranges from one to six years. It’s important that, in the event you have an accident or slip and fall case, you are aware of the applicable statute of limitations to ensure that you don’t file your claim too late.

In some states, the type of personal injury claim can affect the time limit the injured party has to file a claim. For example, some kinds of defamation cases and claims involving persons under 18 may be granted longer time limits, while medical malpractice claims might get a reduced time limit. Most states have an exception to the standard statute of limitations time limits known as the “discovery rule” (or “discovery of harm” rule). The discovery rule exception extends the filing deadline in cases where the injured party was unaware of either: the injury, or the fact that the defendant’s actions may have caused the injury.

An example of the discovery rule in action is a medical malpractice claim where a surgeon left a temporary bandage in a patient’s abdomen, but the mistake was not discovered until years later. In this case, the statute of limitations would probably not start to run until the mistake was discovered. However, for this exception to apply, the delay in discovery must be reasonable. For example, if the patient experienced abdominal pain for years after the mistake but refused to seek treatment, the discovery rule exception might not apply.