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How Long Does It Take for a Dog Bite Settlement—and How Much Can I Get?

  1. How Long Does It Take for a Dog Bite Settlement—and How Much Can I Get?
  2. How Long Will It Take to Settle? Factors to Consider in Your Dog Bite Case 
  3. Average Dog Bite Settlement Amounts: How Much Is My Case Worth? 
  4. What Should You Do if a Dog Bites You in Texas? 
  5. How Will Adams Law Firm Can Help 

How Long Does It Take for a Dog Bite Settlement—and How Much Can I Get?

Nobody wants to endure a long wait for compensation after filing a dog attack. Not with medical bills piling up, and lost wages from either those who have been injured or must take time off work to care for a loved one who has. 

Unfortunately, dog bite cases are not always as simple as they might seem to those who have been injured. Several factors can increase the time it takes to settle, or even cause you to receive no financial compensation at all—even if you did nothing wrong. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the main factors that influence how long it takes to reach a settlement agreement in a dog bite case, how much claimants can expect to receive in compensation, and how an experienced attorney can help you get a fair settlement as quickly as possible. 

How Long Will It Take to Settle? Factors to Consider in Your Dog Bite Case 

The reality is that there is no “average” amount of time it takes to settle a dog bite claim. Some cases settle in no more than a few weeks, if the facts are clear and everyone involved is cooperative. Others can drag on for months or even years after the initial dog bite, putting ever greater stress on dog bite victims and their families. 

Here are a few of the most common factors that influence how long it may take a case to settle. 

The Dog Bite Laws in Your State 

Although specific dog bite laws vary from state to state, most fall into one of two broad categories: strict liability or the “one bite” rule. 

  • In a strict liability state, a dog owner or caretaker is typically considered responsible for the actions of their dog, even if they had no reason to suspect the dog was dangerous or had no way to prevent the dog bite. As long as their dog was not provoked, or the victim was not trespassing or breaking the law, the dog’s owner will likely be considered at fault. 
  • In a one bite rule state, you typically need to prove that the dog’s owner knew that their dog might bite—for example, because they had already bitten someone in the past, or had a history of aggressive behavior. 

The one bite rule is a higher standard than strict liability, which means that dog bite claims in those states (including Texas) are more difficult to win and often take longer to settle. 

Whether Negligence Is Clear Based on the Evidence 

If you, your child, or other loved one were viciously attacked, it may be clear as day to you that dog owner was at fault and should be responsible to pay for the resulting dog bite injuries. But again, because of the higher burden of evidence required in Texas cases, proving negligence might be harder than you think. 

For example, the dog owner may claim, truthfully or not, that: 

  • Their dog had never bitten anyone before, and they had no reason to know that the canine was dangerous 
  • The only reason the dog attacked was because you provoked it 
  • You were trespassing at the time of the attack 

These claims may or may not be outright lies, but if you do not have evidence showing that that dog owner had a reason to know their dog was dangerous or exercised reasonable care to prevent the bite from occurring, then negligence may be in dispute—and that can cause a dog bite case to drag out for a long time. 

The Severity of the Dog Bite Injuries 

The simple fact of the matter is that insurance companies do not want to pay out large dog bite injury claim settlements. They are interested in their own bottom line, not your recovery. 

If you or your loved one’s injuries are minor, relatively little medical treatment is needed, and recovery is quick, reaching a fair settlement might not take a whole lot of negotiating. From the perspective of the insurance company, such small claims may not be worth fighting. 

On the other hand, if the injuries are serious, current and future medical bills and lost wages are large, and the emotional trauma, pain, and suffering are significant, the insurance adjuster is going to take a much more critical look at your case and seek any opportunity to deny you a quick settlement, drag out the process, and get you to accept less than what your case is truly worth. 

Average Dog Bite Settlement Amounts: How Much Is My Case Worth? 

Dog bite settlement amounts can vary significantly based on the specific circumstances, from as little as a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands. 

According to the Information Insurance Institute, the average dog bite payout in Texas is around $40,000. However, talking about averages isn’t always particularly useful, since dog bite settlement amounts have such a wide range—from just a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands. 

Some of the major factors that determine how much compensation you may be entitled to include: 

  • Amount of current and future medical bills. You’re entitled to compensation for your medical expenses from the responsible party, including hospital bills, physical therapy, and other related expenses. 
  • Amount of current and future lost wages. If your dog bite injuries prevent you from working and earning a living, temporarily or permanently, you’re entitled to be compensated for this as well. 
  • Pain and suffering. Severe dog-bite-related injuries can cause lasting non-economic damages. If your injuries have had a profound effect on your quality of life—for example, permanent scarring, emotional trauma, or disability—you may claim compensation for those damages as well. 
  • Insurance coverage limits. In theory, most dog owners should have dog bite liability coverage as part of their homeowners or renters insurance, but even then those policies may have coverage limits. If your damages exceed the available coverage limits, you may not be able to collect if the dog owner is unable to pay. 
  • Allocation of fault. In Texas, multiple parties can share the responsibility for a personal injury incident, including dog bites. If you are determined to be anywhere from 0% to 50% at fault, the amount you can claim will be reduced by the same percentage. (For example, if you claim $100,000 but are 30% at fault, you will only receive $70,000.) If you are determined to be more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover any compensation. 

“Will treats his clients with great kindness and compassion. He fully understands the pain and injustice each victim is going through. This compassion and understanding allows Will to prosecute your case to the fullest. Will is tenacious in pursuing what he feels is the correct settlement for his clients.”

- B & ES – Dallas, TX

“Will, Chris & Sarah. K and I just want to thank you so much for everything you’ve done for us and our family. Throughout this process you have kept us informed and been patient with us (especially me) as we navigated through unchartered territory. Putting things in your hands allowed Karl and I to focus on him getting better.”

- SC – Katy, TX

“Hi Will, I just wanted to take a minute and let you and your wonderful staff know just how much we appreciate each one of you! All of you have been so great to us. Y’all have always answered any and all questions immediately and never left us hanging or wondering about anything. All of you have made this.”

- SB – Katy, TX

"Dear Sarah, you are the best legal assistant in the history of such creatures of legend and lore. (And Brian is in the tribe too) Do take a copy of this email to your next annual performance review... you have raised the bar. Thank you for all your help!"

- AM – Houston, TX

"I wanted to thank you both for a job well done and for an outcome that far exceeded my expectations. I appreciated your expertise and your thoroughness of preparation, as well as keeping me informed of the possible outcomes at each major point.Will, I think that Chris did an excellent job and wanted to bring that to your attention."

- MJ – Katy, TX

What Should You Do if a Dog Bites You in Texas? 

Unfortunately, sometimes claimants can be their own worst enemies when it comes to getting a fair settlement quickly and efficiently. The claims process is complicated, and insurance companies do not hesitate to use that to their advantage. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps you should take immediately after a dog bites you in Texas. Following these guidelines can help ensure you get the care you need and gives you the best chance at recovering compensation. 

  • Exchange info with the dog owner. This will help you verify whether the dog is up to date on vaccinations, as well as help you file a dog bite claim with their insurance company. 
  • Exchange contact info with any eyewitnesses. This can help strengthen your case if negligence is disputed. 
  • Seek medical attention right away. Even if the symptoms don’t seem that bad at first, you must still go to the doctor as soon as possible. Most importantly, some dog-bite-related infections (in particular, rabies) won’t show signs at first, but can become deadly if you wait for symptoms to appear. Furthermore, seeking medical care right away and following your doctor’s treatment protocols faithfully helps link your treatment directly to the dog bite and shows the insurance company that you took your injuries seriously. 
  • Report the incident to your local animal control center. Reporting the incident helps verify whether the animal has received a rabies vaccination, and also helps document a history of aggressive behavior. If the dog does not have a current rabies vaccination, they may need to be quarantined for 10 days. 
  • Carefully document the situation. Write a description of the incident as you experienced it. Keep a pain journal. Keep track of all ambulance bills, medical expenses, lost income, and other expenses associated with the dog bite. This is critical evidence that can help you not only prove the other party’s negligence, but also receive a fair settlement. 
  • Contact a dog bite attorney. Even seemingly simple dog bite cases can get complex in a hurry, and the insurance company is not going to make it easy for you. That’s why it’s always best to contact a lawyer for a free case evaluation and review your legal options. 

RELATED POST: How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Texas? 

How Will Adams Law Firm Can Help 

If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog and it wasn’t your fault, you deserve professional guidance from a dog bite lawyer who will stand up for what’s right. 

Our attorneys can handle every aspect of the claims process, including gathering evidence, calculating damages, negotiating with insurance, filing a lawsuit, and, if necessary, arguing your case before a jury trial. 

Hiring an attorney can often help you settle faster. But more importantly, it will help you avoid settling for too little, or taking the first lowball settlement offer the insurance company provides. Once you settle, you can’t go back for more later, so it’s important to make sure you really are receiving the full extent of the compensation you’re entitled to. 

It all starts with a free consultation where we evaluate your case, help you determine your options, and guide you on the next steps. To schedule yours, contact Will Adams Law Firm in Katy, TX today at (281) 371-6345 or complete our easy online form. 

 

References 

Sassian, Maria (9 April 2019). Dog Bite Liability Claims By State – Interactive Map. Insurance Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/dog-bite-liability-claims-by-state-interactive-map-draft/  

 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

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