The statute of limitations on dog bite cases is three years in Maryland, two years in Pennsylvania.
What Information Or Evidence Should Someone Collect In A Dog Bite Case?
Best evidence is to collect information that is the number one question, who owns the dog. That is fundamental, because if you cannot prove who owns the dog, or who had control of it, you cannot make that individual liable. We have had cases where we believe the owner has disclaimed ownership of the dog, and without a dog registration, or a statement from a witness, you cannot prove who owns the dog. It is important initially to try to get someone to acknowledge ownership, or control of the dog after the incident. Then, you can kind of go on beyond that, you can look for any knowledge of other incidents, did the owners know about other incidents, and were there witnesses to that particular instance that you are trying to recover from. That is the kind of information you want to obtain, to fight your case.
Is It Advisable to Negotiate A Dog Bite Case Without An Attorney?
No, it is not advisable to negotiate a dog bite case without an attorney. Insurance policies are in some instances under the pages, and they are going to have many different exclusions, and endorsements that inform a part of that policy. You are going to make sure that you tiptoe around any of those issues that come up related to the insurance policy. Therefore, you do not want to make a statement that is not going to be interpreted properly under the insurance policy, because the first thing insurance companies do is look for a way to get out of paying any claims. Insurance adjusters on their own are not going to assist a victim in determining future medical bills, and wages of their damages. They are just not going to help you out at all; in fact, often enough they will ignore you.
You need to retain an attorney, because an attorney will address those issues with the adjuster, and they will be able to address them in a way that is persuasive and proper. Therefore, it is not cheaper. In fact, it will cost you thousands of dollars to try to do it on your own. It is impossible.
How Are You Able To Assist Dog Bite Clients As An Attorney?
The first way to help a client in this scenario is we file a lawsuit, and we find out whether insurance is available, and what the limits are. That is the number one way we can do it. Then collaterally we can help the owners or the victims, navigate the process of getting coverage through different layers of insurances. Oftentimes, one of the things we do is to try to get the dog owners insurance company to pay out on what we call the Med-Pay portion of the claim. This is called the Med-Pay portion of an insurance policy. One good reason why we do that is it may be only a $1000 or more of an actual amount that they pay under Med-Pay, but it is without fault, and admission of any liability.
They can pay that without fault, but in those instances, we can use that to show ownership or control if necessary. It is kind of one of those tricky little things we can try to prove, with at least an element of ownership, or control without asking somebody directly who owns the dog. If they deny this, we can help them get through that process by navigating the initial lawyers of insurance. The other thing that will happen is if the owner’s homeowners insurance pays that first Med-Pay and you exhaust it, if the damages are severe enough, then you will often have to fall back on your own health insurance policies.
Your own health insurance will start to kick in. After that, the minute that your health insurer finds out that you were injured because of a dog attack, they are going to send you a subrogation letter asking you to fill out the form, and say how your injuries happened, and whether or not somebody else may have caused those injuries. They will start the process of making the claim against someone else as well. Oftentimes, whether or not the victim likes it, there is going to be an attorney involved at some point in time, because his health insurance is going to hire their own subrogation attorneys, and try to collect the money that the health insurer pays out on behalf of the insured, which is the victim.
We can help them navigate through that process and oftentimes, it is just as well that the victim gets to pick their lawyer, that being we, as opposed to a health insurance attorney that does it for subrogation. Subrogation attorneys are never going to consider the insured’s future medical bills, or future wage loss types of claims; they just want to get the money back to the victim. It is important to have your own independent attorney represent you, and that is what we can do to assist them in any kind of dog bite claim. We can help them navigate the subrogation process, we can help them navigate getting the original, and the first party medical Med-Pay benefits, and we can certainly help them with the liability components of that too.
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