If you have been bitten by a dog, you need to take these injuries seriously; contact the West Virginia dog bite lawyers at the Manchin Injury Group to learn more.
A dog bite injury can be extremely traumatizing, both physically and psychologically. If you get attacked by a dog in West Virginia, your life could be turned upside-down. You might be facing significant medical costs, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. At Manchin Injury Law Group, our dog bite injury lawyers can help you restore your life as much as possible.
We use high-quality legal services and compassionate client care to achieve the best possible case results. Find out how our personal injury law firm can help you today.
Hiring a lawyer is not a legal requirement for pursuing compensation after a dog bite injury in West Virginia. However, it is the best way to guarantee the protection of your rights during the claims process. Unfortunately, you cannot trust a pet owner’s insurance company to treat you fairly. Insurance companies operate like other businesses; they are for-profit and more concerned with their bottom lines than their clients. You may encounter issues during the claims process, such as a significantly undervalued settlement or wrongful claim rejection.
A West Virginia dog bite lawyer can help you and your case in many ways, including:
Hiring a lawyer strengthens your case while allowing you to rest, relax and focus on healing from your dog bite injuries. You can trust your attorney to protect your best interests every step of the way – including when going up against an insurance company that might otherwise take advantage of you. Your lawyer will pursue the financial recovery that you deserve.
Damages refer to compensation you could receive from a defendant in a personal injury claim for your injuries and losses. The damages recoverable in your case will depend on the losses you suffered in the dog attack. Case values are dependent on many factors, but injury severity is one of the most important. If you or a loved one suffered a severe injury, such as one that will leave a permanent scar or nerve damage, this can increase the value of your settlement.
As a dog bite injury victim in West Virginia, you may be eligible for the following types of damages:
The financial aspects of your case, such as all of your necessary medical bills and health care costs, including surgeries, skin grafts, hospital stays, medications, counseling and therapy. Economic damages can also include lost wages from having to take time away from work, lost future earning capacity due to a permanent injury, attorney’s fees and out-of-pocket costs, and property damage repairs.
The nonmonetary or intangible effects that you suffered from the dog attack, such as physical pain and suffering, psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional distress, and scarring or disfigurement. It could also pay for diminished quality or enjoyment of life due to a long-term disability or significant mental anguish.
The dog owner may also owe you punitive damages for his or her recklessness or gross negligence. Unlike economic and noneconomic damages, which are meant to compensate the victim, punitive damages are to penalize the defendant and set an example for the rest of the community for what not to do.
It may take a great deal of expensive medical care to recover from your injuries. In many cases, victims can never make full recoveries from dog attacks. Holding someone accountable could bring you justice and financial compensation. Although no amount of money can take back a violent dog attack, a positive settlement or judgment award could allow a victim to move forward with greater closure and financial peace of mind.
You do not have to accept your losses or pay for your own medical bills out of pocket if someone else’s dog attacked you in West Virginia. You may be eligible for financial compensation from the pet owner or keeper – either directly from the individual or through his or her homeowners insurance company. To prove liability in a dog bite injury claim that is based on the theory of negligence, you must have clear and convincing evidence of four elements:
Negligence is the foundation of most personal injury cases in West Virginia, including dog bite injury claims. However, under the state’s unique dog bite injury law, proving negligence is not always necessary to collect financial compensation from a pet owner. In some cases, a strict liability doctrine will apply. This means that a dog bite victim may not have to prove that the owner was negligent or at fault to qualify for compensation.
West Virginia’s law regarding dog bites implies the victim does not need to show the owner of the dog was negligent to obtain compensation for injuries suffered as a result of an attack. West Virginia Code Section 19-20-13 states that the owner or controller of a dog who permits the dog to run at large will be liable for any damages inflicted upon the person or property of another person by the dog while it was running at large, regardless of the question of negligence.
Running at large can mean the pet was not fenced within the owner’s property at the time or that the animal wasn’t restrained, even if it was on someone else’s property. If the dog that attacked you wasn’t leashed at the time, the pet owner may be strictly liable. This means you do not have to show negligence by the owner to recover financial compensation for your injuries. Essentially, the owner of the dog would assume responsibility for dog bite injuries or property damage if the canine was allowed to run free (off-leash).
If the dog that bit you was leashed or contained on the owner’s property, however, West Virginia follows a one-bite rule. This law only holds a pet owner responsible for injuries and property damage caused by a dog if the owner knew or had reason to know that the dog was dangerous and would be likely to cause such injury. This means the owner must have had prior knowledge of the dog’s aggressive behavior, such as a previous bite incident or the dog killing a domestic animal.
If you wish to bring a dog bite injury claim based on the one-bite rule in West Virginia, it is your burden as the plaintiff to prove that the owner was negligent, and that this negligence caused or contributed to the bite. The burden of proof is a “preponderance of the evidence,” or enough evidence to convince the courts that the pet owner is more likely than not responsible for the attack. A dog bite lawyer can determine if the owner violated any laws and search for other evidence of negligence on the part of the pet owner to support your case.
It is critical to act quickly if you believe you have a dog bite injury claim. In West Virginia, a law called the statute of limitations limits the amount of time that you have to bring a claim against a pet owner. With only rare exceptions, if you miss your deadline, your case will be dismissed and you will be unable to pursue financial compensation from the pet owner or any other party for your dog bite injury, even if you have proof of negligence.
In West Virginia, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims – including dog bites – is two years from the date of injury. The clock will start counting down on the date that the dog attack occurred. In a case involving an injured minor, however, the minor has two years from his or her 18th birthday. If a violent dog attack proved fatal for your loved one, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of death rather than the date of the attack, if these are different.
When dogs attack, the outcome can be devastating. Some dogs can inflict severe injuries, such as deep lacerations, loss of limb, crush injuries and fatal injuries. Others use their teeth and claws to inflict serious lacerations that can result in scarring and disfigurement. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 4.5 million people suffer dog bite injuries each year, with at least 800,000 bites that need professional medical attention.
Some of the injuries most often associated with dog attacks include:
Dog attacks are also likely to cause psychological trauma and emotional injuries. A survivor may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, such as nightmares, flashbacks and a phobia of dogs. Immense emotional distress can affect the victim’s mental health and reduce overall quality of living. The combined physical, emotional and psychological effects of a dog attack can drastically alter a survivor’s life.
Hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you takes the legal burden from your shoulders. You can count on your attorney to investigate the attack and search for evidence to build and support your claim for you while you focus on healing. However, you can also build your own case, if you know what evidence to search for after the attack:
Additionally, call the police to report the incident. The police can draw up an official report that contains the facts and details of the dog attack. This can document the incident for insurance purposes. Remember, you may not need evidence that proves that the pet owner was negligent. Consult with an attorney to understand what evidence may be needed to establish your case.
The steps you take after suffering a dog bite injury in West Virginia are important for your health, wellness and injury claim. Act quickly to ensure you do not miss any important deadlines or filing requirements. If you are not sure what to do after an attack, or want help during each step of the process, contact our attorneys and request counsel. If you can, take the following steps:
Do what you can to protect yourself and heal from your dog bite injuries. Focus on your medical journey and mental health. Then, when you’re ready to seek financial compensation for a serious dog attack, contact our attorneys. If you need a West Virginia dog bite lawyer to visit you at home or in the hospital, call our law firm to request a free consultation at any point. We can walk you through the recovery process.
All dog owners in West Virginia must adhere to certain state laws that pertain to pet ownership. These laws are meant to keep citizens safe from dangerous dogs. In West Virginia, municipalities have jurisdiction over pet owners within their city or county lines. If your city has an ordinance that bans dogs from running at large in public places, for example, local pet owners must obey this rule and keep their pets restrained. Pet owners are also subject to statewide dog owner laws:
If a dog owner breaks any state or local law and this contributes to a dog bite injury, the owner could be liable for the victim’s damages. A broken statute could be proof of the pet owner’s negligence in causing or failing to prevent an attack. For more information about how West Virginia’s dog ownership laws work in your claim, consult with an attorney.
In West Virginia, dozens of people suffer dog bites and attacks every year. Dogs running loose or negligent pet owners not paying attention can lead to violent animal encounters. If you or someone close to you has become a recent victim, you are not alone.
Spreading awareness of the dangers of dog bites can help prevent incidents from occurring. At the Manchin Injury Law Group, we do not see or treat our clients like statistics. We treat them like family. We know just how devastating dog attacks can be and are here for you if you or a loved one is a victim.
The West Virginia dog attack attorneys at the Manchin Injury Law Group in Fairmont can help you in cases involving animal attacks and dog bites. We know how insurance companies will try to negotiate with you to minimize your medical damages and pain and suffering. An experienced West Virginia dog bite attorney can help.
Talking to a West Virginia premises liability attorney about a dog bite will allow you to understand what options you have to pay your medical bills and make other claims for damages like pain and suffering. In some cases, the dog owner’s homeowners insurance will pay a settlement, often with very little impact on the owner.
For more information about a potential dog bite injury claim in West Virginia, request a free consultation with one of our friendly and knowledgeable attorneys. We are here to help you get through this difficult time and pursue the justice that you deserve. Contact us today by calling (304) 367-1862 to speak with one of our West Virginia dog bite lawyers.
We offer a free initial consultation at our office in the Manchin Professional Building — our home since 1983 — conveniently located in Fairmont.
If you are unable to visit our firm, we can come to your home or hospital room.
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