After suffering a dog bite injury, you may consider filing a personal injury claim against the owner or another responsible party. Doing so gives you the chance to seek compensation for your medical care and other damages you experienced due to your injuries. Whether your dog bite case will settle out of court will depend on the liable party’s willingness to offer a fair settlement and other factors.
With most personal injury cases, it is common for the liable party’s insurance company to settle with the victim before the case reaches trial. However, some cases go all the way to the end of a trial, where the court makes a decision. Our firm can support you through either outcome.
Understanding the Process for a Dog Bite Case
When you choose to file a personal injury case related to a dog bite, you must be aware of the state’s filing deadline. According to Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10, victims usually have up to two years from the date of the incident to start the process.
This deadline does not mean you have to settle the case within two years. Rather, it means you have two years to file a lawsuit. Within that time, you must also:
- Decide whether to hire an attorney and choose the right one to represent you
- Notify the dog owner and their insurance company that you are filing a personal injury claim
- Collect evidence to prove the owner’s liability and your right to damages
- Estimate the value of your injuries and other damages
- Build and present a compelling case
- Begin settlement negotiations
- File all the necessary paperwork to initiate the lawsuit
When you hire our dog bite injury attorneys, we can navigate this process for you. We also will make sure the dog owner follows Ohio Revised Code Section 955.261 regarding handling the dangerous dog in the days after the attack.
Hearing from the Insurance Company
At some point, you will hear from the insurance company that represents the dog owner about your bite injuries. This communication could happen a few days or several months after your injury. It may happen before you hire a personal injury lawyer or afterward.
It’s important to note that you do not have to speak to the insurer without your attorney being present. Once you hire legal representation, the attorney will take over all communication with the insurer and handle requests for statements.
Weighing Settlement Offers from the Liable Party
The insurance company may make a settlement offer right away after your dog bite incident. It’s critical to note that accepting the first offer you receive could undervalue your claim, especially if you do not know the full cost of your medical treatment and other damages.
The insurer may make a settlement offer to avoid going to trial. Trials can be expensive for the insurance company, so settling out of court is often a smarter financial decision for the insurer.
However, you do not have to accept an insurance company’s initial offer. You can begin negotiations or decide to proceed to trial if the insurer refuses to budge.
Advantages of Settling the Case for You
Many times, it is also in the best interest of the victim to settle before trial. Going to court can extend the time it takes to recover compensation, and you will have to factor in court fees.
However, our goal as your legal team is to ensure that any offer you accept addresses the expenses and losses resulting from the dog bite. Otherwise, you will have to cover any remaining damages or expenses that pop up in the future yourself.
Your attorney can help you determine whether the insurance company’s settlement offer is a fair one. If you do not receive an offer that truly compensates you for your current injuries and any future damages related to the dog bite, we may recommend going to trial.
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Moving Toward a Personal Injury Trial
Only a small percentage of dog bite cases go all the way to trial—settling out of court is far more common.
At trial, both sides will present the facts as they see them, and the jury will decide the case. Some insurers will continue negotiations during court proceedings, hoping to reach a settlement outside of the court’s decision.
A Negotiated Settlement Ends the Case
Understand that you no longer have the right to go to trial once you accept a settlement offer. The settlement signals an end to the case. Along those same lines, you cannot request more money after agreeing to a settlement, even if you discover new injuries later.
Our Team is Ready to File a Dog Bite Personal Injury Claim for You
Our dog bite injury attorneys are ready to defend your right to seek compensation after you suffered injuries from an aggressive animal. We will negotiate on your behalf with the insurer and take the case to trial if necessary.
For a free consultation, call us at (614) 545-3930 as soon as possible.