According to the American Veterinary Association, dogs bite 4.5 million people each year in the U.S. Of course, not all dog bites are the same. In some cases, dog bites are nothing more than a “nip” that causes little – if any – physical harm.
In other cases, however, dog bite victims suffer severe physical, emotional, and psychological injuries. In the event that you or a member of your family has been injured by a dog bite, there is a good chance that you are entitled to compensation under Illinois law.
Assuming that you are entitled to a dog bite settlement, the amount you recover will vary based on the facts of your case. The severity and extent of your injuries are the most important factors in how much compensation you will be able to recover, making it extremely important to obtain medical care and to document your injuries.
Insurance companies are in the business of making money, however, and will do everything they can to settle your case for as little as possible. For this reason, it is highly advisable for all dog bite victims to work with an experienced dog bite lawyer in Chicago who can attempt to negotiate a settlement offer with the dog owners’ insurance company.
If you would like to know how much your Chicago dog bite case is worth, contact the Chicago Legal Group at 1-847-305-4105.
How Insurance Companies Try to Minimize Settlements
Rarely do insurance companies make a fair settlement offer to dog bite victims at first. Rather, they use various tactics to settle your case for as little as possible. Some of these tactics include:
- Making an unreasonably low initial offer to make later offers seem generous
- Pressuring victims to provide a recorded statement during which they attempt to trick them into saying something that could be interpreted to mean that they provoked the dog
- Misrepresenting victims’ legal rights
- Suggesting that victims do not need to speak to a lawyer
- Digging through medical records to find anything that could be used to indicate that an injury is part of a pre-existing condition
A dog bite lawyer who is familiar with these and other insurance company tactics can protect your rights and ensure that you get the compensation to which you are entitled under Illinois law.
How Your Dog Bite Compensation Is Determined
The value of a dog bite case can vary depending on a number of factors, including:
The Severity of Your Injuries
As mentioned above, the severity of your injuries will be the most important factor in determining your compensation. Severe injuries tend to result in significant damages like pain and suffering and large medical expenses.
In addition, injuries such as significant scarring, that will lead to permanent disfigurement or disability will generally result in more compensation. Examples of serious injuries that can lead to significant compensation include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Severe lacerations that result in scarring
- Nerve damage
The Age of the Victim
There is a perception that younger dog bite victims will receive more in compensation. While it is certainly true that a young child may suffer more severe and longer-lasting complications, adults can also sustain serious injuries in dog bite cases.
Serious bites can tear through the skin and subcutaneous tissue, often resulting in significant scarring. Scarring is often a lifelong injury and permanent damage from a dog bite. It can affect a victim’s appearance, often permanently.
Scarring could also result in the dog bite victim having to obtain plastic surgery. A significant cause and effect that may also increase the value of your settlement.
The Location of the Dog Bite
Bites that are more visible will lead to more compensation because they could lead to visible disfigurement and a change in your appearance, perhaps for the rest of your life. While all disfigurement is compensable, an injury that people can readily see is often worth more.
How Your Dog Bite Claim Is Valued
For dog bites, like any case involving personal injury, you are entitled to be paid for all the harm that you have suffered. The general principle is that you should be put in the same position as if the dog attack never happened in the first place. This means that you are entitled to the following:
- Payment for all the medical bills that came out of your pocket
- Lost wages for any time that you missed from work (this means that different adults may have varying claim values based on their actual salaries)
- Pain and suffering
- Payment for the emotional trauma that you suffered
- Compensation for any disfigurement
Data from Dog Bite Insurance Claims
Actual insurance data shows how much your dog bite claim can be worth. State Farm, one of the largest homeowners’ insurance companies in the U.S., releases annual data about its aggregate dog bite claims. Here is some of what you can learn from State Farm’s dog bite data:
- In 2018, State Farm paid out 3,280 dog bite claims nationwide, and the company revealed that it paid a total of $123 million in compensation. This works out to an average of $37,500 per claim
- The Insurance Information Institute reported that insurers paid a total of $675 million in 2018 on 17,297 claims for an average of just over $39,000
- Illinois had the second-highest number of dog bite claims in the country in State Farm’s database. In 2018, there were 288 claims for a total of $10.3 million in compensation. This works out to an average of almost $36,000 per claim.
Note that the numbers that we reported above are just the average based on the aggregate claims data reported. Your dog bite claim can be worth considerably more based on the factors described above.
Call Today to Speak with a Chicago Dog Bite Lawyer
The value of your dog bite settlement is directly tied to how you are able to prove the extent of your injuries. Contact your Chicago dog bite lawyer at the Chicago Legal Group at 1-847-305-4105 to learn more about how you can obtain compensation for your injuries.
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