Before most dog bite lawsuits are filed, settlements are reached and this is a victim’s guide to dog bite settlements. When insurance companies are involved pretrial settlement is an opportunity to bring the case to a conclusion without going through a lengthy court process and dog bite trial that takes even more time and costs more in legal expenses.
Of course, every dog bite settlement is different, and there are a lot of things that must be taken into consideration by both parties before it can be determined whether a settlement provides an outcome that is fair while providing proper compensation for the victim.
Keep in mind that while a settlement may seem ideal, dog bites could cause implications that are not apparent until later down the road. Therefore, you should always have the injuries examined by a doctor as well as know what kind of scars will form over time as well as what the process is going to be for scar revision. By doing this, you will ensure that your dog bite lawyer can seek the maximum amount of compensation for any damages that were caused by the dog bite.
When can a dog bite settlement be reached?
At any time during the process, a dog bite settlement offer can be put on the table by the defendant or plaintiff. So long as no verdict has been reached, and the case isn’t being presented in a trial. Keep in mind that you will always want the help of a seasoned attorney to ensure that the settlement is an adequate offer so that you don’t risk losing out by accepting it.
· Before Filing the Lawsuit with the Court
It isn’t uncommon for a plaintiff’s attorney to present a demand for compensation in hopes of reaching a settlement before the case gets tied up in court. A lot of the time, the defendant’s attorney or insurance company will even offer some form of settlement before the court.
If the defendant or insurance company comes to the table with an offer, there is a chance that they will try to get out of it by paying less than what you may be entitled to should the case be taken to court. This is why you want to document all medical expenses, lost wages, and damages that resulted from the dog attack and consult with a personal injury lawyer before agreeing to settle.
· During the Mediation Process (After the Discovery Period)
The discovery period is where both parties have a chance to examine the evidence, request for witnesses to be called in to testify, and utilize any other methods to gather the facts and evidence that pertain to the case. This is usually the part of the case that will take the longest as it is meant to provide a good look at what will be presented in the trial, should it get to that point.
This is also where each party has a chance to see the strengths and weaknesses of the other party clearly, as it demonstrates how strong or weak a case may be. After the discovery process, the court may set up mediation (formally known as alternate dispute resolution) to allow for the two parties to reach a resolution with the help of an unbiased mediator that oversees this part of the process. It is essentially an opportunity for the case to be resolved without a trial.
In most personal injury lawsuits that have reached this point, this is where they usually settle out of court. Especially if it has become clear that the other party was liable for the damage and injuries caused by the dog bite. However, there is always a chance that no settlement will be reached, and a trial will be necessary for the case to come to a conclusion.
· If no settlement is reached, the case may go to trial.
Only about two to five percent of personal injury lawsuits go to trial because by the time it has a chance to do so, both parties usually agree upon some form of settlement. For the small number of cases that do get to this point, it could take over 2 years for the trial to begin. This period may be extended because of the Covid-19 court closures.
In most situations, a trial is held to present the facts and findings in front of a jury. The jury will decide based upon the evidence and testimonies, what the fair outcome of the case will be. All in all, this is a lengthy process and could be drawn out for quite a long time. It’s especially crucial that at this time you are represented with an attorney that specializes in dog bite claims.
How much can I get in a dog bite settlement?
This depends upon the severity of the injuries, what kind of income has been lost due to not being able to work, and many other factors. Not one dog bite settlement is the same and there is a chance that the true impact won’t be fully visible until months (or even years) down the road.
The average dog bite settlement value in 2019 was over $44,000 which is a number that continues to rise every year. If you have been bitten by a dog in the Houston area, give my office a call at 713-572-6446 so that I can help determine what an appropriate value would be for your case and ensure you get the compensation that you’re entitled to.