Dog Bite Attorneys in Metairie, Louisiana
Dog bites and other animal-caused injuries can be serious. Moreover, they can permanently scar or disfigure a victim. Plus, those bitten or attacked by a dog can develop a fear that lasts a lifetime.
Louisiana law gives the victims of negligent pet owners a right to recover compensation for the harms and losses they suffer. At the Law Office of Bruce C. Betzer, we help our clients exercise their legal right to pursue that compensation. Dog bite cases are often challenging to prove, but we won’t back down from a fight. If you or a loved one has been injured by someone else’s animal in Metairie, Louisiana, or in New Orleans, Chalmette, St. Tammany Parish, or Jefferson Parish, here are a few things you should know.
Does Louisiana Have a Dog Bite Law?
Not all states have specific dog bite laws. Personal injury claims stemming from dog bites and other animal encounters are pursued under less specific statutes. Even among states with dog bite laws on the books, the specifics vary.
Louisiana does have a specific dog bite law that allows victims to pursue compensation. Its law is somewhat unique in that it is based on negligence rather than strict liability or negligence per se. Moreover, Louisiana dog bite law applies to a broader range of injuries caused by the animals of negligent owners. A victim does not need to be bitten to pursue compensation. They can be scratched or knocked down, trampled, or otherwise injured by the animal as well. So long as the victim was injured by the animal’s behavior, they can file a personal injury claim against the owner.
The victim may pursue compensation if the owner knew or should have known the animal could cause injury, the injury could have been prevented if the owner had taken steps to protect others, the owner failed to take reasonable steps to protect others, and the victim did not provoke the animal.
How Do You Prove Liability in a Dog Bite Case?
If you and your personal injury attorney file a dog bite claim, you will need to prove that the owner was negligent in their duty to protect others from their animal, that because the owner was negligent, the animal attacked you, and that as a result, you sustained injuries and other damages.
You can expect that the owner and their insurance company will attempt to prove that you or your injured loved one provoked the animal since that would invalidate your claim. It is our job to gather evidence to the contrary.
Even if they cannot prove provocation, they will attempt to assign fault to you anyway. Louisiana observes comparative negligence which means the victim can be found to be partially at fault. If you are, any insurance settlement or jury verdict will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. It will lessen your compensation, but not the value of your damages.
For example, your son is invited to play with a friend down the street. There is a “beware of dog” sign posted on the gate of the friend’s yard, but your son enters the yard anyway and is attacked by a dog. The jury values your son’s damages to be $30,000. The jury also assigns 20% of the fault to him for entering the yard despite the warning sign. His compensation would be reduced by 20%, so he would receive $24,000.
What Should I Know About Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
The first thing you should know about filing a personal injury claim in Louisiana is that you have only one year from the date of injury to either settle a claim with the owner’s insurance company or file a lawsuit. Suing for a dog bite stops the clock from running out at the one-year mark.
You should also understand the types of damages you can be compensated for in your claim or lawsuit. These include the cost of your medical bills, lost employment time if you are unable to work due to your injuries, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
It is important with dog bites to know that you cannot just allege emotional distress as part of your damages. To include it, you must seek therapy and incur the cost, and the therapy records must prove your distress is related to the attack.
Perhaps the primary thing you should know about filing a personal injury claim is the benefit of being represented by a dog bite attorney. Not all animal owners will have premises or umbrella liability insurance coverage to file a claim against. If they do not, your attorney will need to investigate ways the owner can pay if you file a lawsuit and obtain a judgment against them.
Dog bite cases can be complicated. An experienced dog bite attorney can make the difference between collecting compensation or not.
Dog Bite Attorneys in Metairie, Louisiana
Louisiana’s dog bite law will not provide you with compensation for your damages in and of itself. Count on us to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you love has been attacked by a dog or other animal and was injured, call the Law Office of Bruce C. Betzer in Metairie, Louisiana.