If you have been bitten by a dog or seriously injured when a dog collided with your bicycle, or jumped on you and knocked you over, you have a right to receive compensation for something that was caused by negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of others.
When it comes to an Ohio dog bite case, you do not want to do anything or fail to do anything that would weaken your case and significantly reduce what the insurance company is required to pay.
Top 10 Mistakes in an Ohio Dog Bite Case
The following are 10 common mistakes made in an Ohio dog bite case. Unless the situation is very minor, you should be thinking about how to protect yourself from the minute you become a victim.
1. Neglecting to get medical treatment immediately either by going to the emergency room, urgent care center, or by seeing a doctor. The sooner the information becomes part of a permanent record, the sooner your documentation of the injury can begin and the insurance company can begin to realize this may be a serious matter. It is also very important to seek treatment readily for your own health concerns. You may need tetanus or rabies shot(s) and these must be given within a short time period after a bite.
2. Forgetting to document everything that is going on. Write your own statement about what happened as soon as you can after the occurrence. Create a file and store such things as photographs of your injuries, medical records, receipts, reports from authorities, letters from the insurance company, information about the type of dog who injured you, names and telephone numbers of witnesses, and the name of the dog owner and their telephone number if you can get it. If you hire an attorney, this file will be especially useful.
3. Neglecting to take photographs of your injuries. This is an easy one to overlook, but pictures should be taken along the way as the wound heals so that any disfigurement and scarring is accurately recorded. It is harder for the insurance company to deny such evidence especially if medical records back it up. It also indicates your injury is a serious one and you can prove it.
4. Failure to notify the proper authorities. This could be the animal warden or a local animal control officer. If you do not know who to call, contact the local police or your county government office. The authorities can help in getting witness statements and in investigating the circumstances of the bite or injury. They may have to take further action if the animal has been designated a “vicious” or “dangerous” dog. If you don’t know who owns the dog responsible, they can find out and you can find out if the dog is up to date on its rabies vaccinations.
5. Telling a lie. Honesty is the best policy. Although it seems like common sense, do not exaggerate what happened or say something about your injury that isn’t true. If you give statements to authorities or medical personnel that can later be contradicted by the insurance company, your claim will likely be seriously damaged or even destroyed. When you talk about your injury—even to co-workers and family—be extremely careful. You have a right to be upset, but not to make unfounded accusations.
Dealing with insurance companies
6. Giving a recorded statement to any insurance company. In the excitement of the moment, you may recall something incorrectly. The insurance company will use your recorded statement to find inconsistencies with later facts that arise in the case. Never agree to give a recorded or written statement without checking with an attorney first.
7. Signing any insurance company forms or medical authorizations. This can give the insurance company the right to look at your medical history. They would not be doing this for your benefit, so steer clear of signing anything that gives a party that does not represent you the right to do something which could have devastating consequences for you.
8. Offering to the insurance company an amount for which you would be willing to settle. Armed with this information, the insurance company is in a better position to negotiate and you will be the loser. Some people like to get things over with and have a “take the money and run” attitude. This is not a good time to exhibit that attitude. You need to allow your lawyer time to gather facts to proceed with your case. You may also need to wait and see if your injury is totally healed or if you will have future medical expenses.
9. Telling the insurance company you are eager to settle. If you need money, it is hard to wait even a few months. But remember that quick settlements usually mean lower payouts. If you let it be known that you are in debt and cannot wait to settle the case, you are telling the opposing side that you are in a weaker position, that you would not consider taking this matter to trial. This is especially critical if you have permanent injuries, disfigurement, or scarring. You stand to gain by not being over-eager.
10. Failing to hire an Ohio attorney, especially if your dog bite injuries appear to be serious. If you get a serious dog bite or injury from a dog that can lead to permanent harm or disfigurement, a lot will be going on. You will have to get medical help and may even wind up in the hospital. Insurance companies may be calling you to try to get information about what happened and to offer you a settlement. You may feel very confused about what to do and believe that you cannot afford a lawyer.
In actuality, you cannot afford not to have a lawyer because you will have a fight ahead of you and you need someone who is familiar with dog bite law in Ohio. It is best to consult with a Personal Injury lawyer as soon as you can so you do not make any of the mistakes just mentioned.
Some lawyers will take your case on contingency. This means the attorney does not earn a fee unless the client’s case is resolved and the client recovers damages.
We are a law firm that takes Ohio dog bite cases on a contingency fee basis. We have more than 40 years of experience in various legal matters including dog bite lawsuits. Please call us at 888.534.4850 for a free consultation.