In most cases, the dog owner and the injured person fundamentally agree about what happened, who is at fault or who stands liability, and the extent of the resulting injuries and losses ("damages"), then a dog bite case can settle without a lawsuit even being filed. This is called the dog bite settlement.
Many people prefer to settle their claim outside of a trial. The benefits of doing so include:
- A faster resolution. Settling outside of a trial will allow the victim to put the incident in the past and have closure a lot sooner than if it went to trial.
- A faster financial recovery. Because the case will be over more quickly, the money owed to the victim will be paid sooner than if it went to trial.
- Greater control over the outcome. Settling the claim outside of trial will allow the victim to have greater certainty of the amount to be recovered—and will avoid the risks of a jury trial.
Ensure Your Claim Has Proper Documentation
Dog Bite Claims May Settle Before a Lawsuit is FiledIf the dog owner and the injured person fundamentally agree about what happened, who is at fault ("liability"), and the extent of the resulting injuries and losses ("damages"), then a dog bite case can settle without a lawsuit even being filed.
This usually means that:
- the injuries are minor or at least not susceptible of worsening over time
- the injured person did not have any pre-existing injuries that the dog bite may have aggravated
- the party who did not properly restrain or control the dog was indisputably the only person at fault, and
- the at-fault party was covered by insurance at the time of the accident. (Learn more about insurance and dog bite incidents.)
- written statements from eyewitnesses
- photos of the incident scene, the dog on or off leash, any open fences or gates through which the dog may have escaped, and injuries
- medical treatment records
- medical bills
- estimates and/or receipts for any other losses, and
- proof of lost earnings for any work absences caused by the incident.
What Does “Fair” Include?A fair settlement is one that compensates you for your injuries, taking into account:
- The compensation allowed by law. You may recover for your medical expenses, lost income, and other past, current, and reasonably anticipated future expenses that you incurred as a result of the dog bite.
- The quality of the evidence available and the likelihood of your success at trial. You will have to prove not only that you were bitten but also the extent of your injuries in order to be able to recover damages.
- Other things, such as any savings you may incur from not having to go to trial, your willingness to pursue a recovery, and the insurance company’s willingness to settle out of court should also be considered.