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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Dog Bite Lawsuit

Dog Bite Lawsuit Cost

How Much Does a Dog Bite Lawsuit Cost?

low costLow: Small Claims Court Can Run $20-$320average costMedium: An Attorney May Charge $100-$300+ Per Hour, Up To $5,000-$50,000, or morehigh costHigh: Personal Injury Lawyers Often Charge 30-40% of the Settlement
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Although state laws vary, pet owners are usually considered legally responsible for their dog's behavior, and in most bite cases are required to pay all medical bills as well as lost wages resulting from the attack. They can also be ordered to pay for the bite victim's pain and suffering. If the dog owner is particularly negligent -- such as letting a dog known to be dangerous run loose -- there might be multiple or punitive damages, as well as separate criminal charges.

Typical costs:

  • A simple dog bite case, with basic medical care and some time off work but no major injury, permanent damage or scarring, could be handled in Small Claims Court, typically without lawyers. Filing fees and other costs for the claimant can run $20-$320 or more, but can be repaid by the defendant if you win. Nolo Press describes a hypothetical dog bite case[1] .
  • For a dog bite incident with serious injury, mental aggravation and hospital bills, most lawyers work on a contingency basis; they don't get paid until you do, and then they take anywhere from 30-40 percent of the money received. (Generally the lawyer's percentage is lower if the case is settled pretrial, and higher if it goes to trial or is appealed.) If you don't get any money in a settlement or court judgment, you don't owe any legal fees. Some lawyers charge a percentage of all money received; others take their percentage after the medical bills are paid. In a case with $50,000 in medical costs and a $100,000 settlement, a lawyer charging 33 percent of the total gets $33,000.
  • There are also court costs, expert witness fees, investigation charges, clerical labor and other expenses. In most states your attorney will pay these and be reimbursed out of the final settlement/judgment. These costs start around $1,000-$2,000 for an extremely simple case but can go much higher, depending on what's involved. In some states your lawyer can advance you the money for your medical bills and be reimbursed out of the settlement/judgment. If medical costs are paid by your health insurance, that company will be reimbursed out of the settlement/judgment.
  • A lawyer may charge based on an hourly rate of $100-$300 or more, billed monthly and charged whether or not your case is successful. This could run $5,000-$25,000 and up; however, if you can't find a personal injury lawyer to take your lawsuit on a contingency fee basis, it's usually a sign that you don't have a good case.
  • For a dog owner with homeowner's/liability insurance, usually the insurance company will provide defense attorneys, and will negotiate and pay a settlement in a dog bite lawsuit (unless the policy has a clause specifically excluding dog bites). These legal defense costs can easily run $10,000-$50,000 or more and have gone as high as $100,000-$200,000 and up. Dog owners without insurance must pay legal fees and expenses plus any amounts awarded to the defendant, and could lose their personal assets if the court rules against them. Settlements/judgments awarded in dog bite cases can be anywhere from $5,000-$500,000 or more, depending on circumstances.
Related articles: Property Damage Lawsuit, Small Claims Court, Car Accident Lawsuit

What should be included:
  • Nolo Press explains what to do[2] if you're hurt by a dog and how to negotiate[3] with a dog owner or insurance company. lists tips for a victim's attorney[4] .
  • explains what to do if your dog bites someone[5] . Nolo Press outlines a dog owner's liability[6] and legal defenses[7] , and whether someone other than the dog owner could be held liable[8] .
Additional costs:
  • Insurance companies may charge extremely high premiums or refuse to insure someone who owns a dog that has bitten another person. It may also be difficult, expensive and even impossible to find coverage if you own a particular breed of dog, such as a pit bull or Rottweiler.
Shopping for a dog bite lawsuit:
  • Ask about the attorney's training and experience in personal injury law, especially with dog bite cases. explains how to select[9] a personal injury lawyer and waht to do before[10] your first meeting with an attorney.
  • Referrals to personal injury lawyers are available through the American Association for Justice[11] and the American Bar Association[12] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written fee agreement. Be sure you understand exactly how and when the fees will be deducted from any settlement or judgment you receive.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
dog bite
Amount: $0.00 total
Posted by: joe johnson in south point, OH.Posted: April 17th, 2014 06:04AM
Firm: nolawyerPer Hour: 0
in ohio it is not worth living in that state. what if you get hurt can't work, set back an wait 2yrs, regardless if you have bills or homeless because of injury, don't worry go without you get money later. live on the street that's how it goes in ohio. that's how people give-up they need help, money dam lawyers
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dog attack
Amount: $0.00 total
Posted by: a user in Huntington, NY.Posted: February 17th, 2013 04:02AM
still waiting four years later. court system is horrible. missed 4 months of work had knee surgery. fell behjnd on my bills. Almost lost my house and ended my marriage
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