What are the Different Types of Dog Bite Settlements?

Terrie Brockmann

Dog bite settlements vary from region to region, depending upon each one's dog bite law. Often personal injury laws guide dog bite settlements unless the dog bite law specifies what a victim may receive. Typically, victims of dog bites seek the aid of an attorney or other legal professional to handle their claims because of the complexity of the law. It usually is advisable to have a general knowledge of what settlements are available and who may be responsible for compensating the victim.

Dog owners are legally liable for bite injuries inflicted by their dogs.
Dog owners are legally liable for bite injuries inflicted by their dogs.

There are many factors governing legal settlements. If a person is a canine professional, such as a veterinarian, groomer, or trainer, she may not have the legal right to seek compensation from the insurance company or even the dog owner. On the other hand, an apartment landlord or trailer park owner may be liable, and a victim may get a settlement from that person. There have been cases in which public businesses, such as day care centers, elderly care facilities, and other people-based businesses, paid large settlements because dogs under their supervision bit people.

Dog bites should be promptly reported, so as to protect against rabies infection.
Dog bites should be promptly reported, so as to protect against rabies infection.

Often, dog owners or their insurance companies set up structured settlements. A structured settlement is a legal contract to pay a determined amount of money in periodic payments as an alternative to paying a one-time payment. Usually, the courts need to approve these types of dog bite settlements.

The other type of settlement is the lump sum payment. In these cases, the court awards the victim a single payment. Sometimes, instead of the court, the victim and the payee negotiate the type of settlement. The court then approves or rejects the settlement, depending upon the legal restraints. In the United States, often a victim must pay high taxes on a lump sum settlement, whereas some structured dog bite settlements may be tax-free.

When seeking compensation for injuries, people tend to think about only their physical injuries. Generally, dog bite settlements may allow for compensation for future needs, such as future surgeries or therapy, lost wages, and even psychological treatments.

Not everyone is entitled to a dog bite settlement. Professional canine handlers often are not eligible because legally they assume the risk of a dog biting. In some legal cases, dog bite victims who may have enticed their attackers do not receive compensation. If a dog bites a person when that person is teasing it, trespassing on the owner's land, or attacking the owner, many courts do not award compensation. A person needs to check with the local or regional laws that determine each person's responsibility and legal rights.

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