Nationwide, dogs bite about 4.5 million people a year. Roughly a fifth of these victims receive emergency room for their physical wounds. Many more seek psychological or other treatment for their mental wounds. Quality physical and mental healthcare costs money, and compensation is available for these expenses.
Noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, are much harder to calculate. Most Brainerd injury lawyers multiply the economic damages by three, four, or five, depending on the facts of the case and some other factors.
Dog bite damages tend to be higher in Minnesota. The laws are extremely victim-friendly. Aside from the strict liability law, there are a number of other theories, such as negligence, which usually resonate with Crow Wing County jurors.
Economic Damages in Dog Bite Cases
Medical bills are usually the largest item in this category. Overall, after a brief drop after the Great Recession, medical inflation has crept up again.
Dog bite emergency care medical bills are usually quite high, and doctors must be highly skilled to treat these victims. When they bite, most dogs inflict both puncture and tearing wounds. Most trauma injuries are usually just one or the other. Due to the nature of these wounds, doctors usually need to not only treat the injuries but prepare the victim for reconstructive surgery. That’s a very tall order.
A Brainerd injury lawyer can connect victims with the top quality medical care they need. Attorneys have professional relationships with doctors. And these are not just any doctors. These physicians are experienced in dog bite cases. As a bonus, due to this prior relationship, attorney-referred doctors generally charge nothing upfront and lower their fees later on. So, victims don’t have to worry about medical bills. They just need to worry about getting better. And, when a Brainerd injury lawyer resolves the case, victims get to keep more of their settlement money.
The physical injuries are just part of the economic damage picture. Dog bite victims often suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD has been around for a long time. In Act II Scene 3 of Henry IV, Part I, a 1597 William Shakespeare play, Lady Percy describes PTSD symptoms in her husband, who has just returned from war:
O my good lord, why are you thus alone?
For what offense have I this fortnight been
A banished woman from my Harry’s bed?
Tell me, sweet lord, what is ‘t that takes from thee
Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?
Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth,
And start so often when thou sit’st alone?
The symptoms she describes (isolation, anger at family members, depression, sleeplessness, and heightened awareness) are common effects of PTSD.
PTSD is not a “disorder.” It’s a physical brain injury. Exposure to certain combat-like stress erodes the cerebral cortex, which controls logical responses. If that happens, the amygdala, which controls emotional responses, takes over.
Brain injuries are irreversible. Once the cerebral cortex shrinks, it never grows back. However, after extended physical therapy and counseling, neighboring uninjured areas of the brain might assume some of the lost functions. This process sounds painstakingly long, and it is painstakingly long.
Brainerd Injury Lawyers and Noneconomic Damages
As mentioned, tallying economic damages sometimes just means adding medical bills. Before a Brainerd injury lawyer can resolve the case, all this medical treatment must be at least substantially complete. Most settlements include waivers. So, there’s no way for a victim to get more money for additional medical expenses later.
To determine the amount of noneconomic damages, the victim’s own testimony is important. But many dog bite victims are young children who are not very good witnesses. Additionally, victims usually cannot see all the misery that their injuries cause. So, Brainerd injury lawyers need additional evidence, such as:
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities (e.g. Sally quit band or Jose left the chess team),
- Mobility issues which make it slightly more difficult to navigate stairs or get around in other ways, and
- Embarrassment over physical scars.
Typically, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a victim presents and the amount of damages jurors award.
Additional Punitive Damages
Prior incidents plus serious injury equals more money. That straightforward formula works well in most punitive damages cases. These damages are designed to punish the animal owner and deter future wrongdoing.
In this context, the prior incident usually needs to be a prior attack on another person. That’s different from evidence of knowledge in negligence claims. In that context, a “prior incident” could be non-contact incidents, like baring teeth or aggressive barking. Likewise, serious injury usually means either wrongful death or a debilitating injury.
Legally, to obtain punitive damages, the victim must establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that the owner intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
Dog bite victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.