More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Approximately 20 percent of the attacks are serious enough to warrant hospitalization, and 27,000 victims require reconstructive surgery each year. Victims may be able to file a claim or lawsuit to hold the dog owner legally liable for the harm they caused. For help pursuing your case, you can call Milwaukee injury attorney Stephen B. Strnad, S.C. at 414-939-5293 for a free legal consultation.
Wisconsin Dog Bite Laws
Unlike other states that make it hard for victims to recover damages, Wisconsin has strict, victim-friendly dog bite laws. Some states, referred to as one-bite rule states, have statutes that state the dog must have had a history of aggression for an owner to be held liable. Not so in Wisconsin. In this state, owners are held strictly liable for the injury their dog causes. Wisconsin Statues 174.02(1)(a) provide: “The owner of a dog is liable for the full amount of damages caused by the dog injuring or causing injury to a person, domestic animal or property.”
Moreover, if the dog owner knew that the dog previously injured, the owner will have to pay double the damages. The owner also will be subject to a fine up to $1,000 in addition to liability for damages.
Pursuing Compensation for Injuries after a Dog Attack
When someone’s dog injures you, you can file a claim with his or her homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company. One-third of all homeowners’ liability claims are for dog bites, reports the AVMA. While many policies cover dog attacks, they usually have limits on payouts, exclude certain breeds and only cover one dog claim per policy. Some owners carry pet liability insurance, which may be able to supplement your damages. A dog bite lawyer can assist with your dog bite claim.
If the owner’s policy does not cover your damages, you also retain the right to file a lawsuit against the owner. The owner (and his or her attorney) likely will devise defenses to refute your case. For example, he or she might say the dog was a rescue dog or might try to pin some of the fault on you, e.g., claiming you instigated the attack. A lawyer will be able to anticipate these arguments, break them apart and present convincing evidence to the contrary.
If your case is successful, you can obtain compensation for damages such as the following:
• Ambulance, hospital and medical bills
• Reconstructive surgeries and medications
• Mental health care and counseling
• Lost wages
Scarring and disfigurement
• Emotional damages
• Pain and suffering
Time Limits on Taking Action
There is a three-year time limit, or statute of limitations, on when you can file a claim for dog bite injuries. This means that you have three years from the day of the attack to take action. Failure to do so can bar your right to compensation.
However, time limits are different for children, and you do not want to wait too long to file a claim. Evidence can be lost, and unanticipated delays could thwart your case. Plus, the sooner you file, the quicker you can receive your much-needed settlement.
Free Consultation with a Dog Bite Lawyer in Milwaukee
If a dog attacked you or your child, our team at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Strnad, S.C. in Milwaukee can help. We have a passion for helping hurting victims secure the settlements they need to take care of their medical needs, loss of income and other damages.
Call us today at 414-939-5293 for a free, one-on-one consultation with Milwaukee injury attorney Stephen B. Strnad, S.C.