How Much Can You Get For A Dog Bite?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans need medical treatment for dog bites. Children, seniors, and people in certain professions, such as meter readers and mail carriers, are particularly at risk.

A 2019 study by the Insurance Information Institute found the average cost of a dog bite claim in Utah was $34,548. That said, each case is unique, and the final settlement for each will depend on its unique factors. These include the severity of your injuries and whether liability is shared or not.

In Utah, dog bites often fall under premises liability law, as it is a property owner’s responsibility to control an animal under his or her care. If you have been injured by an aggressive dog, do not delay in seeking legal advice about your rights. An experienced and tenacious Utah premises liability lawyer could help you fight for the compensation you need to recover and get your life back on track.

The Impact of Dog Bites

Dog bites can range from minor nips to horrific attacks that have tragically cost people their lives. While fatal attacks are rare, dog bites can cause a range of injuries for which you may be entitled to compensation.

The seriousness of the attack can have a big impact on the amount of compensation you receive:

  • Minor injuries: Small puncture wounds that lead to minimal time off work, no scarring, and no long-term complications. Your losses are likely to include an urgent care appointment, follow-up doctor’s visits, and little to no time off work. These injuries are likely to result in the lowest levels of compensation.
  • Moderate injuries: These are more significant injuries that may require stitches and ongoing medical treatment. Scarring is likely to be permanent. You may need more time off work, meaning that compensation should include payment for lost wages as well as medical expenses.
  • Severe injuries: Serious injuries, possibly caused by multiple bites, may have caused nerve damage, broken bones, and serious disfigurement. You may need reconstructive surgery and ongoing rehabilitation, leading to a significant amount of time off work. Such attacks may cause significant emotional distress and psychological trauma, which could lead to a higher settlement.

If the worst happens, Utah law is also there to protect the rights of family members left behind. While fatal attacks are uncommon, 3 individuals were attacked by dogs in Utah on a single day in October 2023. Sadly, all 3 victims lost their lives due to fatal injuries. This highlights that such tragedies can and do occur close to home.

If you have suffered the devastation of losing a loved one in a dog attack, talk to an experienced Utah dog bite attorney about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. He or she will be able to advise you on the best legal route to pursue maximum compensation.

How Utah Dog Bite Laws Affect Compensation

Utah law broadly favors people who have been attacked by dogs. It operates under a doctrine of strict liability, meaning that the dog owner is liable for injuries caused by his or her dog.

Utah Code Title 18. Dogs § 18-1-1 applies whether or not the dog has a history of being vicious or mischievous. This provides more protection for dog bite victims than in many other states. Sixteen states have a so-called “one-bite” rule, which allows dog owners one free pass to escape liability when their dog attacks for the first time. In Utah, you may be able to pursue compensation even if it is the first time the dog has bitten someone.

Exceptions that affect compensation

However, the law also includes some important exceptions. For example, a dog owner may not be liable for injuries or deaths if the dog was on the person’s property and was reasonably secured by an enclosure, such as a fence.

Another exception is a dog bite that occurs while you are being arrested by a law enforcement agency. In most cases, you will not be entitled to pursue compensation, as law enforcement officers have the right to command the dog to bite when it is deemed necessary. However, an attorney may advise that you have a case if the law enforcement officer did not follow the agency’s written policy while making the arrest.

Comparative negligence and compensation

While dog owners can be held liable for dog bites in Utah, comparative negligence laws still apply to these cases. This means that if you were 50 percent or more at fault, you would not be entitled to compensation. If you were between 1 and 49 percent liable, the amount of compensation you receive would be reduced by your level of liability.

The dog owner may argue that you provoked the dog to bite you by hitting, teasing, or otherwise distressing the dog before it attacked you. However, comparative negligence does not usually apply when dogs bite children.

When to file a claim

If you wait too long to file a claim, you could lose out on compensation. In Utah, the statute of limitations for dog bite claims is 4 years from the date of the attack. So do not delay in seeking legal advice and starting your compensation claim.

Who to Sue for Dog Bite Compensation

If you get bitten by a friend or neighbor’s dog, it can be extremely awkward. You may be suffering and need compensation but feel reluctant to sue someone you know well.

The good news is that the dog owner’s rental or homeowners insurance may cover dog bites to a certain level. This means that you are not really suing your friend; you are seeking compensation from the insurance company. A dog bite lawyer can explain all your legal options so you can choose a course you are comfortable with.

Let Us Fight for Fair Compensation on Your Behalf

A dog bite can leave you traumatized and in pain for months or even years after an attack. While Utah law is on the side of dog bite victims, it takes skill and experience to navigate these laws successfully and pursue the compensation you deserve. That is why it’s essential to entrust your case to Siegfried & Jensen’s dog bite attorneys.

At your free case review, our lawyer will listen with compassion as you tell your story. He or she will carefully explain how to build the strongest case to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries along with your pain and suffering. Our attorney may be able to give you a ballpark estimate of the compensation you could receive at your initial meeting.

Call (801) 845-9000 to schedule a free case review today. Alternatively, fill out our online contact form, and we will contact you soon.

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.