Cases involving dog bite injuries are classified as personal injury cases, just like car accident cases or slip and falls. Nearly all damages in personal injury cases are considered “compensatory in nature. That means the purpose of a damage award is to compensate the injured party for all that was lost due to the accident or injury. A compensatory damages award is intended to make the injured party “whole.”
Compensation for dog bite injuries is made through a monetary award, to the extent possible, which means a judge or jury would be required to place a dollar amount on the injuries and other consequences resulting from an auto accident. Some damages are easy to quantify, such as medical bills, lost income or property damage. However, things like pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of hobbies due to physical limitations, are not as easily determined.
Types of compensatory damages available in dog bite cases
While dog bite cases are a more specific area of personal injury, the types of compensatory damages to which an injured party may be entitled are very similar. Most dog bite cases include damages for medical treatment, loss of income for missed time at work, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment. Again, medical bills and lost income are easy to quantify. But, other damages require more analysis and consideration of the facts.
Damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress
Compensation for pain and serious discomfort suffered during an injury, or as an immediate result of the injury, can be awarded in dog bite cases. It is also possible to be awarded a sum of money that compensates for any ongoing pain attributed to the accident. Emotional distress, typically linked to more serious injuries, is intended to compensate an injured party for the psychological effects of an injury. This could include fear, anxiety, and sleep loss.
Loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium
When an injury from a dog bite prevents you from enjoying hobbies or recreational activities, such as going to the park or walking your dog in the neighborhood, you may be entitled to damages for loss of enjoyment. Loss of consortium damages may be awarded when there is an impact on intimate relationships, such as spouses or parents and children.
Punitive damages in dog bite cases
In addition to compensatory damages, some cases are so egregious that punitive damages are applicable. If the conduct of the party at fault was so outrageously careless, the court may determine that a punishment is required. Another purpose of punitive damages is to deter others from the same types of conduct that caused the injuries at issue. Typically, demonstrating the applicability of punitive damages in a dog bite case requires establishing the dog was dangerous by nature, having a history of behavioral problems; the incident was foreseeable; or the dog owner’s conduct was substantially below the standard of care expected of a reasonable dog owner.
If you have questions regarding dog bite injuries, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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