Over the course of one week, 3 victims were recently attacked by vicious dogs in the same southwest Atlanta neighborhood. Not only is the number of attacks noteworthy, but the seriousness of the injuries is particularly disturbing. In one dog bite incident a 6 year-old boy was viciously attacked by a number of pit bulls that were loose and wandering the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the young boy lost his life due to the savage attack. In a related incident, a young girl who was waiting for the school bus with him was also attacked and rushed to the hospital. She ultimately survived the attack but will require a long hospital stay with the prospect of permanent injuries due to the attack.
Most dog bites on children result in permanent physical and mental scarring. Many of these dog attacks are covered by homeowners insurance. Insurance companies typically under-value these type of claims. They routinely play down the extent that permanent scarring affects a child and they also place little value in the emotional trauma that almost always accompanies a dog attack on a child. This is something that should not be allowed to take place, as the insurance adjuster must fully evaluate all aspects of a claim in order to properly adjust (i.e., value) the claim. Most insurers for the potential defendant, that is the negligent dog owner who puts his or her dog in a position to attack someone unrestrained, want to value these claims by simply tallying the medical bills and paying some form of a multiple of the medical bills. For a number of reasons, this has never been an accurate indicator of the true value of these types of dog bite cases. However, insurance companies started to value these types of cases and other personal injury cases this way, and plaintiff lawyers allowed them to do this. However, this has never resulted in fair valuation to the child plaintiff in these cases and it should not be allowed to be used in any case. Why? Because it will almost always result in the child plaintiff receiving less money in settlement than she would get when the case is properly evaluated by looking at all of the relevant factors that comprise damages in a dog bite on child case. So what are these elements of damages? Well, since you asked, some examples of damages are, but are certainly not limited to: (1) psychological and emotional damages that stem from the attack which can include a fear or phobia of dogs, a fear of doing the same activity that the victim was doing when the attack occurred, a fear of going outside or a generalized anxiety caused by the incident; (2) post traumatic stress disorder caused by the attack; (3) past and future medical bills related to the medical treatment necessary to treat the wounds from the attack; (4) a decreased ability to work and labor once the child is old enough to start working; and (5) general pain and suffering caused by the attack. Obviously, every case is different and this list of damages is in no way complete or exhaustive. However, it does illustrate the TYPES of damages that insurance adjusters for the negligent dog owners simply want to ignore.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling dog bite cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like discuss your case in complete confidence, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.