When a lawsuit is filed following a dog bite, the case often doesn't reach courts in California and throughout the United States. Both the plaintiff and defendant in a civil lawsuit could have the motivation to consider settling the case. By doing so, the person who was bitten can receive the money right away to pay for medical treatment. The dog owner, fearing the jury could award a big payout to the victim, can avoid a jury trial.
Just how, then, does a settlement work in a dog bite case?
The amount of compensatory damages to be granted typically is the point of dispute between the two parties. The plaintiff often asks for two types of damages to be awarded: special damages and general damages.
It is easier to come to an agreement on special damages. The person who was injured can present receipts for costs incurred because of the bite, such as the doctor bill for stitches or a hospital bill for more serious injuries, and seek reimbursement.
General damages are things more difficult to put a price tag on, such as disfigurement, pain and suffering or emotional harm.
To figure general damages, many parties like to use claims calculators that make estimates. However, their accuracy frequently is questioned. Additionally, there are circumstances unique to each case that can affect an award. The same injury, for example, can cause different pain and suffering for different people.
Other issues that also affect a lawsuit settlement include insurance coverage, the locale of the incident – rural vs. urban – and the amount of publicity a dog attack has attracted.
Insurance companies might pressure victims to take the first offer. It isn't wise to do so without first contacting a California attorney with experience in these matters. An attorney can weigh all the factors and provide you with a reasonable expectation of a settlement.