4 year old bitten in the face...
My daughter was bitten in the face by an acquaintance's dog on the front porch of their home. We live in AZ. The owner's children were hanging on the dog and my child was standing near his head. He snapped to the side and caught her cheek. She had 1 puncture wound that required 4 stitches.
The owner immediately agreed to pay for medical costs (I have it in writing). The dog was not vaccinated and had to be quarantined.
All I asked her for was my out of pocket expenses for medication and scar creme, but she has neglected to pay anything. The dog ended up passing away about 2 months after the incident from cancer and now they are brushing the situation under the rug.
Should I pursue a claim with their homeowners insurance? The scar is small but prominent and I don't want my daughter to be self conscious as she gets older. She is also now extremely afraid of large dogs. What's the best course of action here? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "4 year old bitten in the face...":
There are some injury claims which can be handled without legal representation. In this case, you already made a good faith effort to have the neighbor compensate you for the financial losses directly associated with your daughter's injury. That effort was clearly futile.
From the facts you present, liability is clear and uncontested. Your daughter took no action which might have been construed as causing the dog to react and bite her. As a result, under Arizona law the neighbor may be responsible for the injuries to your daughter and resulting costs.
Arizona Revised Statute Section 11-10-20 reads:
"Injury to any person or damage to any property by a dog while at large shall be the full responsibility of the dog owner or person or persons responsible for the dog when such damages were inflicted."
In most cases, homeowners insurance covers such events. Unfortunately, with your neighbor's continued stonewalling, it will be impossible to know if a homeowners insurance policy was in effect at the time of the biting.
Your daughter sustained a permanent scar. Whether small or large, the scarring is a form of permanent disfigurement. As a result, your daughter's best interests would be served by seeking legal representation.
An experienced personal injury attorney has the training and knowledge required to pierce through the neighbor's stonewalling and get right to their homeowner's insurance. This is true whether the neighbor wants to cooperate or not. Attorneys can have subpoenas issued, take depositions, conduct pretrial discovery, learn policy limits, and more. These are all actions you could not undertake on your own.
Moreover, personal injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations. If you can find an attorney who will agree to represent your daughter, you will only be obligated to pay attorney's fees in the event the attorney succeeds in settling the injury claim, or winning it in court.
Generally acceptable attorney's fees in personal injury claims range from about 25% to 40%, depending upon the difficulty of the case and the fee you agreed to when first retaining the attorney.
Gather your daughter's doctor bills, receipts for the cream, and other out of pocket expenses. Make several appointments with personal injury attorneys in your area. After reviewing the underlying facts and discussing the case with you and your daughter, the attorneys will be better able to tell you the viability of your claim and the probability of success.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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