Hand and back wounds from attack while walking my chihuahua...

by Annie
(Boulder, Colorado)

I was walking my chihuahua, she was harnessed and on a leash. We were on the sidewalk and a large dog appeared in an open doorway. The dog began running at us and lunged at my dog. I pulled my dog by her leash away from the attacking dog. I was trying to pick up my dog and I got knocked down, the other dog bit my hand.

I continued to try and pick up my dog. As I did this, the other dog kept coming at me and bit me again on the back.

The bite punctured the web space between the middle and ring finger of my right hand. I went to the ER with wounds and incredible pain in my hand. I am right handed, work as a flight attendant and just became a nurse. I saw a hand specialist last week and it's possible I have nerve damage.

It is now 10 days since this occurred, I haven't been able to work, my hand is still throbbing and my finger is numb.

The owners of the attacking dog have been honest and straight forward with me and with the animal control officer. They admitted the dog had previously 'gone after' the mail carrier but it did not result in a bite or injury. The gardener who witnessed the incident said the dog was used for breeding and had not been 'fixed'. The dog is 7 years old.

I'm wondering what my next step should be? I'm really concerned that my hand is still very painful and that I don't have feeling in one of my fingers. I'm also worried as I haven't been able to work for the past week.

Is this something I can handle on my own or should I consult an attorney? The dog owners have been honest and they aren't denying liability. How should I proceed? Any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Hand and back wounds from attack while walking my chihuahua...":

Annie (Boulder, Colorado):

Hopefully the dog owners carry homeowners insurance. If so, you will be able to seek compensation under their homeowner's policy.

Most homeowners insurance policies contain a "no-fault" provision. Under the no-fault provision you won't have to prove the dog owners were negligent. All you'll have to do is show the dog bit you and you will be paid. Unfortunately under the no-fault provision the insurance company will only pay up to about a thousand dollars for your medical bills.

If you want to be compensated in an amount higher than one thousand dollars you will have to prove the dog owners were "negligent." Under your fact scenario you present, proving negligence shouldn't be difficult, especially because the dog owners have accepted responsibility, or "liability" for the dog attack.

Under the negligence, or "personal liability" provision of your neighbor's homeowner's policy you have a right to compensation for your medical bills, out of pocket expenses for prescription and non prescription medications, etc., lost wages, and for your pain and suffering.

There are some insurance claims which can be handled without an attorney. They usually include minor injuries like cuts and bruises, sprained muscles, and the like. Your injuries are much more serious and will require the assistance of a personal injury attorney.

Before you do anything else, contact several personal injury attorneys. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation. Additionally, you won't have to pay any legal fees in advance. The attorneys fees will be contingent upon succeeding in your claim.

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,

Judge Calisi

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