Nephew's dog bit my eye...

by Steve
(Henderson, NV)

I live in Nevada and went back to my home town in North Dakota to hunt upland game. My nephew from Minnesota came too. We were at my parent's house in ND. I went to get onto the floor in the living room and my nephew's large black lab bit me in the right eye.

I was taken by ambulance to Bismarck ND for approximately 50 stitches and an overnight stay in the hospital. I have not regained all of my sight yet and it looks pretty bad still. Should I get a lawyer or handle this myself? I'd feel bad filing a lawsuit against my nephew, is there any way around this? Thanks for any information.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Nephew's dog bit my eye...":

Steve (Henderson, NV):

You gave five basic choices...

First: If your parents have homeowners insurance you can file a claim with their insurance company.

Second: You can ask your nephew to help pay some or all of your medical bills and related expenses (such as medications, bandages, etc.), and lost wages.

Third: You can file a personal injury lawsuit against your nephew. In that suit you can request compensation for your medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Fourth: You can turn to your own medical insurance company for coverage.

Fifth: You can contact the hospital and ambulance company and ask them for a payment plan to permit you to pay the bills over time.

There are some issues with filing a lawsuit against your nephew. To succeed in a personal injury lawsuit will require a showing of negligence. From the facts you present, it doesn't appear your nephew was negligent. In fact, you may have been negligent in getting on the floor with the black lab.

Moreover, unless your nephew has sufficient assets to cover your medical bills and related damages, suing him will be an exercise in futility.

Finally, the quickest way to alienate a family member is to sue him or her. That should be obvious.

If you decide to file a lawsuit against your nephew, you can do so in Henderson Justice Court. Effective October 1st, 2015 the jurisdictional (maximum amount) a plaintiff can sue for was raised to $10,000.00.

While you can represent yourself in small claims court, most serious injury claims like yours require legal representation. Serious injury claims often involve contentious negotiations with insurance companies, and hiring medical experts to testify as to the type, severity and permanency of the injury.

In many cases, filing a lawsuit may be required. However, for an attorney to accept your case you would have to have some evidence of negligence. There just doesn't appear to be any in this case. To help you decide whether or not you need an attorney, read this article and this one.

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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