Son attacked by neighbor's dog...

by Bridget
(Lancaster, CA)

My 9 year old son was bit in the arm by the neighbor's dog while playing in their backyard. The bite included 4 puncture wounds and 2 tears. The 2 week healing process was very difficult.

The dog's owners are renters and have no insurance. I want to write a demand letter for compensation but don't know what is reasonable for my son's pain and suffering. I gave the neighbor a notification letter and he responded and said he will pay the medical bills. I am figuring out my costs and the medical bills only total $217, plus $22 out-of-pocket for prescriptions and a splint. I had 1hr and a half of missed work.

My son had to sit on the bench for 2 weeks, and had trouble writing and playing x-box. He had 3 doctor visits and will have to cover up the wound this summer so the wound doesn't get sunburned. What is a reasonable amount to demand so we can settle out of court? Is there anything else we need to do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Son attacked by neighbor's dog...":

Bridget (Lancaster, CA):

In most cases, a fair way to calculate a demand for a personal injury settlement is to take the amount of medical bills and multiply them from anywhere from 1½ - 3x, sometimes up to 5x and even higher, dependent upon the nature and severity of the injury.

Your son’s injuries were serious enough to have required medical attention on 3 different occasions. While you mention your son went to a doctor on 3 different occasions, it doesn't appear the wounds were deep enough to have required emergency room treatment.

There doesn't seem to be evidence of a permanent injury, including a need for cosmetic surgery.

Because the puncture wounds are "soft tissue" injuries, the amount of compensation you can reasonably expect to recover will be reimbursement for your son’s medical bills, your out-of-pocket expenses (for prescriptions and a splint, parking fees at the doctor’s office, prorated costs of gasoline to and from the doctor’s office, etc.), your lost wages, and an amount for your son’s pain and suffering.

You are not entitled to vicarious pain and suffering compensation.

Soft tissue injuries normally include minor puncture wounds, cuts abrasions, sprained ligaments, tendons or muscles, whiplash, and the like. More serious "hard injuries" can include head trauma, deep cuts requiring emergency treatment, and/or multiple stitches, fractures, and the like.

Soft tissue injuries normally settle for about 1.5 - 3 times the amount of a person's medical bills. The multiple is meant to cover pain and suffering.

For example, if you were to settle you son’s injury claim for 3 times medical bills, the amount would be $651. Subtracting your son's medical bills of $217 would bring the amount to $434.00. Let’s say your out-of-pocket expenses came to $50, and your lost wages were $30. That would be another $80, leaving the net amount for your son’s pain and suffering at $354.

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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