Visitor Question

Attacked by a Dog at My Wedding…

Submitted By: Aaron (WA)

About a month ago (while at my own wedding taking wedding photos at a lodge we rented) myself and my dog were attacked by the lodge property owner’s son’s dog. This happened in Washington state.

I received a bite on my left hand with 4 deep puncture marks, and left my dog with severe damage to his neck and back, requiring two surgeries and over $1,200 in vet bills. My wound, although painful did not require stitches and medical bills were only around $150 for the doctor to clean and treat it.

Due to the attack, we could not finish our wedding photos, had to cancel our honeymoon, and created a lot of stress and anxiety due to not knowing if the dog had rabies or not for several days. The owner had let his dogs run free without supervision, and did not help us in any way after the attack happened, including no help finding a hospital or providing any assistance at all.

Even though my medical bills were only $150, and if I apply the multiplying by 4x rule of thumb, that only leaves $600 to cover pain and suffering and medical bills, which seems very low considering all the problems this attack has caused, especially with it happening while I was taking my wedding photos.

Would property insurance cover punitive and negligence damages as well? If so, how do you come up with a number like that? Thank you for your help.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Aaron,

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that the lodge owner’s dog ruined what would probably have been a wonderful wedding and honeymoon.

Pursuing the lodge owner for damages is certainly possible. The “Rule of Thumb” you speak of though, probably won’t apply.

Personal injury cases are sometimes settled for the actual amount of the damages. Others twice that amount, while still others 3x, 4x, or many more times the actual amount of damages.

Regrettably your case may not be worth more than your doctor’s bill.

The anxiety and stress you suffered during those wedding days does not rise to the level of “Pain and Suffering” (or “Emotional Distress”) necessary to make the “leap” to a higher settlement.

Pain and Suffering and Emotional Distress must be based upon the pain and suffering or emotional distress which are proximately related to the actual injury, and are of a substantial nature.

Pain and Suffering:

An example might be a person who was injured in a vehicular collision. That person had to go through intensive therapy and had to remain in excruciating pain for an extended period of time, all due to the injury.

Emotional Distress:

For emotional distress a person’s anxiety about the outcome of a dangerous surgery, or a parent having to be hospitalized after an injury, and as a result not being able to see, touch or hear their child for that period of time they remain in the hospital.

Regrettably your anxiety about the wedding problems probably doesn’t rise to the level of emotional distress or pain and suffering. Absent Pain and Suffering or Emotional Distress there are no punitive damages. You can however pursue the at-fault party for monetary losses.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: December 3, 2011

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