Visitor Question

Attacked by pitbull on client’s property…

Submitted By: Bobby (Fayetteville, North Carolina)

I’m a garage door repairman and was attacked by a pitbull on a client’s property while performing a scheduled repair. I asked the lady of the house numerous times to please put the dog away but she didn’t and it ended up attacking me. I have a workers comp claim and a personal injury claim open.

I just got back from the orthopedic doctor who says I need surgery on my left forearm due to damage from the attack. It has all been documented. An animal control report was filed. I had to get 14 rabies shots because they never got the dog immunized.

I still haven’t been seen by workers comp. They’re really dragging their feet. I have an appointment tomorrow almost 2 hours away for my leg that’s healed. I told her from the get go it was my forearm, but she tried saying “oh I thought it was the shoulder and that’s an old injury.”

So now almost 2 and a half months later I still haven’t been seen by the workers comp doctor. My doctor has all findings and scheduled surgery, but I have to wait so I can be seen by the workers comp doctor, right? Also, can I file a claim against the homeowner? I’m kind of at a loss as to how to go about this. Any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.

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.


Dear Bobby,

This are two issues to be addressed:

Workers Compensation:

According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, if an employer fails or refuses to provide medical treatment, the employee may obtain the necessary treatment from a physician or hospital of his or her own choice, but must promptly notify the workers comp insurance company and request their approval.

If you are experiencing serious pain and discomfort resulting from your work-related injuries, do not hesitate to seek emergency medical care. There is no reason you have to remain in pain because the workers compensation adjuster is “dragging her feet.” However, be sure to notify the adjuster promptly after you receive the medical care.

Because you were injured at work, you are entitled to appropriate medical care at your employer’s expense. The medical care can include any care necessary to cure, reduce the period of disability, or provide you relief. Medical care can also include home modifications and assistive devices if your injuries permanently impair your mobility.

Third Party Liability:

While you are not permitted to seek compensation for your pain and suffering from workers compensation, you have a right to pursue a third party action against the dog owner. This means you have every right to demand the owner compensate you for your injuries and related expenses.

There is a caveat… While you are entitled to pursue a third party claim against the dog owner, a portion of funds you receive will likely have to be turned over to the workers compensation insurance company (this is known as “subrogation”). However, because workers comp does not pay for pain and suffering, any compensation you receive from the dog owner for your pain and suffering will be yours to keep.

Because of the seriousness of your injuries you would be best served by seeking the advice and counsel of several personal injury attorneys in your area. An attorney will be able to pursue the case for you and you will not have to pay any legal fees or costs of the case until, and unless your attorney succeeds.

Gather your medical bills and workers compensation documents and seek out several personal injury attorneys in your area. They will be able to give you a better idea of the viability of a third party injury claim, and its likely success.

Learn more here: Coverage Specifics for Homeowners

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!


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