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Rhode Island Dog Bite Attorney

Dog Bite Attorney in Rhode Island

With miles of walkable greenbelt trails, plenty of dog parks, and numerous beaches on the nearby Atlantic Coast, it’s common to see dogs out and about all over the state of Rhode Island.

Although most dogs are well-trained and the owners responsibly keep them leashed in public, there are some dogs that may attack, and even the most docile animal may react to a stressful situation.

If you, a family member, or your pet has been bitten by a dog and suffered an injury, you may not know that you have legal options to have your medical care and pain and suffering compensated.

And, we can help. The Rhode Island dog bite attorneys at Sands Law have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients. Contact our Rhode Island dog bite law firm today for a free initial consultation.

Rhode Island Dog Bite and Attack Facts

Dog bites are more common than many realize and can cause severe, sometimes fatal, injuries. Although people often consider a dog to be man’s best friend, these animals can also be very dangerous.

Here are some other facts to consider about dog attacks:

  • 1,000 people on average each day are treated in the ER for non-fatal dog bites
  • 4.5 million dog bites happen each year in the U.S., and 20% of those get infected
  • 27,000 people needed reconstructive surgery in 2018 after a dog attack
  • The average cost for a hospital stay after a dog bite is $18,200
  • The estimated annual losses for dog bite victims are estimated to be as high as $2 billion

Sadly, in a five-year period from 2015 to 2019, victims under ten years old comprised 64% of dog bite fatalities. Rhode Island law states that the owner of a dog that attacks a person or other domesticated animal is liable for the injury and losses the attack causes.

Although a Rhode Island dog bite lawyer cannot bring a loved one back or undo the damage a dog bite causes, they can help you receive compensation for your losses and hold the irresponsible owner accountable. We can also help you file a wrongful death suit for your family.

Common Reasons a Dog Will Attack

Most dog bites happen because the animal feels threatened or cornered and may react aggressively to protect themselves or their owners. Other times, a dog may be provoked unintentionally. Small children may pull the dog’s ears or tail, or bigger kids may play rough with the animal.

Some dogs may be specifically trained by the owner to be “attack dogs” or be trained for fighting. These animals are considered “vicious dogs” under Rhode Island law. Certain breeds, like pit bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds, may also be considered vicious dogs.

It’s important to note that Rhode Island's vicious dog law holds owners liable for any injury their dog causes. In addition, the statute requires owners to carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance to cover their dogs.

Dog Owners Are Liable for Dog Attack Injuries

Rhode Island dog owners have strict liability when it comes to injuries their animal causes that occur outside of the dog’s enclosure such as their house, fenced-in yard, etc.. Under the strict liability statute, owners must pay damages unless the victim was unlawfully in the owner’s enclosed premises.

Rhode Island does have a “one bite” rule for dog attacks that occur within the dog’s enclosure, but if the animal had a previous history of attacks or biting, then the owner owes the victim double the damages.

Catastrophic Injuries from a Dog Attack Change Your Life

Unfortunately, even what looks like a minor injury can cause serious problems. Infection rates for dog bite injuries are high, and the jagged edges of a dog bite wound make suturing and repairing it difficult. Scarring and disfigurement are common after a bite.

If a dog attacks you, you could suffer:

  • Lacerations and soft tissue injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Facial scarring and disfigurement
  • Nerve damage
  • Reduced physical capabilities

You may fall during the attack, break a bone, or twist your ankle. Injuries to the forearms, hands, and fingers are common in a dog mauling, which can cause permanent damage or reduce your dexterity.

Additionally, dog bites carry a serious danger for many diseases, like rabies. You may contract:

  • MRSA
  • Tetanus
  • Pasteurella
  • Capnocytophaga

Dog bite victims also suffer emotionally. The trauma of a sudden attack can cause post-traumatic stress disorder or lead to the victim developing anxiety or a permanent dog phobia. Many people have nightmares after an attack or develop depression due to the scarring from the attack.

As an experienced Rhode Island dog bite law firm, we understand just how comprehensive the losses from an attack can be, and we fight to secure the compensation you’re entitled to.

How Can a Rhode Island Dog Bite Attorney Help You?

Dog bite injuries can be expensive to treat. In fact, the cost of a hospital stay after a dog bite may end up being twice as much as other types of injuries.

Even after being released from the ER, you could be facing costly and extensive aftercare, like physical therapy to regain your abilities, surgery to repair scarring, or therapy to treat the emotional trauma of the attack.

A Rhode Island dog bite lawyer can help you explore your legal options, including filing a suit for damages against the dog owner or person who was in control of the dog at the time of the attack.

1. Prepare a Case Against the Other Party

It’s not unusual for dog owners to claim their dog was protecting themselves or their owner. Don’t be surprised if the dog’s owner claims you provoked the attack somehow.

It’s your Rhode Island dog bite attorney’s job to collect evidence, like witness testimony, photos or videos of the scene and your injuries, and the dog’s history of behavior. Our attorneys have the depth of experience needed in these cases to build a well-constructed case on your behalf.

2. Deal with the Insurance Company for You

Dogs are considered property in Rhode Island. Often, this means that the owner’s homeowners or renters insurance will be the party paying the claim. An insurance adjuster will probably contact you soon after the accident to ask for a statement. You don’t have to talk to them, and in fact, it’s better you don’t.

The insurance company is interested in paying as little as possible or even denying the claim outright. Anything you say to them may be used as an admission that you provoked the attack. Instead, refer the insurance company to your Rhode Island dog bite law firm.

3. Represent You in Trial

Many cases are resolved before they go to trial, whether through settlement, mediation, or arbitration. Often, more cases are settled at or right after arbitration. We can handle your case at every stage of the process.

If we cannot negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company, then we can take your case to trial.

Dog Bite Injury FAQs

A few of the most common questions our Rhode Island dog bite lawyers receive are included here. Contact us for more information.

How Much Is My Dog Bite Claim Worth?

You’re entitled to collect economic damages, or the actual amount of your losses, and non-economic damages, which cover your non-tangible losses. Generally, the worse you’re injured, or if you sustained permanent scarring or disability, your settlement will be higher.

In some cases, a judge may assess punitive damages, or financial punishment, if the dog’s owner acted with complete disregard for the safety of others — for example, if the dog had a history of biting people or if it was trained for fighting.

The Dog Owner’s Insurance Company Offered Me a Settlement — Do I Still Need a Lawyer?

A Rhode Island dog bite attorney can usually get a higher settlement than you can alone. They understand the true value of your claim and may advise you to seek punitive damages at trial.

Do I Need to Report a Dog Bite?

Yes. You need to report the accident to the local police, local Animal Control and the Rhode Island Department of Health. r and report the dog bite. The local Animal Control officer  will take care of quarantining the animal and any other necessary steps. You also need to report the accident to the police and the Rhode Island Department of Health

Do I Need to Go to the Emergency Room After a Dog Bite?

Yes. If the dog has rabies, only swift intervention can keep you from being harmed or infected. In addition, the risk of infection from a dog bite is high, so emergency medical care can reduce your risk for complications after the attack.

In addition, the medical records from your attack prove the extent of your injuries and that they came from the dog’s attack.

Your Rhode Island dog bite attorney uses the medical records to calculate your economic damages and to prove that you may need additional treatment to recover, the cost of which will be calculated when valuing your settlement.

How Much Will It Cost to Hire an Attorney to Represent Me?

You only pay a percentage of your settlement when we win your case — which means you pay nothing up front.

Get Help from an Experienced Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyer

Have you or a loved one been attacked by a dog? We can help!

Contact Sands Law, a top-rated Rhode Island dog bite law firm, for a free case review with a skilled attorney today.

Was the first time I ever had to seek legal representation after a car accident that I was injured in. Rich was recommended to me through a family member, and I am so glad that I decided to be represented by Rich.”
Nicole, Rhode Island
Rich was supportive and helpful throughout a very difficult time for me. I recently got into a car accident where I was injured and my car was declared totaled. In complete panic not knowing what to do, I called Rich.”
Karissa, Rhode Island
Rich was a wealth of knowledge and support during a difficult time. He always made time to explain procedures and answer all questions in a timely manner.”
Mark M., Rhode Island
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