Can I be compensated for lost wages , medical cost and punitive damages?

I was delivering mail on my route to a customer house and two dogs were playing in the yard beside the house I was at. When I proceeded to that house the dogs approached me on the side of the house. One dog stopped and backed up but the other jumped and attacked me biting me in my right hand and bruising and scratching me in the chest area. No one was outside with the dogs before or during the initial attack. The owner then heard what was going on and had to come outside to get his dog off of me. I was already going through a difficult time with being the soul supporter for my family of 7. My family and I were one step away from being out on the streets and this incident has not only bought that to past but created an even bigger problem. I now have no income coming in and my employer is delaying my workers comp request and wage payments.

Asked on October 6, 2017 under Personal Injury, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can sue if the dog was a dangerous dog (e.g. was known to have attacked others before) or was not properly confined or restrained. On the other hand, if the dog was not known to be dangerous and was properly confined or restrained, you are unlikely to win; that means generally, if the dog was fenced or otherwise kept to the owner's property and had never bitten anyone before, you probably will not win the case.
If you do win, you can get lost wages due to the bite and any out-of-pocket-medical bills (not covered or paid by insurance, Medicaid, etc.) you incurred; possible some amount for "pain and suffering" if the bite cause significant long-lasting (typically months or more) disability or life-impairment. You *cannot* recover punitive damages unless you can show that the dog owner deliberately set the dog on you. And you do not get anything more for your family's emotion or financial stress, since that situation (e.g. a lack of financial resources) has nothing to do with the dog owner: he did not cause your life situation and is not responsible for it.

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