If my son got bitten by a dog in a place of business, how should I proceed from here?

It was the owner’s dog. What do I need to do to sue them?

Asked on August 3, 2015 under Personal Injury, North Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Prior to filing a lawsuit, it may be possible to settle the case with the dog owner's insurance carrier for the business.

When your son completes his medical treatment and is released by the doctor, obtain the medical bills and medical reports.  I assume your son is a minor and therefore doesn't have a claim for wage loss.  Your son's claim filed with the dog owner's insurance should include these items.

Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.

The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your son's injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

If your son's case is settled with the dog owner's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the dog owner's insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the dog owner.  If the dog has a history of biting, an additional cause of action (claim) should be included for strict liability.  If the dog does not have a history of biting, your claim in your lawsuit would only include negligence.

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable dog owner would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

Strict liability imposes liability whether or not due care was exercised.

If your son is a minor, you will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on his behalf because a minor cannot file a lawsuit himself.

If the case is NOT settled with the dog owner's insurance carrier, the lawsuit on behalf of your son must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your son will lose his rights forever in the matter.


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