What to do if my 10 year old son was bitten by a neighbor’s dog?

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What to do if my 10 year old son was bitten by a neighbor’s dog?

Animal Control has deemed it an unprovoked attack. He endured 4 puncture wounds to his right arm, and horrible bite injury to his left hand. My son is not insured. The owner’s of the dog have verbally offered to cover all medical expenses endured as a result of this injury. They have offered a check to me for $1000 and stated that if the cost was more than that to let them know. I have no guarantee that they won’t back out, and I fear that his trip to the emergency room will cost more than that. If I cash this check am I agreeing to settle for that? I’m certainly not out to make money on our tragedy but I want to know they’ll be responsible for the fiduciary cost for this incident?

Asked on September 29, 2014 under Personal Injury, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If there is no agreement that the $1,000 check represents payment in full, then you would be able to sue them (if necessary) for more later--e.g. suppose the total medical cost  is $2,500.  If you already received $1,000, then you could sue for the remaining $1,500.

The risk to you  is that, with an oral (unwritten agreement) that  they will pay more if necessary, suppose they change their minds and lie, and claim the check was payment in full and  you'd agreed to take it as pyament in full; in that case, if you tried to sue them, if a judge found their testimony that the check was settlement in full credible or believable, you'd be unable to recover any more money. You need to weigh the risk of that happening vs. how much you need the $1,000 vs. what you think the cost could add up to, before deciding whether to cash the check or not.


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