Multnomah County Animal Attack Lawyer
Dogs bite millions of people every year. Most of these victims are young children. Many of these attacks only cause mild injuries. But some of these attacks cause serious injuries. These injuries can also lead to other emotional injuries. A dog bite victim may seem fine from the outside, but on the inside, everything is far from fine.
Oregon dog bite law is incredibly complex. The web of laws tries to strike a middle ground between pet owners, who favor lax dog bite laws, and victims, who favor strong dog bite laws. Both sides have valid points. Pet owners should be able to rescue dogs with troubled backgrounds and give them good homes. Victims should be able to obtain fair compensation for their serious injuries.
This debate stops when a victim reaches out to the dedicated Portland dog bite attorneys at Strong Law. Our dedication is the main reason we have won over 98 percent of the personal injury cases we have handled. We only represent personal injury victims. So, we are committed to upholding their legal and financial rights. These legal rights include having their day in court. These financial rights include fair compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.FREE CONSULTATION
Why Choose Us
One reason we win 98 percent of our cases is that we have developed proven methods over the years. These methods have obtained life-changing results for our clients in the past. We are confident the same result will happen in your claim.
The combination of skills that our team has is another reason for our high success rate. These skills include:
- Experience: Quite simply, there is no substitute for experience in this area. Our dog bite lawyers are familiar with all local rules and procedures, including unwritten rules and procedures. So, we do not learn on the job. Instead, we focus on obtaining compensation for you.
- Accessibility: We have several offices in Portland and Washington. Chances are, one of them is near your home or office. Furthermore, our Multnomah County animal attack lawyers are accessible. Jed Strong or one of our other lead attorneys assumes primary responsibility for every aspect of your legal case.
- Dedication: We do not handle a few dog bite cases on the side. Instead, we focus exclusively on serious personal injury cases, like dog bites, falls, and car accidents. We believe that negligent parties, like the rest of us, should be held responsible for the mistakes they make. So, we work hard to build a strong, evidence-based case that leads to maximum compensation.
Our skill set goes beyond the courtroom. Over the years, we have developed professional relationships with doctors who know how to diagnose and treat dog bite injuries. Normally, these professionals charge nothing upfront for their medical services.
Contact us today: 206-741-1053
Dog Bite Injuries
We touched on the physical and emotional injuries that dog bites cause. These injuries are usually life-threatening, or at least life-altering.
Physical injuries usually begin with a violent knockdown. That is especially true if, as is usually the case, the dog is a large animal, and the victim is a small child. Knockdown injuries include head injuries and broken bones.
Then, when dogs bite, their teeth often cause deep puncture wounds as well as severe lacerations. These puncture wounds often cause internal bleeding. This form of slow, steady bleeding is hard to spot and even harder to stop. The tearing lacerations are just as bad.
These serious injuries often require treatment at specialty regional trauma centers. These trauma centers are much more expensive than ordinary hospitals. Even after doctors finish their work, the physical scars linger.
These physical scars often cause emotional scars, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Common PTSD symptoms, like flashbacks, nightmares, anger, and depression, make it difficult or impossible for victims to function in everyday life.
Secondary injuries are quite common as well. Dog bite wounds have extremely high infection rates. A bacterial infection usually starts suddenly and ends tragically. Unfortunately, many medical teams are caught flat-footed in these situations, especially if the victim is in a recovery area. Usually, a dog bite lawyer can obtain compensation for medical malpractice injuries in a separate claim.
Evaluating Your Case
The complex Oregon dog bite laws mentioned above mean that victims usually have four legal options. Some of them are only available in certain situations. All of them have pros and cons.
- Strict Liability: Under Section 31.360 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, owners are strictly liable for economic losses. These losses are mostly medical bills. This law is so broad that many pet owners refuse to enforce it, even if a dog-bite lawyer produces substantial evidence on this point.
- Ordinary Negligence: Basically, ordinary negligence is a lack of ordinary care. A lack of care could be allowing a small child to play near a large dog. If a lack of care causes injury, compensation is available. These claims are often rather straightforward, but less compensation may be available.
- Scienter: Scienter, or knowledge, is also known as the one-bite rule. Owners are liable for all damages, both economic and non-economic, if they knew the animal was dangerous. Pre-bite behavior, like aggressive barking, is usually the best evidence on this point. Even pet owners can be found owner liable in these cases since the owner failed to control their animal.
- Negligence Per Se: Most towns and cities in Multnomah County have strict leash laws, fence laws, and other animal restraint laws. If an owner violates one of these laws, and that violation substantially caused injury, the owner might be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Two key defenses, provocation, and assumption of the risk are generally available in these cases. Provocation is the only recognized defense in strict liability cases.
If it applies, provocation could be an absolute defense to a dog bite claim. In the everyday world, provocation might mean aggressive teasing that is unintentional. But in a dog bite case, provoking an animal is a physical act that is like torturing an animal. Additionally, provocation is intentional. A victim cannot accidentally provoke a dog. In fact, as a matter of law, small children cannot provoke animals.
Assumption of the risk could apply if the owner put up a “Beware of Dog” or other warning sign. But a sign is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
First, an insurance company lawyer must prove the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant. Second, assumption of the risk typically reduces compensation but does not eliminate it, depending on the level of the victim’s fault.
How a Portland Dog Bite Attorney Helps You
Since dog bites cause such serious injuries, our animal attack attorneys take care of first things first. As mentioned, we connect victims with doctors who, in most cases, charge nothing upfront for their professional services. Additionally, attorneys negotiate with these providers and often reduce their fees. As a result, a victim could get to keep more of the settlement money, under Oregon’s complicated collateral source rule.
Next, we evaluate your case and determine all your legal options, so you can make the best possible choices for yourself and your family.
Then, we collect evidence that supports your claims and refutes insurance company defenses, like assumption of the risk and provocation. Medical bills usually form the bulk of this evidence. But only the right kind of medical bills will do.
These documents must clearly indicate the nature and extent of the victim’s injuries. Furthermore, in most cases, an independent doctor must verify that the charges were reasonable.
An independent doctor also helps establish non-economic damages and likely future medical costs. Independent doctors, along with lay witnesses, testify about the effects of injuries and the victim’s pain level. Additionally, unless a dog bite settlement fully accounts for all likely future medical costs, the victim could be financially responsible for these expenses.
Finally, when the case goes to court, we fight for you, in both the courtroom and around the negotiating table.
Judges usually resolve preliminary issues, such as liability and damages, in a series of pretrial hearings. We prepare for all these hearings very carefully. Usually, students who do their homework do well on tests.
Perhaps more importantly, we handle all negotiations with the pet owner’s insurance company. These negotiations usually begin once medical treatment is at least substantially complete, so our dog bite lawyers can accurately set the claim’s settlement value.
During negotiations, our professionals know when to compromise and when to stand firm. Therefore, our clients do not have to settle for less, and their settlements are not unduly delayed. These settlements are usually quite high. The injuries are severe, the owners are usually clearly responsible for damages, and homeowners’ insurance policies usually have high coverage limits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most people have many questions about their dog bite and other personal injury claims. We are always willing to answer these questions.
What Should You Do If a Dog Bites You?
Always immediately see a doctor and a lawyer. Only a doctor can tell how badly you are hurt, and only a dog bite lawyer can determine how much compensation may be available.
Many dog bite victims do not immediately see doctors, usually because they do not “feel” injured. That feeling is quite common. Adrenaline masks pain. Do not trust your feelings. Dog bite injuries are degenerative. The longer you wait to get treatment, the worse these injuries become.
Frequently, insurance company adjusters make settlement offers within a few hours of a dog bite. Only a lawyer can determine if that offer is fair. Furthermore, a lawyer handles all insurance company negotiations, so victims can concentrate on getting better.
Do I Need to Worry After a Dog Bite?
Absolutely. Even a seemingly minor dog bite could cause serious injuries that are usually invisible.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the best example. All personal injuries cause post-traumatic stress. Common symptoms include nightmares, depression, anger, and flashbacks. If these symptoms do not improve in a couple of weeks, or if they get worse instead of better, you may have PTSD. If caught early enough, a combination of therapy and medication usually controls PTSD and may even eliminate it. But there is a very narrow window. Any treatment delay could cause PTSD to become a disabling injury.
Furthermore, dog bites have exceedingly high infection rates, especially if victims do not get immediate medical treatment. Frequently, these infections are worse than the bites that caused them.
What Are My Legal Options After a Dog Bite?
Animal attack victims in Oregon generally have four legal options: strict liability, negligence, scienter (knowledge), and negligence per se.
Under Oregon law, pet owners are strictly liable for medical bills and other economic losses, even if they did not know the animal might be dangerous. The provocation defense could apply in some situations.
Owners are usually negligent if they fail to properly control their animals, especially if a dog is near an older adult, young child, or another vulnerable victim. Third parties, such as employers and landlords, could be vicariously liable for damages in these situations.
Scienter is also known as the one-bite rule. Owners are liable for both economic and non-economic damages if they knew the animal was vicious and that animal attacked someone. Evidence of knowledge includes pre-bite behavior, like loud barking and sudden lunging.
Negligence ‘per se’ is a violation of a fence law, leash law, or other animal control law that causes injury.
Do I Automatically Get a Settlement?
Unfortunately, no. Several defenses, such as provocation and assumption of the risk could apply in these cases.
Provoking a dog is an intentional, physical act that is almost like torturing a dog. Assumption of the risk could apply if the victim saw the warning sign, could read that sign, and could understand the sign’s meaning. These are all “ifs” in most cases.
“Excellent attorneys and staff!! My attorney, Peter, and his paralegal, Katrina, went ABOVE & BEYOND to get me a settlement that was even higher than my own personal bottom line. I highly recommend Strong Law for all your personal injury claims. I would not have been able to navigate this 3-year long journey without them! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”