Instances of animal attacks prompt legal action, leading to numerous dog bite lawsuits in Iowa. Victims often seek recourse through the expertise of a personal injury lawyer, who specializes in navigating the complexities of these cases, advocating for their client's rights, and ensuring fair compensation for their injuries.

These legal proceedings serve to address the physical, emotional, and financial ramifications stemming from such incidents, aiming to secure justice and prevent future occurrences.

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Table of Contents:

What Kinds of Injuries Can Result From a Dog Bite?

When dog bite accidents occur, victims often suffer serious injuries, including:dog biting man's hand in Iowa

  • Facial injuriesA facial scar can be physically and emotionally painful. It can interfere with your self-esteem and impact your quality of life. Children are more likely than adults to suffer facial injuries from a dog bite, but all dog bite victims regardless of age are at risk of suffering this type of injury.
  • Infections. Dangerous and life-threatening infections can result from a dog bite. A prompt diagnosis and treatment plan are essential. Many infections are treated with antibiotics that require a doctor’s prescription.
  • Amputations. Amputation may occur if the dog severs the tendons and muscles in such a way that makes reattachment of an arm, hand, finger, leg, foot, or toe impossible. Amputation may also be necessary if it is the only way to stop an infection.
  • Scarring. Scarring can result from a dog bite or attack. Reconstructive surgery and other treatments may minimize the scarring, but not be able to eliminate it. For many dog bite victims, scarring is a lifetime reminder of the horror they endured.
  • Nerve damage. Nerve damage may be significant or mild and it may be permanent or temporary. Any potential nerve damage should be diagnosed and treated by your doctor.
  • Death. Unfortunately, a dog attack can result in death from bleeding, infection, or other causes.

Who Should You Call About Your Dog Bite Injury Right After It Happens?

Without question, you should contact your loved ones to let them know what happened and to get the moral and practical support that you need during this time. You might also contact your employer or school if you are going to have to miss time, and you might contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to make sure that all of your rights are protected and that your potential financial recovery is not jeopardized.

Also, Report the Dog Bite to the Local Government

Iowa law requires the dog’s owner to report the attack to the local health or law enforcement official. (See Iowa Statute Chapter 351, Section 38). Additionally, physicians and veterinarians may be required to make such reports in some circumstances.

And you have the right to make the report yourself.

The specific agency to which you make the report may vary from county to county or municipality to municipality but could include the city’s animal control officer or the county’s public health department. Most cities and counties have this information on their website for you. The person assigned to investigate your case may determine whether you are at risk for developing rabies and whether the dog is dangerous and other people may be at risk of getting hurt.

But Reporting a Dog Bite Injury Won’t Result in Your Legal Recovery

The animal control officer or other official assigned to your case does not have the right to determine liability, nor does the official have the right to award you damages for the injuries that you have suffered. Instead, to make a fair legal recovery, you are going to have to negotiate a settlement with the dog owner or the dog owner’s insurer, or you are going to have to pursue a court verdict.

How to Pay Bills After a Dog Bite Incident in Iowa

The only direction to go is forward. You can’t go back in time to avoid the dog that hurt you and to prevent your injury. Instead, your focus must be on your recovery. You are working with your doctors on your physical recovery, but how are you going to pay those doctors and your other bills?

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The Answer May Be Through an Iowa Dog Bite Lawsuit or Insurance Claim

Iowa has a specific dog bite statute that provides answers for people who have been hurt by dogs.

First, it is important to know that the statute that is commonly referred to as the Iowa dog bite law does not just apply when a person is bitten by a dog. While it does cover dog bites, it also covers any injury that happens when…

  • A dog was attempting to bite a person.
  • A dog attacks a person but does not bite.
  • A dog is caught in the act of worrying, maiming, or killing a domestic animal or pet.

If you were hurt in one of these situations then you may be able to recover damages unless an exception applies.

Next, it is important to know whether the dog owner is responsible for paying your damages unless an exception to the dog bite law applies. There are two important exceptions to a dog bite lawsuit in Iowa that could prevent you from recovering damages even if you are hurt. Specifically, you may not be able to recover damages if:

  • You were committing an unlawful act that directly contributed to your injury.
  • The dog was suffering from rabies at the time of the attack, and the owner did not have reasonable grounds to know about the illness, so reasonable measures could have been taken to avoid the attack.

Finally, it is important to know what damages you may be able to recover, including:

  • Medical expenses. Any medical costs that you’ve already incurred or that you are likely to incur in the future should be included in your recovery. This includes but is not limited to hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, and doctors’ appointments.
  • Pain and suffering. Your physical pain and emotional suffering may be significant and should be included in your financial recovery.
  • Other damages directly related to your dog bite or attack injury. Any out-of-pocket expenses should be recovered.
  • Lost income. Any income that you have lost, or are likely to lose in the future, should be included in your damage award.

What Should Be Included in Compensation for Lost Income?

Your compensation for lost income after a dog bite should include your past, current, and future:

  • Wages.
  • Bonuses or other incentives.
  • Benefits.
  • Income from being self-employed.

Proving the value of these damages can be difficult, but it is important to do so. Otherwise, you risk losing your income. Your quality of life might suffer because someone else’s dog hurt you.

If you believe that you should be able to recover damages for your dog bite injury, then the next step is to put a specific value on the damages you’ve suffered. This can be difficult and maybe the source of disagreement between you and the dog owner’s insurance company. However, you do not have to figure it out alone. Instead, you have the right to work with a dog bite lawyer who can protect your interests and fight for your fair recovery. If you’d like to find out more, please contact a personal injury lawyer at Hupy and Abraham today.

What You Need to Know When Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Iowa

There are some things that you should be prepared for now. For example, you should know…

  1. You have a limited time to file a case. The Iowa statute of Limitations typically gives you two years to file a case, but there are exceptions to this general rule.
  2. Whether you even have the right to file a case. If you’ve been hurt, or you have a certain legal relationship with the person who was injured, then you may have the right to file a lawsuit.
  3. What to do if it was your child who was hurt by a dog. It’s up to you to protect your child’s legal recovery and you need to take specific actions to do so.
  4. What happens if you or your child was partly responsible for the dog bite. You may still be able to recover damages, but you need to be prepared for the defense’s arguments and you need to understand your rights.
  5. How to collect evidence and protect it. Evidence will be necessary to prove the dog owner’s liability and the extent of your injuries.
  6. What witnesses may be important to your case. Both eyewitnesses and expert witnesses could have an important impact on the outcome of your case.
  7. How dog bite settlements work. It may be possible to settle your case, but it takes work. Find out how to do it here.
  8. Whether you need a lawyer. An attorney can help protect your rights and make sure that you get the full and fair recovery that you deserve.

And this is just the beginning…

What to Expect After Your Dog Bite Lawsuit in Iowa is Filed in Court

Once you file a complaint in state court, the defendant will have the opportunity to file an answer to your complaint. After that, both you and the defendant will have the right to participate in the discovery process and to file motions related to your claim. If the case is not settled before trial or resolved through a motion to the court, then a judge or jury will hear your case and decide whether you should recover damages.

This is a complicated process and one with very real consequences for your future. Accordingly, it is important to talk to an experienced dog bite lawyer before you do anything that could jeopardize your right to a fair recovery. Call us anytime — or read our free dog bite brochure to learn more.

What Kind of Evidence Will You Need?

You will need evidence that includes the following:

  • Medical records to prove the extent of your injuries.
  • Your job description and duties to prove how your injuries prevent you from doing your job.
  • Information about your past income to prove what you were unable to earn. This could include your tax returns and pay stubs, for example.
  • Information about your likely future income to prove what you may be unable to earn in the future. This could include expert testimony.

With this evidence and any other relevant evidence, you may be able to recover fair damages for your lost income.

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Five Tips for Choosing a Reconstructive Surgeon after an Iowa Dog Bite

If you suffered significant scarring or disfigurement from a Iowa dog bite, you might be considering reconstructive plastic surgery. However, plastic surgery is a big step. We’ve all seen pictures of celebrity plastic surgery gone wrong. You know you can’t afford a celebrity plastic surgeon. How do you know that you’ll get good results?

You need a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructive surgery. Our Iowa personal injury lawyers offer these tips for finding a qualified reconstructive surgeon for your  dog bite injuries:

  • Get recommendations. Iowa may not be Hollywood, but there are plenty of plastic surgeons to choose from. Ask your family members, friends, physicians, and nurses for recommendations.
  • Check the plastic surgeon’s credentials. The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) requires all members to meet certain minimum qualifications. Make sure that any plastic surgeon you choose is certified by the APBS. The American Board of Medical Specialties does not recognize other certifying agencies.
  • Make sure the surgeon is skilled in reconstructive surgery. Every plastic surgeon has a specialty. You do not want to have reconstructive surgery on your face performed by a doctor whose expertise is breast enhancement.
  • Schedule a consultation. It is a good idea to meet the doctor before scheduling any work. This gives you a chance to learn about the doctor and the procedure. If you feel uncomfortable, find another doctor.
  • Ask questions. The consultation offers an opportunity to learn more about the doctor’s qualifications. Here are some questions to ask:
    • What is your background?
    • How long have you been practicing?
    • Do you have a specialty?
    • Have you ever treated an injury like mine?
    • May I see before and after pictures?
    • What treatment do you recommend?
    • Are there other options?
    • How many surgeries do you perform each year?
    • Who will administer the anesthesia?
    • What can I expect during the surgery?
    • How long will it take to recover?
    • Are there any risks or possible complications?

If something doesn’t feel right, get a second opinion.

Contact Our Iowa Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Case Evaluation

Worried about paying for reconstructive surgery or need to file a dog bite lawsuit in Iowa?

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Our Iowa personal injury lawyers help dog bite victims get the compensation they need to cover their medical expenses. Contact Hupy and Abraham by clicking the button above, or for immediate assistance, call our office at 800.800.5678.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.