If you've suffered a canine attack, there are likely a number of things going through your head. After receiving medical treatment for your injuries, you'll likely turn your attention to recovering, not just physicially, but financially as well. Below, our Madison dog bite lawyer with years of experienced and proven, unparalleled results discusses everything you need to know about how to recover, from the laws in Wisconsin to why it's important to hire an attorney and so much more.

Understanding the Dog Bite Laws in Madison

Wisconsin is a strict liability dog bite state. That means that dog owners are typically always liable for injuries caused by their dogs. According to state law:

  • Dog owners are generally liable for the full amount of damages if their dog injures a person, domestic animal, or property.
  • Dog owners are liable for two times the full amount of damages caused by a dog biting a person with sufficient force to break the skin and cause permanent physical scarring or disfigurement if the dog owner was notified or knew that the dog had previously, without provocation, bitten a person with sufficient force to break the skin and cause permanent physical scarring or disfigurement.

Additional penalties beyond the amount of actual damages may also be imposed on a dog owner as follows:

  • If the dog owner did not have prior notice that the dog could be dangerous, then the dog owner is subject to a penalty of not less than $50 and not more than $2,500 if the dog injures a person, domestic animal, property, deer, game birds or the nests or eggs of game birds.
  • If the dog owner had notice that the dog could be dangerous, then the dog owner is subject to a penalty of not less than $200 and not more than $5,000 if the dog injures or causes injury to a person, domestic animal, property, deer, game birds or the nests or eggs of game birds.

Wisconsin Dog Bite Statute of Limitations

If you have been hurt by someone else’s dog, then your time to take action is limited by Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin statute of limitations gives you just three years to file a lawsuit, so it is essential to learn about your rights and to pursue a recovery quickly.

Dog Bite Injury Statistics You Should Know

important dog bite injury statistics

How a Madison Dog Bite Lawsuit Works

Dog bite cases, while considered to be under the umbrella of personal injury, are handled a bit differently in the eyes of the law. Below, our Madison dog bite lawyer goes into detail about what to know before filing and how the legal process plays out.

Eight Things to Know Before Filing a Complaint in Court

Your dog bite case will officially begin when you file a complaint in a Wisconsin state court. Before you take that important step, however, it is important to know:

  • That you have a limited time to file a lawsuit. The Wisconsin statute of limitations limits the amount of time that you have to file a case in court. In most cases you have three years from the date that you were injured, but in some cases that time may be lengthened or shortened.
  • Whether you have a legal right to file a lawsuit. This is known as standing to sue. You have standing to sue if you were the one who was hurt, if you are the parent of a minor child or the legal guardian of someone who cannot bring a case independently, or if you are the administrator of the estate of a person who died from dog bite injuries.
  • How to collect and protect evidence that is important to your case. It's important to collect evidence such as photographs, video footage, and witness testimony and make sure it is protected so that it can be used in your case.
  • What witnesses may be important to your recovery. People who saw the dog bite you and certain expert witnesses who may prove what happened or the value of your injuries can be important to your recovery.
  • What could happen if you were partly to blame for your dog bite injury. You may be able to recover damages even if you were partly to blame for the dog bite as long as you were not primarily responsible for the dog bite.
  • How dog bite settlements work. Settlements take negotiation and have binding consequences. There are advantages to settling your case, however, if you can do so fairly.
  • How to protect the rights of your child after a dog bite injury. It is up to you as a parent to protect the right of your minor child who has been bitten by a dog. This requires taking certain actions to protect your child’s financial recovery.
  • Whether you need an attorney. Dog bite cases can be complicated and hotly contested. Accordingly, our experienced dog bite lawyer in Madison can help you make sure that your rights are protected and that you get the recovery that you deserve.

The Dog Bite Lawsuit Process in Madison

  • Filing a complaint in state court. The complaint will set forth what happened, why you have a lawsuit, and what compensation you should recover.
  • The defendant answering the complaint. The defendant will respond to the allegations in your complaint.
  • Engaging in discovery. You will ask for certain documentation and statements from the defendant, and the defendant will request documentation and statements from you as you both seek to learn more about the case.
  • Filing motions. You and the defendant may both file various motions with the court. Some of these motions may seek an early judgment as a matter of law and others may relate to deciding evidentiary matters.
  • Presenting your case to the court. Many cases settle before trial. However, if yours does not, then you may need to present arguments and evidence to the court to prove what happened. After that, the judge or jury will decide your case.

3 Steps to Recovering From a Dog Bite Accident

If you have been hurt in a canine attack, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your future. Those steps include:

  • Seeing a doctor. Whether you are bit by a golden retriever or a pit bull, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Dog bite injuries can be significant and may require emergency room care. It will be important to determine if the dog was sick when it bit you, how badly the dog hurt you, and whether scarring is likely.
  • Taking care of yourself. It is important to follow your doctor’s orders after a dog bite injury. Otherwise, you may risk aggravating your injury and suffering more than you are already enduring.
  • Consulting an experienced dog bite attorney. A Madison dog bite lawyer who has experience with the unique aspects of dog bite law may be able to help you get the recovery that you need after a dog bite injury.

How to Find the Best Dog Bite Lawyer in Madison

There are a number of things you should look for when trying to track down the best dog bite lawyer in Madison. First and foremost is experience. Make sure that whoever you hire has years of experience actually handling dog bite cases. An attorney may handle personal injury cases, but may only have limited experience dealing with dog bites. Ask your potential Madison dog bite lawyer about specific cases they’ve handled.

You’ll also want to know how past clients interacted with the attorney and if they had a successful claim. Watching (above) and reading client reviews on Google, and legal directories can go a long way towards determining whether or not you found the best dog bite lawyer in Madison or not.

What Damages Our Madison Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help You Recover

According to Wisconsin Statutes section 174.02, Wisconsin dog bite damages may include:

  • Full damages for injuries caused to a person, domestic animal, or property if this was the first time that the dog caused an injury.
  • Two times the full amount of damages if the dog had previously injured a person, domestic animal, or property. Double damages only apply if the dog owner was notified that the dog had previously caused an injury or knew of the previous injury.
  • A penalty of $50 to $2,500 for an injury without notice. An injury without notice is either the first injury caused by the dog or the first injury that the owner knew about (or should have known about).
  • dog bite lawyer Madison WIA penalty of $200 to $5,000 for an injury after notice of a prior injury.

Of course, your specific recovery depends on the unique injuries that you suffered.

Specific Types of Damages

There are many complications that you may suffer and many costs that you may incur after a dog bite. These damages can and should be sought after by you and your legal team. According to our Madison dog bite lawyer, some of the damages a canine attack victim can recover include:

  • Medical bills. A dog bite can create a lot of damage that needs the attention of medical professionals. The past, present, and future medical bills relating to the dog bite injuries can be recovered.
  • Lost income. A bite from a vicious dog may lead to temporary disability as you recover from your injuries. Your personal injury claim can recoup the income you would have earned if you needed time away from work to recover from your wounds.
  • Out-of-pocket costs. This includes any expenses made necessary by your dog bite, such as child care, household help, or transportation.
  • Pain and suffering. Dealing with everything relating to the traumatic incident can cause a lot of emotional hardship. The monetary damages incurred from the emotional distress suffered will calculated in the claim. Additionally, you may be able to recover for your physical pain.

It may have been a friend, relative, or neighbor who owns the dog that caused your injuries. We understand that it can be emotionally difficult to pursue damages against someone whom you care about. However, it is important to know that homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may cover your damages in some cases.

Contact Our Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer in Madison Right Now!

You have been seriously hurt by someone else’s dog and you should get a fair recovery. The recovery process may be complicated, but it is possible to get the compensation that you deserve.

If you would like to know more about protecting your rights or about how to fight for the recovery that you deserve, then please call our experienced Madison dog bite lawyer any time—24/7—at 1-800-800-5678.

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