How to Find the Best Dog Bite Attorney in Philadelphia
Best Dog Bite Attorney in Philadelphia
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Best Dog Bite Attorney in Philadelphia
After being seriously injured by a dog, you have to deal with the cost of your recovery, including lost wages and possibly having a permanent disability or disfigurement for life. However, Pennsylvania state law offers civil options for victims of aggressive canine attacks, including filing a personal injury lawsuit to recoup the damages you've suffered.
But to successfully win your case, you need to have an extensive understanding of state law. This is why it is in your best interest to hire a Philadelphia dog bite attorney to represent you as soon as possible. Unfortunately, deciding who is best to handle your personal injury claim can be challenging. There are thousands of legal professionals to choose from that claim to have the services and experience you need to win your case.
Below are some suggested factors to consider when deciding on an attorney to seek compensation on your behalf.
Relevant Case Experience Is Crucial
Personal injury law covers civil actions where one party was negligent and caused damages to another. Many legal firms represent a broad range of injury cases that involve negligence. This reality makes it important that whoever you choose regularly handles dog bite cases in Philadelphia. Having this requirement will ensure work with someone aware of common injuries caused by such incidents and how they impact their clients' lives.
Another reason why relevant case experience is vital is that your Philadelphia dog bite attorney knows how state law applies to your case circumstances. Pennsylvania doesn't rely on a "one bite" law in dog attack incidents and holds owners strictly liable in most circumstances. However, this only covers medical costs related to the incident. To recover additional damages like pain and suffering, you will have to prove the owner:
- The owner was aware of their dog's vicious tendencies, and,
- Failed to control it adequately
This is known as negligence liability, and your lawyer must show the court that the owner violated these standards. Fortunately, state law is clear on what defines a dangerous dog:
- Will or has attacked people without provocation
- Causes severe, unprovoked injury
- Its attack was used to commit a crime
- Has hurt or killed other domestic animals
- Previous history of unprovoked attacks
- Shown an inclination for viciousness without provocation
Settlements and Awards Won for Their Clients
Any Philadelphia dog bite attorney you choose to represent your case should have a demonstrated history of winning jury awards and negotiating settlements successfully. You can verify this track record by researching testimonials from their previous clients who had similar lawsuits like your own. If there aren't any reviews available, or none involving dog bites, you should consider working with a different lawyer who does.
You don't want to work with a law firm that processes high volumes of claims that get settled quickly with little to no effort. This high turnover can indicate that you won't receive the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.
Also, keep in mind that not all the reviews and testimonials you find on their website are legitimate but bought. This is why you need to consider more than just their testimonials and track record when making a decision.
Recognized by Professional Associations and Organizations
Another factor to consider when looking for a qualified Philadelphia dog bite attorney is their participation in professional groups and organizations. Have they received recognition or ratings by any of these associations? In particular, verify their membership with the state bar association at their online website. There you can see when your lawyer started practicing, what jurisdictions they are permitted to practice, along with any achievements they have been recognized for, and other important details.
Finally, ask about any specialized memberships they have, as well, including trial attorney organizations. This experience could be beneficial should you need to take your case to trial instead of settling it.
Are They Realistic About Your Case Value?
This question can give you important insight into the character of your prospective attorney. Dog bite case values are hard to predict because of the many factors that can impact the case, including:
- Severity of injuries
- Permanent disability
- Cost of medical care
- Medical prognosis
- Previous history of aggressiveness by the dog
- Level of negligence involved
- Sharing of liability by both parties
- Location the attack to place
- And more
Another factor that impacts the value of your case is if the dog owner has an insurer that would cover the bite incident. This, too, can affect your final compensation amount depending on your attorney's ability to negotiate effectively on your behalf. If your prospective lawyer is giving you exact value amounts, be cautious about hiring them.
They Want You to Focus on Healing
Any Philadelphia dog bite attorney you consider hiring should be focused on your well-being and best interests. This means ensuring you can focus on healing. Find a lawyer that has the resources to handle all aspects of your case. From rounding up documentation like medical records to handling all calls with the insurer, they should be able to take the many steps that go into a dog bite claim, so you don't have to.
By taking this enormous burden off your shoulders, your health becomes a top priority and ensures you get the best positive outcome out of your entire personal injury case experience.
They Are Upfront About Legal Fees
With your everyday bills piling up and taking on new medical expenses, the last thing you need right now is another debt. Quality personal injury attorneys that represent dog bite cases in Philadelphia should work on a contingency fee basis. This means they don't get paid a dime unless you win. Usually, when you agree to hire them, they will require a specified percentage of your final award amount to settle up your account.
Consider going elsewhere if you interview an attorney who wants a retainer fee upfront or a monthly payment arrangement. They either don't have confidence in winning your case or don't want it to begin with. On the other hand, motivated attorneys will work hard to maximize your compensation because they will earn more when your case is complete.
Also, make sure that any additional fees not included in their cut are clearly explained. This tip applies to the terms for payment, too, and should be listed in your contract. This could be postage costs, filing fees, and other expenses to be taken from your final award after their percentage comes out. Again, this isn't unusual; just make sure they are upfront about these out-of-pocket expenses.
Verify Who Will Personally Work Your Case
This is very important and could ultimately make your decision for you. It's not an uncommon practice for large firms to have an attorney handle initial consultations but then pass your case to another. They even use teams of people at times, including additional paralegals and support staff who aren't attorneys. While there isn't anything wrong with having extra hands on board to help with your lawsuit, knowing who is actually working on your case is essential.
Your dog bite was a traumatic experience, and having an attorney you can connect with is important. What if the lawyer you get assigned is too impersonal or lacks the level of empathy you want? This is why you should have your initial consultation with the legal professional that will represent you.
Will They Go to Trial?
Many dog bite cases will get settled before ever filing a motion in civil court, but some do end up in front of a jury. When interviewing a Philadelphia dog bite attorney, don't hesitate to ask about their thoughts about going to trial. What situations would they deem necessary? What if you don't want to take a settlement offer? Will they go to court on your behalf anyway?
You also need to know their capabilities and experience presenting cases like yours to a jury. For example, if they settle 99% of the time, this could indicate they will pressure you to make a compensation offer that doesn't meet the scope of your injuries.
Morgan & Morgan
Is a dog owner always liable for their dog biting someone?
Unfortunately, no. Even though Pennsylvania law holds owners strictly liable for medical damages, there are circumstances where the victim may share or be entirely at fault. For instance, where the biting incident occurred can play a role. If you were trespassing on their private property, you might be unable to pursue damages.
In situations where you provoked the attack or knew the dog was vicious but approached anyway, the court could reduce the amount of compensation you receive by the percentage they feel you are at fault for your own injuries. If you are more than 50% at fault, you lose the right to sue under state modified comparative negligence law.
Why should I hire a Philadelphia dog bite attorney at Morgan & Morgan?
The reality is that the defense will have an attorney to protect the liable parties' best interests. If an insurer is involved, you can bet they have a team of lawyers to minimize your damage claim. They may even try to deflect blame for the dog bite onto you wrongfully! Remember, insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they will do everything possible to avoid paying you the compensation you deserve.
Further, if you try to negotiate a settlement on your own, it's a fact you won't receive the level of damages you deserve. You don't know the law like defense attorneys do and may not know all of the losses that qualify in your claim. However, a skilled attorney like those at Morgan & Morgan has represented countless individuals and families in your situation over the past 30 years and won over $10 billion in damages. We know this area of law extensively and can ensure you get a just and fair settlement or jury award that covers the scope of your injuries.
How long do I have to file a dog bite lawsuit in Philadelphia?
Pennsylvania law only gives you two years from the date of sustaining your dog bite injuries to sue for compensation. This may seem like a long time, but insurers and defense attorneys can purposely delay negotiations and run down the clock for filing a timely suit. So don't wait and speak with a reputable personal injury attorney as soon as possible, or you risk losing your right to get compensated.
What damages can I sue for after being bitten by a dog in Philadelphia?
While the dog bite laws cover related medical costs, a personal injury suit based on negligence by the dog owner can obtain the compensation that covers:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- Wrongful death
- Burial costs
- And more
It's also possible that your attorney may be able to convince the court to award punitive damages. Even though a personal injury suit is a civil matter, this type of damage could be granted in cases where the defendant's actions were so egregious that the court wishes to punish them financially for their recklessness. Again, speak with a qualified Philadelphia dog bite attorney at Morgan & Morgan to determine if your case rises to this level of award.
Work with Philadelphia's Top Dog Bite Attorneys
At Morgan & Morgan, we regularly represent families and individuals throughout Philadelphia who have suffered traumatic dog bite injuries because of neglectful owners. We have the extensive knowledge and practice record to successfully represent your best interest and ensure you receive the justice you deserve through financial compensation.
Since 1988, our law firm has fought for the rights and well-being of our clients. As a result, whether we reach a settlement with the liable parties or win a jury trial because the insurer wouldn't negotiate, you will never have to worry about being treated fairly.
Please fill out our free, no-obligation case review form today to learn how our attorneys may be able to help.