A dog attack is a horrifying experience. Physical injuries often require medical treatment or hospitalization, and bite victims also have to deal with lingering mental trauma. The experience can have long-term effects on a victim’s life.
A dog bite victim should have the opportunity to recover, both physically and mentally. Contacting the qualified South Carolina dog bite injury attorneys at Shelly Leeke Law Firm is the first step in finding out your options and how to proceed. What kinds of damages can be recovered, and what is the average dog bite settlement in South Carolina?
Calculating the Average Dog Bite Settlement
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 4.5 million people suffer dog bites yearly in the United States. Typically, legal settlements are kept confidential, so calculating the amount of the average dog bite settlement in South Carolina is difficult to determine. Circumstances in each case also vary, which can cloud the calculations even more, but there are several statistics and reported findings that can help clarify the question a bit and allow us to focus on settlement results.
According to State Farm’s Insurance Information Institute, a third of paid-out homeowner liability claims were from dog bites and dog-related injuries in 2021. In 2020, insurance companies paid more than 850 million for injuries related to dog bite attacks. The average insurance claim was more than $50,000, which is a 12% increase from 2019.
In South Carolina, there were more than 300 dog-bite-related insurance claims in 2019, each claim costing between $30,000 and $56,000. The settlements for South Carolina residents can range anywhere from $60,000 to $225,000, but the average settlement is $136,000.
Types of Damages from Dog Bite Injury Claims
As with all personal injury cases in South Carolina, the damages awarded in a dog bite injury case fall under two categories:
- Compensatory damages: Focuses on helping the victim recover from their injuries
- Punitive damages: Focuses on punishing responsible parties for harmful behaviors
Compensatory damages are sometimes referred to as “actual damages.” This damage is aimed at returning the injured party back to their pre-bite position, or in other terms, to make the victim whole again. There are two types of compensatory damages that can be recovered: economic and non-economic.
The dog bite victim’s monetary losses are compensated by awarding economic damages. Some of the most common economic damages are:
- Lost income: These damages account for lost income from missed time at work and for the future earnings affected by the attack and injury.
- Medical costs: Healthcare bills are usually the largest portion of damages in a dog bite case. A dog bite can cause debilitating injuries and permanent disabilities which require long-term treatment.
- Property damage: This damage is not immediately thought of in regard to a dog bite injury case, but property can be damaged in a biting incident. During an attack considerable damage or destruction can be done to:
Serious dog bites can force a victim to miss a substantial amount of work. Because they are forced to use sick leave for extended periods, victims can lose out on promotions, benefits, and bonuses.
There can also be psychological ramifications from the attack that require therapy and counseling. There are also prescription medication costs, follow-up treatment, and physical therapy. More serious injuries equal higher medical bills. This can increase the amount of compensation needed to recover.
Non-economic damages are for losses that cannot be easily quantified or measured. These damages deal with conditions that are subjective to the victim and include:
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
Because these damages are individual to each case, a skilled attorney can help explain how these conditions can be proven and how compensation amounts are determined.
Understanding Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages center on dog bite victims, aiming at compensating them for their losses in the hopes that they can recover and repair their lives. On the other hand, punitive damages are meant to hold the liable parties accountable for their damaging behavior. These awards focus on punishing responsible defendants for their actions and discouraging both them and others from future bad behaviors.
This damage does not apply to cases of carelessness or negligence. In South Carolina, it has to be proven that the responsible party’s behavior was reckless, wanton, or willful. This simply means that their intentional actions resulted in the dog bite, or they seemingly did not care about the attack or the results of the attack.
Intent is not easily proven. When considering asking for punitive damages in a dog bite case, your attorney can perform an investigation about whether or not the intent was apparent. They can advise you if you should request punitive damages from the court.
Contacting a South Carolina Dog Bite Injury Attorney
If you are suffering because of a dog bite, the most important action you can take is to seek representation from a qualified South Carolina dog bite injury attorney. The experienced team at Shelly Leeke Law Firm understands what it takes to win the case and recover the compensation you deserve.
We know your case is far from average, and we can thoroughly collect the evidence, effectively negotiate the claim, and aggressively defend your interests while holding the dog’s owner responsible for any injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.