It's estimated that 4.7 million Americans suffer dog bite injuries each year. The majority of these victims are young children, but people who frequently travel to private residences while doing business are also vulnerable to dog bite attacks.
If you've suffered dog bite injuries, it's important to understand your legal options and compensation for accident-related expenses.
Dog Bite Dangers
A number of Louisiana workers are vulnerable to dog bite injuries including:
- Postal workers and delivery people
- Door-to-door salespeople
- Home healthcare workers
- Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and others who do home repair
Dog bites can cause severe bleeding and pain, as well as nerve damage, scarring, and infection. The risk of complications is higher if you have diabetes, liver disease, or any medical condition that suppresses the immune system.
Dog bite attacks can also result in secondary injuries such as a concussion if you fall and hit your head or a broken ankle if you trip while trying to escape the animal.
Filing for Workers' Compensation
If you suffer a dog bite while performing duties for your employer, this injury should be covered by workers' compensation. Louisiana's workers' compensation system covers most full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers from the first day of employment. Since workers' compensation is a no-fault system, you can still receive benefits even if you somehow provoked the animal.
Medical benefits pay the cost of reasonable and necessary medical care related to your dog bite injury such as immediate emergency care, diagnostic tests, surgeries, follow-up visits, and prescriptions. Indemnity benefits pay a portion of your lost wages for the time you are unable to work due to the dog bite injury.
To protect your right to compensation, it's important to report the dog bite injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. Although superficial bites can be cleaned and covered with an antibiotic ointment at home, there is still the possibility of infection and complications in the healing process. If you don't report the injury within 30 days, you can lose your right to benefits.
Potential Civil Claims
When you enter someone's property to perform work, the property owner is legally responsible for taking precautions to prevent you from becoming injured. If the property owner acted negligently in failing to restrain or otherwise secure the dog that bit you, you may also have a civil claim for your accident-related expenses.
A civil personal injury claim can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including anticipated future medical costs due to disability caused by your injuries
- Lost wages, including anticipated loss of future earning potential due to disability caused by your injuries
- Pain and suffering, including both physical pain and mental trauma
If you have the option of filing both types of claims, you should take this approach to maximize your compensation. Workers' compensation does not include payment for pain and suffering, so filing both types of claims will be financially beneficial. However, when you do receive a personal injury settlement, the workers' compensation insurer will have a lien on a portion of the funds. You are not allowed to receive benefits from a personal injury claim that duplicate the medical care and wage benefits already paid by your workers' compensation insurer.
There is a one-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims in the state of Louisiana. However, since valuable evidence can be lost as time passes, it's best to start the process as soon as you are able.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
A dog bite attack can create a significant financial burden, especially if you're left with permanent disfigurement or nerve damage. Since you may be eligible for both workers' compensation benefits and a personal injury settlement, it's important to protect your rights by retaining an attorney who can advocate for your interests.
The dedicated legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault provides injured Louisiana workers with effective and aggressive representation. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your legal options.