Portland Personal Injury Lawyer
Law Offices of Timothy Grabe Helping the Injured Get Compensation

Who Let the Dogs Out? Legal Avenues for Handling Dog Attack Injuries

What can a victim of a dog attack do to take care of medical costs? The answer: a lot. Oregon is a dog-friendly place, and dog attack victims face legal hurdles if a dog attacks and injures them. Tim Grabe has handled injury claims on behalf of dog attack victims, and can offer these helpful tips.

Tim recently settled a case in which three pit-bull-mix dogs broke through a rotten fence and attacked a neighbor's dog – as well as the neighbor. Naturally, the pit bulls' owner was a renter who had no insurance, no assets, and no money ... he was a turnip and couldn't pay the high costs of medical and veterinarian care his negligence had inflicted on others. After some sleuthing, Tim was able to locate a homeowners insurance policy on the house where the renter lived. The insurer ultimately settled the victim's claim when it became clear that the same dogs had earlier broken through the same fence and hurt another neighbor.

Homeowners insurance can often pay hospital and related plastic surgery costs from dog attacks, as well as pay for other harms and losses, such as wage loss, pain and scarring, and the impact on a person's activities of daily living. Oregon law has an odd mix of tests that can tell you what damages insurance will pay, and which things it won't. It comes down to analyzing facts such as the breed of dog, the reputation of that breed for aggression, the dog owner's knowledge of the dog's aggression, the boilerplate language of the insurance policy, and the extent and type of injuries the dog inflicts on a person.

In the old days, insurers would argue that every dog gets "one free bite," meaning that the insurer wouldn't pay for damages if the dog had never bitten someone before. That is no longer the law in Oregon, but the road to a medical recovery from a dog attack, along with obtaining legal compensation for the attack, can have many setbacks and detours. Aggressive-dog owners are not allowed to get away with creating hostile and dangerous neighborhoods. It often takes an experienced attorney to overcome the many legal hurdles that such negligent owners and their insurers will raise in their efforts to avoid being accountable for their actions. Our Portland personal injury lawyer has been there.