an acquaintance visited our home in April- our two dogs were shut-up in our bedroom as we do not allow them to come out when we have people over because they are big and gett excited when they see new people. The acquaintance had three dogs of her own and asked us to let the dogs come out because she had no problem with it as she owned dogs. We told her our dogs can get excited and that one of them tends to bark a lot and big he is big it can be scary, she insisted that we should let the dogs out, she was ok and had dogs of her own. So my husband let the two dogs out. Sampson our rock got excited, did his barking, which he always does and the acquaintance visitor leaned in from sitting on a chair to reach out to him, he then jumped up towards her while she was in a sitting position, next thing I know as he jumped up towards her, she pushed him off and sustained a small slit to the area underneath her nose tip and the lip area due to his nail from his paw as she pushed the dog down, she also was caught on her neck (to the side) as she pushed him off. Our dog didnt really know what he had done as he was being friendly, we moved him away, and corrected him for jumping up. The cut bled for a while and obviously we were concerned and apologized for our dog jumping up on her, even though she had leaned in to pet him. The bleeding stopped and did not appear to need stiches. We asked if she wanted to go to the hospital, she declined and said, don't worry about it, it was an Accident. She remained with us after the incident for another hour and then excused herself to go home. She told us not to feel bad and that the whole thing was just an accident.Later on that evening, we received a call from her stating that she went to the emergency hospital and had 5 stiches and that unfortunately she had to report it as a bite. I asked her why would she do that when she was not bitten and had agreed at the time of incident that the dog scratched her by accident as she pushed him off her. I asked my husband and brother in law who was present at the time and saw fully the whole thing and they both claim that our dog did not bite her. Anyway she then late asked us to put in a claim on our insurance, I said that we would be happy to pay her bill for the emergency hospital and for what she also was now claiming, a chipped tooth. She agreed, we asked her to send us the bill for the hospital visit and then sent her a check for that, we were also waiting for her to send us the dentist bill. She later claimed she did not care about the scratch to her lip but was more concerned about her chiped tooth. A few weeks later, she returned the check to us and did not cash it asking us not to contact her or have any further contact with her. Yesterday we received a letter in the mail from an attorney representing her regarding a personal injury claim and stating that the incident was a dog bite and want us to submit a claim to our homeowner's insurance. I am so disgusted, 1) because our dog did not bite her and 2) we offered to pay her bill and she returned the check and 3) she is trying to milk us for monies beyond what is reasonable for her injuries and is insisting on doing this through our home owners insurance. What should we doThank you
At this point, you are liable for any injury the dog caused, as you are aware. However, if she is now seeking damages beyond what the dog caused and she is not truthful in her complaints then you really should notify your insurance company and have your witness give them a sworn statement about what occurred and let them defend you, since she is obviously going for not just reimbursement of her medical bills but she is going to seek damages for pain and suffering as well from you. Now she has an attorney, you need to engage your insurance because he is not going to give up for just the medical bills and he is going to insist on pain and suffering damages. Your insurer has a duty to represent you in this matter and provide an attorney if they cannot resolve the matter. Also, you need to get your witness to file a statement with animal control when they contact you regarding the dog bite to prove this was not a bite but a scratch from a paw.
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At the time that animal control called and asked us to comply with quarantee process, we expressed clearly that it was not a dog bite. They said that once they had received complaint of such they had to note it. I asked what we could do to have on record that this was a false accusation and they said we couldnt do anything. You stated in your answer that we can go ahead and have the witness file a statement with animal control. So should we go ahead and do this and then mail it to them. Obviously, we will now get our insurance company involved as well.
You should have your witness file a notarized affidavit to animal control that the dog did not bite anyone and describe the incident. They will file the affidavit with the report of the incident so it will be in the file. This is the most they can do unless they decide they want to charge you for the dog bite or label your dog a vicious dog and in that event you are entitled to a hearing at which point you would present your witness in the hearing.
JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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