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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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My husband is a self employed plumber and was bit by a dog

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My husband is a self employed plumber and was bit by a dog while working in a customers house. It happened on Saturday afternoon. He sought immediate medical attention because he had just suffered multiple pulmonary embolisms 4weeks prior and was on blood thinners. Things seemed to get worse and now it is Wednesday and he has been hospitalized with a massive hematoma, infection, and two good infected punctures all in the thigh that he had the original blood clot from 4 weeks ago, since Monday morn. He is now afraid to be around dogs and this has been emotionally a nightmare. He is not only is missing time working, he fears that this could cost him some customers since he was unable to address any recent calls. Being self employed, no work no pay. He does not get workers comp, or disability. He is the only source of income to the both of us and our four dependent children. We do have health care with many deductables and copays.

Thank you for your question. I'm very sorry to hear about this situation.

Under New Jersey law, a dog owner is strictly liable for the damages caused by the dog bite. The law only requires a showing that your husband was bit, was on the property lawfully, and did not act to provoke the dog. The owner of the dog is liable to pay all damages resulting from the injury. This would include your medical bills, loss of income, an award for physical disfigurement or any resulting permanent physical impairment (i.e., handicap), an award for pain and suffering, and an award for mental anguish caused by the incident (the lingering fear of dogs).

Because your husband is not covered by workers compensation and does not have disability insurance, you will have to sue the owner directly to recover these damages.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

the owner of the dog lives in P.A. He was visiting his parents, owner of the house, in NJ. while my husband was making the plumbing repair. Does that change anything?

It does a bit. The law in Pennsylvania is the same as in New Jersey, and he is still strictly liable. However, what changes is that you may in fact need to sue him in Pennsylvania instead of New Jersey.

You can sue him in New Jersey, but this brings up several legal hurdles that he may throw at you, requiring you to prove the jurisdiction of the New Jersey courts. He may also even move the case into federal court.

Do you know if this person has any money to pay you (assuming that you win a judgment against him)?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I really don't know yet. The dog owner was very cooperative and claims he will cover costs. I am assuming from Homeowners policy. Can I have my Health care coverage cover medical and can I file a claim, or do I have to sue the insurance company, for loss of wages and pain and suffering and mental anguish?

You can have your health insurance cover the costs of medical treatment and still file a claim. However, you will have to reimburse your insurance company anywhere from a portion of to the entire amount they paid out for medical care for your husband from any award you get for medical care.

In regard to obtaining an award for lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish, this is a claim that lies directly against the dog owner, not his insurance company. You would have to sue the dog owner directly for these. You can submit a claim for them to his insurance company. If these claims are covered by his insurance policy, then the insurance company will likely make an offer to you for these damages. However, if you are not pleased with the offer, you will sue the owner and if there is coverage, any amount you win at trial will be paid by the insurance company. If he has insurance, this is a very good thing for you, as it assures that you will recover money from any claim you bring.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

what kind of $$$ amt settlement could you see this case being from your professional opinion. Do we have a strong case?

I cannot give you a specific amount because it all depends on you actual damages. However, I can say that it is a multiple of your hard economic damages. In other words, after you add up your lost wages and your medical bills, if you multiple that time 2, that is around the total of what you should expect to recover in this case generally.

You do have a strong case.
TexLaw and 5 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

how do put a $$ amount on mental anguish or pain and suffering?


Sorry for the delay in response.

Putting a dollar value on mental anguish and pain and suffering is something which is in the control of the jury. As a plaintiff, you want to tie the amount your request to an amount that you have lost in the real world. To do that, most people will say "I've suffered medical injuries which have cost $25,000 in medical bills. I think you should award me mental anguish and pain and suffering in the amount of 3 times those medical bills." In the end though, the number is completely within the hands of the jury.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

how can I find out, without asking the dog owner, how much they are covered with their homeowners policy? I don't want to sue him personally and destroy his life. I do, however, want to be compensated fully for the hell that we have been going through. 4 days in hospital 3 weeks out of work, loss of potential customers, loss of regular customers and the wound is still not closed and still bleeding He is going crazy. He has to lay on his side all day to take the pressure off the wound.

That sounds terrible!

Unfortunately, there is no way to find out how much the policy limits are on an insurance policy. The information is not public. Thus, the only way that you can get it is to ask them to volunteer it, or to sue them and then ask for a copy of the insurance policy in discovery.