What You Should Do Following a Dog Attack
Interviewer: Once someone has been attacked by a dog, at one point should they contact an attorney and what are the steps that are going to be taken?
Stephen Boutros: Immediately because I need to make sure that animal control is involved. They’re the best record keepers in that situation. If a dog is within someone’s home, you need animal control because they have the authority to go in and extract the dog and quarantine the dog and get the dog tested. That’s very important.
Avoid Making a Statement to the Homeowner’s Insurance Adjuster—Refer All Calls to Your Attorney
The other thing is that if a homeowner notifies their insurance company that someone was attacked, the insurance adjuster will try to contact the victim right away and take a statement. Not for the purposes of finding out what happened, but more for the purpose of trying to shift blame away from the homeowner.
The insurance company’s trying to save their money wrongfully and you should never, no victim of any type of injury, should ever talk to an insurance company without a lawyer to begin with. Especially in the context of a dog bite, you really have to have a lawyer explain what the law is and your legal rights and make sure an insurance company doesn’t try to take advantage of the victim. In essence, victimizing them a second time.
Interviewer: How would insurance companies factor in regards to dog bites? What are their motives, what are they going to try and do and how are they going to try to approach that situation?
The Insurance Companies Generally Try to Shift Blame to the Victim
Stephen Boutros: They’ll try to say that the victim provoked the animal in one way or another. We had a case like that very recently where a woman saw a dog that was coming towards her and she was a nanny. She was working as a nanny in these people’s home. The people didn’t inform her that there was a dog in the backyard. When she was going to take the little boy for a walk, she went to look to see if there was a stroller in the backyard. There was a dog there.
The dog locked eyes with her and started coming towards her. She got scared, so she thought she would put her hand out so that the dog could smell her or know that she wasn’t being aggressive and when she did that, the dog viciously latched on to her hand and her wrist.
She gave a statement to the insurance company, before we were involved, and the insurance company started saying she provoked the dog by sticking her hand out there. But that’s what insurance companies do. If they can get anything they think that’s in their favor, they hold on to it tightly.