Dog Bite Attorney

Dog Bite Attorney in Des Moines, IA

Each year in the U.S., dogs bite more than 4.5 million people—and those are just the bites that get reported. Dog bites can be both physically and psychologically painful. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about one in five dog bite victims will need medical care. There are cases when dog attacks lead to fatalities. Iowa has a strict liability law in association with dog bites. Section 351.28 of the Iowa Code specifies that a dog’s owner is responsible for all damages if the dog is caught maiming or killing a domestic animal or attacks or bites a person (who is not engaged in an illegal activity like trespassing).

Rouse Law P.C. is located in Des Moines and has more than two decades of experience practicing personal injury law. Attorney Ward A. (Sam) Rouse can help you if you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog. Having begun his career as a prosecutor during the early 1990s, Mr. Rouse decided to launch his own private practice where he could focus on doing what he loves most—helping people. Rouse Law does not charge any fees for initial consultations. Moreover, the firm will not charge personal injury clients, including dog bite victims, any fees unless we’re able to win your case.

Dog Bite

Dog Bites and Attacks

Iowans love their dogs, but that hasn’t stopped many communities throughout the state from banning aggressive dog breeds like pit bulls. In most cases, dog attacks occurred without any warning—and many attacks involve children. Did you know that more than 90% of fatal dog attacks involve male dogs? And of these, 94% of these male dogs were unneutered. Even a seemingly even-tempered dog can become territorial and while big, powerful dogs like pit bulls and rottweilers have a notorious reputation when it comes to dog bites and attacks, they certainly aren’t the only dogs that can cause serious injury to a person.

In a recent year, nearly 30,000 dog bite victims required some type of reconstructive surgery. Dog bites aren’t just devastatingly painful; they can be expensive too! If you’ve been bitten by a dog, no matter its breed, you may be entitled to fair compensation.

Pouncing Causes Injury Too!

In some states, dog behaviors like jumping or pouncing are not covered by dog bite statutes. That’s NOT the case in Iowa. If a dog pounces or jumps on a person and causes them injury, the owner is still liable for damages. A pounce can cause a serious injury, especially if the dog knocks someone down. Dog owners are tasked to prevent their pets from harming people. If they don’t, they may be liable for all damages related to the dog’s bite, attack, or pounce.

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Dog Bite Claim?

In Iowa, dog bite victims have two years from the date of their attack to file a claim. Usually, if the claim isn’t filed within this time period, the courts will refuse to hear it.

Proving Negligence

Some states make it difficult for dog bite victims to achieve compensation for damages. Many states even have a “one bite rule” that essentially lets dog owners off the hook the first time their dogs bite someone. This isn’t how the law works in Iowa. In most dog bite cases, dog owners are liable regardless of whether or not negligence was involved. Cases that involve a bite from a rabid dog are handled differently and do involve proof of negligence. However, in most cases, dog bite owners are liable for damages if their dog bites or otherwise harms someone and that person was not engaged in an unlawful act like trespassing.

What Should You Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog in Iowa?

If you’re bitten by a dog in Iowa, you should seek medical attention. Even bites that seem to be non-serious can be more serious than you might think. Medical caregivers can examine your wound and dress it properly in order to prevent infection. While it’s vital to safeguard your health by visiting your healthcare provider after a dog bite, that’s not the only reason to get medical care. When you visit a hospital emergency room or urgent care center, your visit will be documented in your medical record. Healthcare providers will document the nature of your wound and any treatment that they provided. This document can become evidence if you decide to pursue a claim for damages.

After getting medical care, you should contact the police or your area’s animal control. If a dog bit you, it could pose a threat to others. If the animal that bit you was a stray, it’s important to let police know that an aggressive dog is loose in the area. Your bite will generate a report; this too can be used as evidence if you elect to pursue your claim. If the attack was serious and you cannot make the call, someone else at the scene may elect to call themselves.

Take Photos of Your Injuries

In serious dog attacks, hospital staff may take photographs of the victim’s wounds. You can also take photos that can be used as evidence should you pursue your claim. Although photographs are not necessary to win a claim, they can definitely provide evidence of your attack—and the severity of the wounds you suffered.

Contact a Des Moines Dog Bite Attorney

After seeking medical care for your dog bite and reporting the attack to relevant authorities, it’s wise to contact your dog bite attorney. Mr. Rouse has more than two decades of experience practicing personal injury law, which includes dog bite claims. He can advice you about your rights, deadlines for filing your claim, what to say (and what not to say) to insurance companies, and how to proceed with you case. Depending on the situation, he and his associates can obtain helpful evidence that supports your claim such as speaking to witnesses who may provide accounts of the attack that include:

  • Whether the dog was leashed or unleased
  • If the victim provoked the dog or if the attack was unprovoked
  • If the dog’s owner was unable to control the dog
  • The victim was trespassing

We frequently investigate various aspects of these types of cases for our clients. Our goal is to help support our clients’ claims. Fortunately, most dog bite cases in Iowa are not difficult to resolve as owners are liable if their dogs attack unless the victim has engaged in an illegal behavior like trespassing.

Preventing a Dog Bite Attack

It’s not always possible to prevent an attack, especially if you’re unaware than an unleashed dog is in your proximity. In Iowa, people have been attacked while walking their own dog in the park or going for a job within mere blocks of their own homes. Even so, there are some precautions that people can take to reduce their risks for getting bitten. Some of these precautions include:

  • Don’t approach a dog you don’t know—and encourage your children to follow suit
  • Avoid stray dogs
  • Do not reach through a fence to pet a dog
  • Do not tease or chase dogs
  • Always ask the owner’s permission before petting a dog or allowing your child to pet a dog
  • Never leave a young child alone with any dog

If you do provoke a dog, you could harm your claim. Even though Iowa has strict dog bite statutes, you could render your claim invalid if you entered a yard without permission from the homeowner and their dog bit you.

Claim Evaluation

If you’ve been bitten by a dog in Iowa, contact Rouse Law P.C. to schedule your free initial consultation. Mr. Rouse will go over your claim and provide you with some preliminary advice. If you choose to pursue your claim, he can represent you at the negotiation table or in court.

How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Dog Bite Claim?

No personal injury attorney can tell you how long it will take to resolve your case. If the homeowner’s insurance company is involved or other parties (i.e. a landlord), the case may take longer to resolve, but this isn’t always the case. Many insurance companies will offer a settlement in order to avoid court. It’s up to the client to accept or decline these settlement offers. Usually, cases take more time to resolve once they reach litigation status.

Monetary Compensation

Dog bite claims are civil matters. As a dog bite attorney, Mr. Rouse will attempt to achieve fair compensation for dog bite victims. These cases involve monetary damages. If you win, it doesn’t mean that the dog will be euthanized or the dog’s owner will face any criminal charges. As a dog bite victim, you may be eligible for economic and non-economic damages in accordance with Iowa law. These damages may include:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses (i.e. emergency room care, surgery, doctor visits, tests and x-rays, rehabilitation and physical therapy, etc…)
  • Lost work wages
  • Future medical expenses
  • Future lost work wages

Mr. Rouse can discuss the particulars of your case in order to help you determine what sum to demand in your claim. In cases that involve severe, life-threatening attacks, it may be necessary to consult medical experts and actuaries to determine the future economic costs may be involved in your case.

Rouse Law P.C. Services

If you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog, you have rights—and Mr. Rouse will do everything he can to help you achieve fair compensation. To that end, he and his associates will provide you with a wide array of legal services that may include:

  • File court documents and manage case-related paperwork
  • Attend court proceedings and associated meetings punctually
  • Communicate with defendant’s lawyers and / or insurance company
  • Obtain witness accounts of the event
  • Obtain supportive evidence (if it exists) such as video footage or photographs
  • Provide sound legal advice
  • Aggressively negotiate or litigate the claim

Rouse Law also takes communication with clients seriously. We are here to provide clients with a professional service—and that means providing them with communication as needed. When you contact our firm, you will never get the ‘brush-off’ that some larger firms are known for. If the firm’s staff cannot answer your questions, Mr. Rouse will contact you with the information you need as quickly as possible. Rouse Law is a small firm, but one of the benefits of working with a small firm is the personalized attention it can provide. As a client of Rouse Law, you should never feel anonymous. Mr. Rouse offers customized care to every client. That’s the type of treatment you can expect at this Des Moines law firm.

Legal Fees

Clients are understandably concerned about the cost of obtaining the services of an attorney. Dog bites long other personal injury matters happen out of the blue. Who’s every really prepared for an accident or attack? Victims of dog bites are already contending with physical and emotional pain. They may be facing weeks or months of recovery time. Some clients are unable to work or face immense medical bills. That’s why we will not charge any of our legal fees unless we are successful. You won’t receive a bill unless we help you achieve a settlement sum or compensation award. That is our commitment to you. When you do receive our bill, you can expect transparency when it comes to our fees.

If you need a Des Moines dog bite attorney, remember that Mr. Rouse has nearly a quarter of a century of experience handling these types of claims. He is highly skilled and has a passion for helping people. Contact Rouse Law to schedule your no-obligation, free-initial consultation. You can tell Mr. Rouse about the event that took place and he can provide you with some preliminary legal advice to help you make an informed decision about how to best proceed with the matter. Remember, there are deadlines for filing personal injury claims including dog bites, so contact Mr. Rouse as soon as you can.

Attorney Ward A. (Sam) Rouse