In Dog Bite personal injury cases, there are certain mistakes to avoid so you have the greatest chance that the insurance company will pay out the maximum amount of dollars to settle the claim. Here are the mistakes to avoid:
Mistake #4 - Giving a recorded statement to the insurance company. If the dog owner has insurance, the carrier will almost always ask you for a recorded statement. Don't do it! The statement will be used by the company to look for any "holes" in your story. There are always minor discrepancies, and sometimes errors, when a person is asked to recount a traumatic incident. The carrier knows this and will use these to either reject your claim entirely or to minimize the amount of compensation it has to pay out. The only reason to give a statement is to help the insurance company. Sometimes it may be beneficial to give a statement to the company, but you should always consult with an attorney first to determine if that situation applies to your case.
Mistake #5 - Signing insurance company forms and medical authorizations. For the same reasons you should not give a recorded statement to the insurance company, you should not sign any forms or medical authorizations that it requests. Again, these forms are used to protect the carrier's interest. The insurance company will be looking for any information in your past medical history to build its case against you. In one case of mine, the client had executed medical authorizations allowing the company to dig far back into her medical history. These records revealed unflattering information about my client to the extent that the information damaged her reputation and made it difficult for me to settle the case for a much higher amount. Please don't help the insurance company by signing documents it asks you to sign.
Mistake #6 - Failing to document everything. You should write a statement about the incident while everything is fresh in your mind. Your claim may take many months, or even years, to resolve. Writing things down will help you to record and recall important facts that may be useful later on. You should keep a file to store documents, photographs, and records related to the claim, like receipts, medical records, names and phone numbers of witnesses, correspondence from the insurance company, the address and phone number of the dog owner, information about the dog, investigative reports from the authorities, etc. If you decide to hire a lawyer, your file of records and documents can provide enormous assistance to the attorney and his or her staff in representing your interests. I remember one case where the person had previously written down the dog owner's name, address and telephone number, but then lost this piece of paper by the time he came to see me nearly three years later. By that time it was virtually impossible for me to track down the identity and location of the dog owner so I had to decline the case (which I believed had a settlement value of at least ,000 to ,000).
Mistake #7 - Settling your claim too soon, or appearing too eager to settle your claim soon. If the injuries are severe, it may take many months or years before your injuries heal or before they reach maximum improvement. The insurance company will likely want to pressure you into making a quick settlement. Don't! The carrier knows that quick settlements mean much lower pay-outs. And if you have experienced any disfigurement or scarring, it may take a long time before the doctors know whether it is permanent or whether future revision surgery may be necessary. The existence of permanent scars or disfigurement can dramatically increase the value of your claim, so you are always wise to wait to resolve your claim.