Who Will Pay My Dog Bite Medical Bills?

Every year in the United States, approximately 885,000 patients seek medical treatment for dog bite injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these, roughly 27,000 must undergo reconstructive surgery in order to restore function and appearance to the injured area. These medical procedures and services may become costly. Under most circumstances, the dog owner is ultimately responsible for damages incurred from dog bite injuries. An attorney may be able to provide assistance with taking the appropriate actions to acquire compensation for dog bite medical bills.

Dog Owner’s Homeowner’s Insurance

If the dog owner has homeowner’s insurance, dog bite injuries will typically be covered under “Med pay” coverage. In most cases, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance will cover medical bills incurred from a dog bite injury that occurred on the homeowner’s property or which was inflicted by the homeowner’s dog regardless of whether the insurance company accepts liability for the incident. However, the insurance policy limits may not be enough to cover the cost of medical bills.

Dog Owner Liability

If the dog owner does not have homeowner’s insurance or animal insurance which will cover dog bites, the dog owner may have to pay victim’s medical bills out of pocket. A skilled attorney will be necessary when pursuing this type of case. Failure to pursue a claim against the dog owner will make the victim responsible for all dog bite medical bills.

Victim’s Health Insurance

When receiving treatment, it is often in the best interest of the victim to utilize health insurance. It typically takes some time to receive payment for dog bite injuries no matter what measures are pursued. When the claim is paid, a portion of the compensation which is awarded may go towards reimbursing the health insurance company; this will depend on the language of the health insurance policy and whether Florida’s substantive law applies as opposed to federal ERISA laws

Benefits of Using Health Insurance

Utilizing health insurance will prevent unpaid medical bills which may affect the victim’s credit. Unpaid medical bills may also affect the medical facility’s willingness to provide further treatment for the victim. Using health insurance will help to avoid inconveniences caused by unpaid medical bills while waiting to receive compensation for the dog bite incident. Victims should consult with a lawyer and save all relevant bills and insurance statements when using health insurance to cover medical bills.

Victim Options

If a dog bite victim does not have health insurance, it may be necessary to speak to the medical facility about putting a lien on the case. This will postpone the efforts of the medical facility to collect payment for dog bite medical bills until after the case is settled. This will also allow time for the victim or the victim’s attorney to negotiate with the medical facility about lowering payments. If the medical facility does not agree to these terms, it may be best for the victim to pay the medical bills and receive reimbursement when the case is resolved through settlement or verdict.

 

 

Sources:

“A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention.” Vet Med Today 218.11 (2001): 1-18. American Veterinary Medical Association. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <https://www.avma.org/public/Health/Documents/dogbite.pdf>

“Dog Attack Deaths and Maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to December 31, 2013.” DogBites.org. DogBites.org, 16 Apr. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-study-dog-attacks-and-maimings-merritt-clifton.php>

“Dog Bites.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/dog-bites/>

John, Presutti. “Prevention and Treatment of Dog Bites.” American Family Physician. American Academy of Family Physicians, 15 Apr. 2001. Web. 12 Sept. 2014

Schreiber, Wolpert. “Who Pays My Medical Bills after a Dog Bite?” HG.org. HG.org, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=23019>