Interviewer: Do you ever handle any personal injury cases regarding to animal bites like dog bites?
Daniel Hoarfrost: It’s fairly common and you certainly read about them in the newspaper. There’s the old saw that a dog gets one free bite so the owner is not necessarily liable for the dog’s action unless they have reason to know that the dog has a propensity.
But certainly you read about pit bulls that actually cause some pretty severe injury to people and the owners can be held liable. Typically you’re talking about personal liability. And so the difficulty is finding a potential defendant who has some assets.
Homeowners Have Some Liability Coverage in Their Homeowners Policy
But more often than not what you look for is a homeowner whose dog caused the injury because the homeowners insurance will have some liability coverage. It’s not like a car accident scenario where you guaranteed or almost guaranteed insurance coverage to pay for the damages.
If the Dog Bite Is Severe, the Owner Can Face Criminal Charges
Interviewer: If I had a neighbor that had a particular kind of dog like a pit bull or a Doberman and that dog harasses people. It’s known for that and I become injured because the dog bites me in the leg. How would you advise that person if they want to seek some sort of compensation? What would you recommend to that person?
Daniel Hoarfrost: We would be assuming the bite is serious enough that it causes some sort of actual injury, not just a minor wound, then the thing to do is to go talk to an attorney.
Interviewer: Would the owner of the dog maybe like be facing criminal charges possibly?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Technically yes. The district attorney’s office doesn’t want to prosecute those cases unless it’s really severe and there have been occurrences in the past.
Burn Injuries Are Serious Injuries and Can Amount to a Large Claim if Liability Exists
Interviewer: Do you ever work with burn injuries?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Well a burn victim is a serious injury and it can amount to a very large claim. The question is how did the injury occur and is someone liable for it?
Interviewer: How might someone suffer from burn injuries?
Daniel Hoarfrost: But the obvious situation is when you get in a serious car collision and they’re trapped in the vehicle. And that’s typically where a serious burn is going to come from in a liability situation.
But you can also have a negligent property owner who allowed a fire to take place in some manner. Somebody could get seriously burned, so there’s any number of situations that can give rise to it.
In a Commercial Truck Accident, Both the Driver and the Employer May Have Liability
Interviewer: What about someone who gets into an accident with a truck like an 18 wheeler? And that 18 wheeler it’s a company vehicle. What happens in that sort of case?
Daniel Hoarfrost: In that case what you’re really talking about is who is responsible for it? I mean obviously the driver can be held liable but also since they’re an agent for a company then the employer can be held responsible for whatever damages occur.
So the actual injury portion of it is the same as any other vehicle collision. Large commercial trucks are regulated in a number of ways. There are various legal regulations that apply to them that you can use in determining a liability scenario.
And you have the advantage of looking to a corporate defendant who might have extensive assets but usually just has insurance policy limits.