Eau Claire Dog Bite Attorneys
Dogs play a large role in the lives of Eau Claire residents. You’ll find canine family members in homes from Dells Park to Mount Washington. You’ll see pups playing off-leash at the Sundet and Otter Creek dog parks. Eau Claire Police Department K-9s protect the citizenry, and trained service dogs guide their owners across downtown intersections.
For the most part, Eau Claire’s canine population makes our lives happier and more fulfilled. Unfortunately, sometimes those same animals bite us humans, especially children, unprovoked, causing serious injuries.
Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers represent Eau Claire dog bite victims in seeking compensation for those injuries and any associated financial losses. Contact our Eau Claire dog bite lawyers for your free case review.
About Our Eau Claire Team
Founded in 2007, Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers has grown from a one-lawyer office into an award-winning personal injury law firm representing clients throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. From our Eau Claire office, we fight to make sure our clients who have suffered injuries in all-manner of preventable accidents, including dog attacks, receive the compensation they deserve for the harm and difficulty they have suffered.
Since our founding, we have secured over $38 million in judgments, jury awards, and out-of-court settlements for our injured clients. We achieved these successes, which include multiple favorable outcomes for victims of dog bites, by focusing on delivering personalized legal representation and committing our firm to the betterment of the communities we serve.
The Dangers of Dog Bites in Eau Claire
Living with and near dogs means accepting the inevitable risks of dog bites. Most of the time, dog bites inflict more of a fright than an injury. However, sometimes they do far more damage.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) is somewhat dated, but reflects that somewhere around 5 million dog bites occur every year, that close to 1 million of those require medical care, and that hundreds of thousands of those lead to emergency room visits. Children ages 5-9 suffer the highest rates of injury in dog attacks, and children under age 14 accounted for 42 percent of all dog bite victims.
A dog bite can cause severe physical and emotional trauma.
Common injuries and dangerous health outcomes related to dog bites include:
- Wounds that bleed heavily after a bite severs a blood vessel;
- Soft tissue damage, including severe lacerations and damage to tendons, ligaments, and muscles;
- Broken bones, particularly if a dog bites a young child;
- Infection risks, including potential exposure to rabies, a viral infection that is nearly 100 percent fatal in humans if not treated immediately;
- Facial injuries in young children, which can leave them badly scarred; and
- PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health disturbances.
In rare instances, a dog bite can cause fatal injuries, most commonly if the dog’s bite severs a major blood vessel in the neck or thigh. A handful of dog breeds, pit bulls especially, account for the majority of fatal dog attacks in the United States, according to DogsBite.org.
Laws Applicable to Eau Claire Dog Bites
As the statistics above reflect, dog bite injuries happen daily across the United States, including right here in Eau Claire. So common are dog bites, in fact, that the Wisconsin state legislature and city councils throughout the state have adopted laws and ordinances to address them.
Here is a rundown of the laws that come into play when dogs bite and injure humans in Eau Claire.
Wisconsin’s Dog Bite Statute
Wisconsin law imposes strict liability on dog owners (defined as anyone who owns, harbors, or keeps a dog) for all damages caused when their dog bites and injures a person or a domestic animal, or damages property. This means the owner must pay damages, regardless of the reasonableness of their actions in handling, restraining, or controlling the dog.
Dog owners face two tiers of strict liability under the Wisconsin law, based on whether they were notified or knew, at the time of the bite, that the dog had previously, without provocation, bitten a person with sufficient force to break the skin and cause permanent physical scarring or disfigurement.
- If they had no notice or knowledge, then they owe compensation to the victim for all damages caused by the bite. Owners also must pay an additional fine of between $50 and $2,500 in this case.
- If they did have notice or knowledge of the dog’s prior vicious behavior, and the dog again bit someone with sufficient force to break the skin and cause permanent physical scarring and disfigurement, then they owe the victim two times the damages caused. Owners must also pay an additional fine of between $200 and $5,000 in this case.
As dog bite laws go, Wisconsin’s ranks among the strongest in the nation in protecting dog bite victims. If a dog bit and injured you in Eau Claire, then because of this law, you can feel confident that the dog owner owes you compensation.
Wisconsin Common Law
In addition to the statute imposing strict liability on dog owners, a body law consisting of court cases decided over decades, which lawyers refer to as the common law, permits victims of Eau Claire dog bites to hold others accountable for bite injuries, too.
Anyone in Wisconsin whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions played a role in causing a dog attack may face legal liability to a dog bite victim. For example, if a dog walker unreasonably failed to keep a dog restrained on a leash, and the dog bit someone, then the dog walker might face legal liability. A kennel could, likewise, face legal liability for accidentally releasing a dangerous dog that went on to attack a child.
Proving a case against any of these other parties requires evidence to show the parties acted unreasonably and in a way that resulted in harm to the dog bite victim. That’s often a more complex task than proving liability against a dog owner under the Wisconsin strict liability statute, which is why it always helps to hire an experienced dog bite attorney to handle your case.
Eau Claire Dog Ordinances
In addition to the state statute imposing strict liability on dog owners, the City of Eau Claire has also enacted animal ordinances aimed at keeping the public safe from dogs that pose a danger to humans and domestic animals.
- All dogs must be vaccinated against rabies;
- Except as permitted in city parks, dogs must be kept on leashes no longer than 8 feet long whenever they are off their owners’ property;
- Owners may not keep more than two dogs unless they obtain special permission from the city;
- Dogs that bite must be quarantined as directed by city health officials until it can be confirmed that the dog did not expose the bite victim to a rabies infection.
- The city will declare a dog dangerous if, without provocation, the dog bites, attacks, or injures a human or domestic animal, or behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses an unjustified imminent threat of serious injury or death to one or more persons or domestic animals, or if its owner keeps it for dogfighting. It is illegal to keep a dangerous dog in Eau Claire, so owners of any dog designated as dangerous must remove it from the city or pay for the city to impound the animal.
Frequently Asked Questions About Eau Claire Dog Bites
How do I get paid damages for my Eau Claire dog bite injuries?
Typically, you hire an experienced Eau Claire dog bite lawyer, like the team at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, to prepare, file, and pursue a lawsuit on your behalf.
In the vast majority of cases, that lawsuit (or even just the threat of that lawsuit) will lead to a settlement, which is an agreement between you and the at-fault party (and often, the at-fault party’s insurance company) to resolve your claim. In the typical settlement, you receive an agreed-upon sum of money, and in return, you release the at-fault party from future liability to you.
In cases that do not settle, your lawyer may need to take your case to trial in front of an Eau Claire judge and jury to secure you a damages award, and then collect that money from the at-fault party.
What if the dog’s owner does not have any money to pay me?
That doesn’t mean you can’t receive compensation. In fact, it’s rare for a dog owner to pay damages directly out of his or her own pocket. Instead, in the typical Eau Claire dog bite case, the dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance covers the owner’s liability to you for your dog bite injuries.
Other parties may also owe you compensation for your injuries, in addition to the dog owner. An experienced attorney from Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers can help you explore who else, other than the owner, may have liability to you.
Will the dog that bit me be destroyed if I sue for damages?
Your decision to sue the dog’s owner or someone else does not have any direct legal impact on what happens to the dog. Seeking damages and addressing any danger the dog poses to the public constitute separate legal questions.
The City of Eau Claire may deem the dog that bit you a “dangerous dog”, but that simply means that the owner will have to remove the dog from the city limits. The city will not typically destroy an animal unless it poses an active danger to the public, such as when it has been exposed to rabies, has been trained to attack humans, or otherwise actively threatens humans or domestic animals.
The dog owner’s insurance company offered me a settlement. Should I take it?
Insurance companies that make direct settlement offers to victims often do so because they hope the victims will not realize that the amount offered falls far short of what victims actually deserve to receive.
Before you say yes or sign any document from the insurance company, consult with a team of experienced Eau Claire dog bite lawyers like Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers. A skilled lawyer can evaluate your claim and whether the insurance company's offer treats you fairly. Chances are, by hiring a lawyer who knows how to negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf, you can obtain far more money than what the insurance company initially proposed.
What does a dog bite lawyer cost in Eau Claire?
It doesn’t cost you anything unless the lawyer wins your case or settles it with your permission.
To start, you can always contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers for a free consultation about your rights in the aftermath of an Eau Claire dog attack. In a consultation, we can learn about the dog attack that injured you or a loved one, and give you our initial impression of whether you have a case to pursue against the owner or someone else.
Additionally, when we take a dog bite case in Eau Claire, we virtually always do so on a contingent fee basis. That means we only get paid a fee if we secure payment for your injuries and losses. We don’t charge you money upfront, and we don’t bill you by the hour. We only get paid if and when you get paid.
Experienced Eau Claire Dog Bite Lawyers
If a dog attacked and bit you or a loved one in Eau Claire, then Wisconsin law likely entitles you to financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers can help. Contact us online or call our Eau Claire office at (715) 835-5959 to speak for free with a member of our team about your case.