Dog Bites

Dog Bites

Title 18-Chapter 1 of Utah State Legislature’s Utah Code says, “every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog.” It also says that it is not necessary to prove any dog or owner was guilty of a “mischievous disposition.” If you were attacked by more than one dog, and the dogs are owned by different individuals, then all of the owners of the dogs involved are liable to your injuries and damages.

Why Would I Need a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Case?

While cases can be won without representation, the trend shows that fighting the legal battle with a lawyer will reward you with a much higher settlement. It is proven that plaintiffs without legal representation often misstep in their case by giving a recorded statement, demanding too much or too little, assuming the system makes sense, taking the insurance company’s “final” offer and settle the case without knowing the full extent of their injuries.

Utah Dog Bite Law

Injuries from dog bites can be extremely serious, and cost the victim large sums of money due to medical bills. In addition, dog bites may cause strong emotional trauma to young children. Children who have been bitten by a dog may experience loss of sleep, fear of dogs, and general trepidation. It is important for anyone whose child has suffered from a serious dog bite injury to seek an experienced personal injury attorney.

An attorney is invaluable in sorting through state laws regarding dogs, gathering and evaluating medical information and negotiating with dog owners or insurance companies. Dog bite law differs from state to state. Some state use a “One Bite” rule that is that an owner is not liable if they do not know that their dog might act aggressively. However, once a dog has bitten someone, the owner is on notice and can be held liable for later injuries. Still, other states will not hold an owner liable if the dog was provoked or if the person bitten had no legal right to be where they were at the time they were bitten. However, more and more states apply a strict liability standard. That is the dog owner is liable for the injuries caused whether the owner knew the dog to be potentially dangerous or not. Utah follows the strict liability standard. Utah law places responsibility upon the dog owner for any injuries caused by the pet. That is, a dog owner in Utah need not be aware of the dog’s vicious tendencies before the owner is responsible for the damages caused by the pet. The person who was bitten does not need to prove that the dog was vicious or that the owner knew that the dog was vicious. Every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog, and it is not necessary in the action brought therefore to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous.

If two or more dogs are acting together and they are owned by different owners’ liability, both owners can be joined as defendants. Liability among the dog owners is to be apportioned among them and judgment is to be entered severally against all of the owners. Severally liable means that if two dogs are deemed to have caused injury and one of them caused most of the damage, say 80% while the other dog caused 20% of the damage, the owner liable for the 20% would only have to pay 20% of the damages, even if the owner with 80% liability could not pay for some reason. This is different than “joint and severally liable.”

Arbitration of Dog Bite Cases

Utah allows the use of binding arbitration to resolve bodily injury claims for dog bites. Arbitration can be a good solution for the resolution of a dog bite case. Arbitrations are less formal and are typically faster and cheaper than taking the matter through trial. In order to eligible for binding arbitration under Utah’s dog law a complaint must be first filed in court and then a notice to submit the case for arbitration must be filed within 14 days and the complaint has been answered. An arbitration award under this statute cannot exceed $50,000 in addition to medical benefits and a claim for property damage. There are other limitations of the recovery under the arbitration statute. For instance, recovery is limited to the amount of monies available from insurance and punitive damages are not available. Discovery is available as provided for under Rule 26 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and the Rules of Evidence , but with caveat that discovery is to be completed within 150 days after the election of arbitration. If either party is not satisfied with the arbitration award, they can seek a trial de novo. However, if the award at trial is not different by 30% from the arbitration award, the party moving for trial de novo will pay the costs of the other party.

Comparative Fault

Even though Utah is a strict liability state, the actions of the victim are taken into account. A dog owner may not be held responsible for the acts of his dog if the victim is to blame. For example, of the dog was provoked by kicking or striking, teasing or tormenting the dog. In a case such a provocation, a comparative fault analysis is available which would apportion blame between the owner and the victim. Petting or playing with a dog is not usually considered provocation, unless the victim was warned not to do so. A comparative fault analysis is typically not available in the case of children being injured by a dog. A child is not expected to know not to provoke a dog, depending on his or her age. If a dog owner is held responsible for a child’s injuries from a dog bite, the owner will be required to pay for treatment of all of the injuries caused by the animal. The owner may also have to pay extra money for physical pain, mental anguish, and apprehension of rabies. In addition, the owner may have to pay punitive damages, which is money required to punish the owner, if he knew about the vicious nature of the dog. If a dog is found to be extremely vicious, a court may require that the dog be put to death.

Time Limits on Utah Dog Bite Cases

Utah, like all states, has its own “statute of limitations” that sets a time limit on the filing of lawsuits in Utah courts. In Utah, a person injured by a dog has four years to bring any case to court. This four-year time limit typically starts running on the date of the injury, but since certain situations can change the running of the statute of limitations, it’s important to understand how the rule applies in your particular case. And remember, if your case is not filed within the four-year time limit, the court will almost certainly refuse to hear it.

Defenses to Dog Injury Lawsuits in Utah

Utah’s dog injury law is comprehensive, so very few defenses are available for those facing a lawsuit under Utah’s dog injury statute. The law does create an exception to liability for trained law enforcement dogs who are “reasonably and carefully being used in the apprehension, arrest, or location of a suspected offender or in maintaining or controlling the public order.” When a Utah dog bite or other dog-related injury case is based in negligence, however, a dog owner may raise one or more defenses. For instance, the dog’s owner may argue that the injured person was partly or totally responsible for the injuries. This argument, known as “comparative negligence,” may apply if, for instance, the injured person was provoking the dog at the time of the injury. Utah is a “modified” comparative negligence state. If the injured person is found to be less than 50 percent at fault, Utah law requires the court to reduce the injured person’s total damages award by a percentage equal to his or her fault. If the injured person is found to be 50 percent or more at fault, however, he or she is barred from collecting any damages at all from any other at-fault party. If the injured person was trespassing at the time of the injury, a dog owner may also be able to argue that limits on homeowner liability for trespasser injuries apply to the case.

Things You Must Do After a Dog Bites You in Utah

Almost every city in Utah has a law that requires dog owners to put a leash on their dog to prevent injury – and sometimes even death – to others. Because under Utah law, if a dog gets out and bites you, dog owners become “strictly liable.” What this means is that the dog owner will held responsible, except in those cases where the victim may have provoked the dog. Even where the dog may have been as peaceful as could be before the bite, with no history of even nipping at someone, the dog owner will be accountable. The Utah dog bite rules says: “Every person owning or keeping a dog shall be liable in damages for injury committed by such dog, and it shall not be necessary in any action brought therefore to allege or prove that such dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper thereof knew that it was vicious or mischievous.” Thus, while some states have a “one free bite rule,” Utah law puts the responsibility on the dog owner for the dog’s very first bite, even if that bite was unexpected. And it doesn’t even have to be a bite. A young child or jogger who is trying to get away from a dog off its leash and injures him or herself, is one of the people who is meant to be protected under this rule. Damages from dog bites can include the cost of medical treatment, shots, plastic surgeries to help reduce scars, visible scars, scar tissue, muscle and ligament damages, lost time from work, future time off work, emotional distress, etc. These claims are usually made against the home owner’s insurance policy of the dog owner.

If the dog owner is a renter, however, they will typically not have this type of coverage.
• Get the contact information for the dog owner or person in charge of the dog, including their name, phone number and address;
• Notify animal control as the dog could have rabies or some other disease and may need to be quarantined to see if they have a disease;
• Get the names and contact information of witnesses who saw the bite happen;
• Find out the type of dog that bit you and the breed;
• Take pictures of your wound after the bite and as you heal to show the healing progression;
• Take pictures of the scene of the dog bite, including where the dog may have escaped from; and
• Save the clothes you were wearing that show bite marks or were bloodied from your dog bite wound.

Who will be held responsible for the dog’s actions?

According to Utah law, the dog owner is nearly always responsible for any injuries the dog causes. The only exception applies to those dogs used by police officers. However, police dogs can only avoid liability under two conditions. First, those dogs must be trained. Second, the injury must happen while helping officers arrest a suspect or maintain public order. Utah law also specifies that the injured person does not need to prove that the dog was vicious or that the owner knew this. While some states do not hold owner’s responsible until the dog’s second bite, Utah starts punishing owners from the very first bite. However, just because a dog bite someone does not mean the owner must automatically pay for the injuries. Utah compares the fault of the owner to the fault of the injured person. A person cannot intentionally provoke a dog and then blame the owner for the injury. Usually, little children will not be held responsible since they do not know any better. Sometimes an injury can come from multiple dogs owned by different people. In this case, Utah law holds all of the owners responsible as joint defendants. If found responsible, the court will require each owner to pay a certain portion of the total damages caused by the attack.

What can I receive compensation for?

If the owner is found responsible, then he or she will need to pay for the injuries and any other damages caused by the bite. Typically, a dog owner’s home or rental insurance will cover these costs. The owner may need to pay for:
• medical expenses,
• surgery for scars or disfigurement,
• lost earnings (current and future), and
• pain and suffering.
When should I seek help?
After a dog bite, you should do several things to ensure that someone will be held responsible for the attack. Further, Utah law only allows an injured person four years to file a claim against the dog’s owner. If the dog injured a child, then this four year time limit does not start until the child reaches the age of 18. However, this statute of limitation can vary based on individual circumstances, so please do not wait to act.

What else should I know about Utah’s laws on Dog bites?

If you are a dog owner, you need to realize your responsibility for your dog. You can also take certain steps to avoid creating aggression in your dog. If a dog attacks another animal, a person can injure or kill that dog without legally getting in trouble.

Dog Bite Injuries to the Face

When a dog wants to bite a human, it will likely call back to its animal instincts and attack a person’s head and neck area. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest report in 2012, nearly 900 thousand people were hospitalized for dog bite injuries and half were small children.

Statistics of Facial Dog Bite Injuries

In a study done on facial repair of dog injuries to the head and neck, 45% of the cases were from pit bull attacks, in two cases that had multiple dogs involved, all were pit bulls. Injuries to the lip made up 21.7% of cases followed closely by dog bite injuries to the cheek and nose. Those who needed surgical repair and had to go to the operating room were all children. The cost of dog bite injuries to the face result in staggering hospital costs. On average, homeowner’s claims for dog bites in 2012 paid out nearly $30,000; however, considering some facial surgery costs can go into the millions, it’s easy to see why medical debt causes many to go bankrupt. Not only can the medical costs rise, but psychological pain and suffering from suffering large facial injuries and the resulting scarring can be devastating. Dog bite injuries can be serious, especially if the bites are on the head or neck. Your medical bills will climb if you have to get surgery for the dog bite wound. These mounting medical bills, accompanied by pain and suffering can wear you down and even make you bankrupt! However, you don’t have to go into debt.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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Trucking Accidents

Trucking Accidents

If you are the victim of a trucking accident, the questions of who is responsible and what actually caused the accident are often much more complicated than in a simple traffic accident. There are many players involved, from the driver to the owner of the truck, and getting information about what went wrong often requires some industry know-how. Understanding the common reasons for trucking accidents, and the relationships among the persons and entities connected to the truck, the trailer, and the load, will help you determine whether you have a valid claim and how you will present your case.

Truck Accident Statistics

Over the past two decades, the number of truck accidents has increased by 20%. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2002, 4,897 individuals died and 130,000 people were injured in crashes that involved a large truck. And even though large trucks are only responsible for 3% of injury-causing motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents typically cause much greater harm than ordinary traffic accidents due to the large size and heavy weight of most trucks.

Laws Governing Truck Accidents

Federal laws and regulations govern the trucking industry. These laws establish certain standards that trucking companies, owners, and drivers must meet, and often determine who is responsible for a trucking accident. The bulk of federal regulations dealing with the trucking industry can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Agencies that regulate truck driving include the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Every state also has a department of transportation with its own set of trucking regulations.

Who Is Responsible?

When it comes to truck accidents, there is a web of players who may be responsible for a victim’s injuries, including:
• the truck’s driver
• the owner of the truck or trailer
• the person or company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner
• the manufacturer of the vehicle, tires, or other parts that may have contributed to the cause or severity of the accident, and
• the shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo (in cases involving improper loading).

The trucking, hauling, and leasing companies often argue among themselves over whose insurance will compensate the victim. For example, the truck company might claim that the accident was caused by defective brakes. In turn, the brake company might then point the finger at the leasing company, claiming that it failed to maintain the brakes in good working order.

Can Trucking Companies Avoid Liability?

In the past, trucking companies often tried to avoid liability for trucking accidents by creating distance between themselves and the driver, the vehicle, and the equipment. Here’s how they did this: The trucking company obtains the necessary permits to operate the truck. However, the company often does not own the tractor, trailer, or equipment used to haul the goods. Instead it leases (rents) the equipment, tractors, and trailers from the “owner/operator.” The trucking company also does not directly employee the drivers. Instead, it hires them as independent contractors from the owner/operator. The trucking company gives the owner/operator a “placard,” which includes the name of the trucking company and its permit numbers. The placard is then affixed to the door of the tractor — which makes it seem like the truck is owned by the named trucking company and the driver is an employee of the named trucking company.

If the truck is in an accident, and the trucking company is sued, it would argue that:
• the driver was not the trucking company’s employee, so the trucking company is not liable for driver error, or
• the trucking company does not own the equipment, so it is not responsible for the operation, maintenance, repair, and inspections of the equipment.

Luckily, federal laws and regulations have put an end to these arguments. Under current federal law, any company owning a trucking permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has its placard or name displayed on the vehicle. It doesn’t matter what the lease says with the owner/operator or whether the driver is an employee or independent contractor.

You Want the Best Truck Accident Lawyer

It’s an undeniable fact that semi trucks rule the road. These enormous trucks often weigh up to 80,000 pounds and stretch from hood to taillight an astounding 80 feet. Anyone who has driven next to these automotive giants can attest to how dangerous such an experience can be. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a semi truck you will need an Advocate on your side to help you make a full recovery.

Why You Need a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney

Without a doubt, personal injury attorneys are the best in the business. They know better than anyone how difficult it can be to successfully pursue a truck accident claim. Such cases have so many parties involved–the trucking company, the corporation chartering the vehicle, and even the driver–that building a claim can quickly become complicated and confusing. Simply proving who is at fault for your injuries and losses can seem an impossible task. Below are just a few examples of damages that an Attorney can help you recover:
• Medical bills
• Lost wages due to injury
• Property damage
• Pain and suffering
• Loss of consortium

Common Causes Of Trucking Accidents

Any types of auto accident are dangerous, but add a loaded semi-truck into the mix and the risk of serious injury or even death increases drastically. And not only is the danger increased when a truck is involved, but the cost of injuries and damages is amplified also. Furthermore, in a truck accident case you must battle the driver, the trucking company, and the insurance company to receive full compensation, which is why you need legal representation from an experienced truck accident attorney who understands these types of cases. Car accident injuries involving a semi- or tractor trailer truck commonly occur as a result of the following reasons:

• Malfunctioning Brakes: Most trucks have air brakes, which are designed to stop a loaded truck in about 100 feet when traveling at a speed of 35-40 mph. However, when malfunctions or failures in the air brake system occur, these 80,000 lb. vehicles become a deadly force on the road. Even if a truck driver continuously pumps the brakes as recommended, malfunctions can still occur, resulting in a dangerous scenario.
• Rollovers: The most common type of truck accidents are rollovers. If a driver loses control of his truck and starts sliding sideways, any obstruction can trip up the vehicle and trigger a rollover—a curb, guardrail, uneven ground, another vehicle, etc. A truck that turns too sharply or aggressively is also at risk of rolling over, especially if it is carrying a full or unbalanced load. The danger and severity of truck rollovers are extremely high, and have high fatality rates.
• Blind Spot Accident: Trucks in particular have large “no zone” areas that can potentially cause an accident. As most warning stickers on the back of trucks say, if you can’t see the driver in his side mirror, he cannot see you. Blind spots for trucks are on their left and right sides, and following too closely behind.
• Swinging Turns. When trucks cause a collision while turning, it is known as a swinging turn or “squeeze play” accident. Swinging turn accidents can happen one of three ways:
 When a truck swings left to make a right turn (or right to make a left turn)
 When a truck makes too wide of a turn, hitting other vehicles head on
 Squeezing cars beside the truck by not turning wide enough
• Tire Blowout/Bald Tires: Just drive down the highway and you will see scores of stripped tires and tread alongside the road. The heavy loads trucks carry, and the long distances they travel, cause significant wear and tear on their tires. Sometimes, when a tire blowout occurs, it can lead to an accident, and potentially cause serious injury or death.

• Overloaded Cargo: There are certain limitations as to how much weight a truck is allowed to carry at one time. In Colorado, interstate haulers cannot exceed the maximum gross weight allowance of 80,000 lbs. When truckers go above that limit, the weight of the load may become too heavy to manage, and they risk losing control of their vehicle and causing an accident.

• Falling Debris: Improperly packed trucks may lose some of their cargo in transit, causing falling debris that can potentially lead to an accident. According to the law, a truck driver is responsible for properly securing their load so that nothing falls onto the highway. Clear water or feathers from live birds are the only exceptions.

For drivers who are involved in a collision with a truck, or an accident caused by a truck, first you should determine if anyone at the scene of the crash requires medical attention. Truck accidents are generally very serious, and the appropriate medical care should be given to all parties involved. Second, avoid talking to a trucking company without the presence of an experienced Colorado truck accident attorney. The truck company may try to negotiate a settlement, but without having a lawyer present, you could be cheated out of the full costs and expenses associated with treating your injuries, fixing damage and compensating you for lost wages.

Who Pays For Injuries And Damages In A Truck Accident?

Big Rigs and semi-trucks present some very unique issues both on our roadways and in our legal system. Because of their sheer size alone, they are many times more dangerous than a standard sized automobile. When that much weight gets moving that quickly, it does not take much for a traffic accident to become fatal. When these accidents do occur, and one is curious as to whether they can pursue a claim, the first step is to show negligence. The driver must have actually fallen below a standard of reasonable care for him to be negligent and at-fault. It is possible that the experienced semi-truck driver has done everything right and yet was still unable to avoid the collision. Those instances are somewhat unique, but they happen. When they do, both parties may be reasonable for their own losses. If that is not the case in your accident, and a semi-truck did cause a car accident, one comforting thought is that the odds that you will recover your losses are very high. Most semi-trucks are being driven by a professional driver who is an employee of a business. Businesses are responsible for the negligent actions of their agents while they are in the course and scope of their employment under a theory called respondent superior. That means, that if the driver is negligent, instead of his own car insurance stepping up to indemnify him, the car insurance of the business will step up to indemnify the business. This happens because the business is sure to be buying insurance on their own trucks and listing their employees as drivers as opposed to forcing their employees to pay for expensive insurance on those enormous trucks. Because the business is the one who chose the insurance policy, it is likely to be enormous. That is just the reality. If you were starting a business that involved driving many huge trucks all around the country carrying a variety of expensive materials, you would purchase an enormous insurance policy to protect you against a catastrophic loss. The advantage of this policy having limits that are so high that they will never be reached is that the plaintiff is now able to be fully compensated even in the case of very serious damages. In order to lawsuit, plaintiffs are forced to sign agreements that officially release any and all future claims against that defendant. When one is working with an insurance company, which is darn near always, the agreement will release both the insurance company and the insured party. Because of that, when policy limits are too low to fully compensate the plaintiff, the plaintiff will be forced to accept less than what they deserve if the insured is insolvent. In the case of an employee causing the damage, the agreement may only protect the business, leaving the employee liable for the remainder, but this problem will likely never arise because semi-trucks will be carrying insurance policies that are so large that all potential problems can be avoided. In fact, one other difference in a trucking accident is that punitive damages may become a possibility. If it can be shown that the company had reckless disregard for the safety of other in how they used their trucks, the award may be exponentially larger. When an individual gets into an auto accident with a semi-truck, contacting a semi-truck accident attorney who has experience dealing with truck accidents should be the first item on your list. The attorney can find the correct insurance policy and can help make sure that the injured victim is compensated.

Help For Truck Injury Victims

Due to the sheer size and weight of tractor trailer trucks, resulting injuries are often severe or fatal. Thankfully, semi truck operators drive professionally and should carry a special type of commercial insurance coverage. If you are a victim of a trucking accident, you may be entitled to compensation. One challenge in fighting truck accident cases is defining jurisdiction, as the truck operator may be based in a different state from which the accident occurred. An experience truck accident attorney can help. Discuss your legal options in our free claim review. Common Truck Accident injuries:
• Whiplash injuries
• Spinal cord or head injury
• Broken bones
• Fatal injuries
Types of trucking accidents:
• Jack knife
• Head on collisions
• Rear-end crashes
• Roll-over
• Limited visibility

Trucking Accident Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need to recover for injuries from a trucking accident in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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