Our firm recently obtained a settlement for our client who was injured as a result of a dog attack. The case was resolved in our client’s favor after our firm negotiated a settlement in an amount higher than the defendant’s insurance policy.
Dog Attacks Client and his Dog
Our client, 84 year-old Mr. Cook,* was visiting his daughter in Fulton County, Georgia. One morning, Mr. Cook went for a walk around his daughter’s neighborhood, with his small dog in tow. Mr. Cook and his dog were just a few houses up from his daughter’s home when they encountered Ms. Hayes and her large dog. As Mr. Cook attempted to walk past Ms. Hayes, Ms. Hayes’ dog attacked Mr. Cook and his dog.
Mr. Cook attempted save his dog and escape, but as he tried to get away, he was pushed to the ground. Mr. Cook suffered a broken hip and wrist. He underwent surgery on his hip and a cast was placed on his wrist. What was supposed to be a nice vacation enjoying his daughter’s company quickly turned into a nightmare.
At 84 years old, Mr. Cook’s recovery was not easy. Hip surgery left Mr. Cook dependent on a walker. Mr. Cook’s broken wrist left him in a cast. The combination of using a walker and having a wrist in a cast was a terrible one. Mr. Cook was required to stay in Georgia much longer than expected as he continued treatment in Georgia for weeks. Even when Mr. Cook could go back home, he had to undergo additional treatment as he recovered from his injuries.
The Owner Knew the Dog Was Aggressive
Through talking to neighbors, we learned that Ms. Hayes’ dog had an aggressive past. There were multiple incidents where the dog lunged or charged at people walking by. Just one month before the attack on Mr. Cook, Ms. Hayes’ dog attacked a child in the neighborhood. The child’s mother let the Hayes family know about the attack and that it was unacceptable she and her family couldn’t feel safe in their own neighborhood as detailed in her statement below:
Ms. Hayes knew her dog was aggressive and should have never allowed her dog to go near Mr. Cook or his dog.
Homeowners Insurance Covers Dog Attack
Many homeowners’ insurance policies in Georgia have personal liability coverage that covers dog attacks. Personal liability coverage usually applies in two scenarios: 1) When someone is injured in the home or 2) when a resident of the home injures someone. In this case, coverage applied to Mr. Cook under the second scenario. Mr. Cook was injured because of Ms. Hayes’ inability to control her dog.
Because of this, we knew there was an insurance policy that could help compensate Mr. Cook for his injuries. The problem was that the insurance policy amount was too low.
Negotiating More Than the Insurance Policy Limits
Ms. Hayes had a homeowner’s insurance policy for $100,000. We knew this was not enough to compensate our client for his injuries. Before filing suit, we tried to negotiate a settlement for Mr. Cook. Based on our communication with the insurance company, we knew we would need to file suit.
In June, we filed a lawsuit against Ms. Hayes. In August, we sent another demand to Ms. Hayes’ insurance company to settle Mr. Cook’s case. By September, we settled the lawsuit with Ms. Hayes for $150,000 – i.e., $50,000 more than the insurance policy limits. Our client was very happy with the result.
Today, Mr. Cook and his pup are back home and recovering well.
* The names in this writeup have been changed for the privacy of those involved.