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Calculating the Cost of Emotional Damages After a Dog Bite

Emotional DamagesBeing attacked or bitten by a dog is frightening, even if you’re a “dog person” or animal lover. You may be afraid of dogs afterwards, or you may even be afraid of walking around your neighborhood or in places where dogs might be. You may struggle to sleep and experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

But figuring out how much you should be compensated for damages that don’t inherently have a monetary value can be difficult. Here’s what to know and how Mazow | McCullough, PC can help.

How Emotional Trauma Manifests After a Dog Bite

Initially, a dog attack victim may be in shock. They may not seem like they’re in pain or they may be staring off into the distance and be difficult to arouse. Or, they may cry and shake violently. Over time, the immediate psychological symptoms of being bitten by a dog dissipate and long-term emotional distress begins to manifest.

This can often look like sudden mood shifts or extreme moods that seem disproportionate to an event. Anger may come on more frequently, or a person may seem irritable all the time. They may be afraid to go out of the house or to engage with another dog, even if it’s a dog they have known and loved for several years. Victims may withdraw from friends and family and avoid social activities, especially if their face or hands were injured or scarred during the attack.

Providing Evidence of Emotional Damages

As the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof in a dog bite lawsuit. You must be able to prove that the dog attacked or bit you, that the dog belonged to the defendant(s) named in the case, and that you suffered measurable damages from the incident. Medical records, for example, do an excellent job of illustrating your injuries and how they impact you.

Emotional damages are inherently more difficult to establish in a personal injury case because there is no dollar value assigned to them like there are medical expenses or lost wages. You can’t just submit a hospital bill to your attorney and sue for that amount.

So what proof can you provide to show how you were emotionally and psychologically affected by the incident?

  • Photographs. Take photographs of your injuries as soon as they occur and throughout the healing process. Document every stage visually so a court can get a complete picture of how long it took you to heal and how intense the process was.
  • Journal entries. As you heal, write down how you’re feeling each day. Describe your physical pain and your emotional state. Be honest about how the attack has impacted you emotionally, such as causing nightmares or making it difficult for you to go places alone. It’s best to write things down as they occur in the moment – you will likely forget a lot of important details as time goes on.
  • Medical records. If you visit a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor after the attack, get copies of your medical records to give to your attorney. These can be a powerful way to illustrate to a court how you were mentally affected by the incident because they have more authoritative value than your journal entries.
  • Witness statements. Ask people who have been with you during your healing journey to write a witness statement about how the incident impacted you. For example, if you had a home nurse for a week after being released from the hospital, their testimony about your circumstances during that week could be invaluable.

How Dog Bite Attorneys Put a Value on Emotional Distress

Calculating the monetary value of someone’s pain and suffering is a grey area open to a lot of interpretation. To do this, attorneys typically take the amount of economic damages and use a specific mathematical formula to multiply it by a number between 2 and 5 depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries.

Get Legal Help For Your Family After a Dog Attack By Calling Mazow McCullough, PC

Don’t wait to get experienced medical and legal help for a dog attack, even if you were not seriously injured. You could be entitled to compensation for emotional distress, particularly if you developed a condition like anxiety or PTSD after the bite. We’re here to help.

Contact Mazow | McCullough, PC today for a consultation to learn more about how to navigate getting financial restitution after being hurt by a vicious dog. Reach out to our Salem, MA office at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084.

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