Dog bites in children are unfortunately quite common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S., and 800,000 of those require medical treatment. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that half of those victims are children.
If your child is unlucky enough to get attacked and injured by a dog, you may be concerned about how you’re going to pay for the reconstructive surgery that is often necessary. The medical bills can pile up before your child’s personal injury settlement comes through, and you might find yourself worrying about how things are going to work out. The good news is, you have options.
What is reconstructive surgery, and why is it necessary after a dog bite injury?
Dog bites sometimes cause serious injuries, which may include deep lacerations, puncture wounds, bone fractures, etc. These injuries can leave significant scars and deformities if not corrected surgically—and for a child, these injuries can deeply impact them psychologically and physically as they get older. Reconstructive surgery helps correct the deformities and reduces or eliminates scarring to restore wholeness and prevent significant complications later.
Paying for Your Child’s Reconstructive Surgery Before the Settlement Comes in
In Washington State, dog owners are liable for the injuries caused by their dogs, but even personal injury settlements often take time to come through as attorneys and insurance companies contend over settlement amounts. Your child obviously can’t wait for the settlement to have reconstructive surgery, so here are some ways to get the costs covered until your case is resolved:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance. PIP (or “no-fault”) insurance is typically the first line of defense in covering initial costs for an injury. If you’ve purchased PIP insurance that covers dog bites, that insurance should kick in up to the no-fault limit to help cover your child’s medical expenses.
- Health insurance. For whatever PIP insurance doesn’t cover, your own health insurance may have provisions to cover the initial costs of treatment for your child, even if someone else is liable for those costs. If this is the case, the insurance provider will typically be reimbursed out of your settlement.
- Medical liens. The State of Washington allows healthcare providers to place a medical lien on your insurance or personal injury claim. This lien enables them to give your child the care they need knowing they will eventually be reimbursed for their services and costs. While the term “lien” may be scary, note that a medical lien is placed not against your personal property; it’s dependent on the compensation you eventually will receive for your child’s injuries.
Why You Need to File a Personal Injury Claim
Even if you have PIP insurance or health insurance, these may not be sufficient to cover the total cost of reconstructive surgery or other healthcare expenses—nor will they cover other types of loss such as lost wages, cost of in-home care, etc. Additionally, you might not be able to benefit from a medical lien unless it’s guaranteed by a personal injury claim. Filing a claim helps ensure you’ll be able to get reimbursed for any costs paid out of pocket—plus, it reimburses you for intangible losses like pain and suffering that no amount of insurance can cover.
How Our Washington Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help You
No matter how cut-and-dried your case may appear, insurance companies sometimes drag their feet and look for excuses not to pay claims. Even the victim’s own PIP insurance may attempt to deny claims based on a technicality. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complicated process of filing a claim, negotiate for the best settlement possible, and, if necessary, fight to make sure your own insurance meets its obligations. An attorney can also help facilitate medical liens or other remedies to help you cover the costs of your child’s care while you’re waiting for your settlement to be finalized.
Let the Max Meyers Law Firm help you get the compensation you need to help your child become whole again after a damaging dog bite. Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation or call us at 425-399-7000. We have been proudly servicing dog bite injury and personal injury clients throughout Bothell, Kirkland and the surrounding areas.