Who Pays my Medical Bills After a Dog Bite?

Dog bite injuries tend to be either very small or very large. Either the dog nicked your arm and drew a little bit of blood or the dog caused a lot of damage. The small injuries tend to be a result of a dog that is startled or backed into a corner and looking for a way out. The large injuries tend to occur when dangerous or aggressive dogs are not properly maintained by their owners.

Either way, if you’ve been bitten by someone else’s dog, you’re probably left with the feeling that you and your insurance company shouldn’t be the ones who are responsible for paying the bills.

If you do have health insurance, they should be paying the bills first. The last thing that you want to do after being bitten by a dog is let the medical bills rack up or go into collections. If you have health insurance, let them pay the bills initially and seek recourse from the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy after you have made a full recovery. Remember that the homeowner’s insurance policy is only going to write you one check as a settlement of your dog bite case. They will not be paying the bills piecemeal as they come in.

Will a prior felony conviction affect my recovery in a Virginia personal injury case?


Maybe. The rule in Virginia is that if you ahve been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving “moral terpitude,” then that conviction can be introduced at trial to allow a jury to infer that you are being less than truthful. Crimes of moral terpitude are those that involve lying, cheating or stealing. So that shoplifting conviction that you have from when you were a teenager might come back to haunt you at trial in a Virginia auto accident case.

The only way to avoid this coming up at an embarrassing (and costly) moment at trial is to be absolutely honest with your lawyer from the very beginning of your case and throughout the discovery process. Remember that insurance companies have deep pockets and tons of money to spend protecting those funds. As a rule of thumb, if it is out there, you can expect the insurance company’s research to turn it up.

Does filing a personal injury claim in Virginia mean that I have to go to trial in the courthouse?


No. Simply bringing a personal injury claim does not mean, in and of itself, that you are headed for the courthouse. The vast majority of cases settle without even having to file a lawsuit. However, in cases where the insurance company is unreasonable, you may be forced to file a lawsuit and even take your case to trial in order to recover what you are entitled to under the law.

At the Law Offices of David L. Marks, we approach every case from the beginning as if it were to go to trial. That way, we are not surprised when we get there.

What is the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a dog bite in Washington, D.C.?


The statute of limitations on a D.C. dog bite case is 3 years from the date of the injury. If you were bitten by a dog in Washington, D.C., it is important to get an attorney involved long before the statute of limitations runs out so that the attorney can do a proper investigation into your case. This investigation includes determining the identity of the dog owner, establishing negligence, determining whether there is liability insurance coverage in place and collecting your medical bills and records in order to determine the extent of your injuries. The next step after the initial investigation is to have a discussion with the client about an appropriate settlement value for a dog bite case and to submit a demand package to the insurance company.

Our firm has a policy that, with limited exception, we will not accept D.C. dog bite cases where there are fewer than three months remaining on the statute of limitations.

How does Fairfax County define “dangerous and vicious dog?”


Each county in Virginia has its own set of local laws regulating what a dangerous and/or vicious dog is. In Fairfax, a “vicious dog” is one who has (1) killed a person, (2) inflicted serious injury to a person (multiple bites, seroiusly disfigured, seriously impaired the health of, or seriously impaired the bodily function of) or (3) continues to exhibit behavior that resulted in a previous finding by a court that the dog is dangerous. A “dangerous dog” is one that has (1) bitten, (2) attacked, (3) inflicted injury on a person or companion animal or (4) killed a companion animal. Virginia keeps a directory of all dogs that have been labeled “dangerous” and it can be found at www.vdacs.virginia.gov.

Are there time limits for filing or settling a dog bite case in Maryland?


Yes. In Maryland, there is a three year statute of limitations on personal injury cases. This means that within three years of the date of your injury, you must have either settled your dog bite case or filed a lawsuit. Otherwise, you will not be able to recover a dime.

It is important to get a Maryland dog bite attorney involved long before the statute of limitations runs out on your case, however. The policy in our office is (with limited exception) not to accept dog bite cases with less than 90 days left on the statute of limitations. We do this in order to give ourselves enough time to establish who owned the dog, whether there is insurance in place and what sort of injuries you have.

If you were bitten by a dog in Maryland, give us a call before it’s too late.

Will my auto insurance company drop me for filing a claim against them under my uninsured motorist policy?

No. Under Virginia law, an auto insurance company may not “drop” you for filing a cliam under the uninsured motorist provision of your car insurance policy. This is codified in Virginia code 38.2-2212(C)(1)(n):

  • No insurer shall refuse to renew a motor vehicle insurance policy solely because of any one or more of the following factors:
  • (n) One or more claims submitted under the uninsured motorists coverage of the policy where the uninsured motorist is known or there is physical evidence of contact

Many people involved in accidents where the other driver either had let his insurance lapse or had minimal coverage are afraid to make a claim under their own underinsured motorist coverage because they think the insurance company will drop them.

Our question to them is: What is the point of paying premiums on insurance coverage for all these years when you’re not going to use it when you finally need it?

Why aren’t we suing Allstate, GEICO, State Farm or USAA?

One of the more frequent questions that we get from clients who have been involved in car crashes in Fairfax and who have received poor settlement offers from an insurance company is why we’re not suing the company. When you file a lawsuit in Virginia for a car accident, you have to name the other driver.

Your lawsuit, then, is styled “John Plaintiff v. Barbara Defendant” instead of “John Smith v. Allstate.” This confuses a lot of people. Allstate provides insurance coverage for the claim (they hire the defense attorney, pay all of their client’s litigation costs, and pay any settlement or verdict within the policy limits), but Allstate is never named in the suit.

In fact, the judge or jury that hears your case will never know that Allstate was involved in the case at all. This is because of a rule in Virginia that prohibits the mentioning of insurance (auto, health or disability) in personal injury cases. The rule is designed to keep the jury from becoming prejudiced and rendering a lower verdict than they otherwise would (in an effort to keep their own insurance rates down) or a higher verdict than they might (knowing that the verdict would be paid by an insurance company and not by the Defendant himself).

Am I required to give the auto insurance company a recorded statement?


You are under absolutely no obligation to give the other driver’s insurance company a recorded statement. This is one of those lies that insurance companies tell. In most cases, the only purpose of a recorded statement in the couple of days after a crash is to try to get you on tape saying that you are not hurting that badly or that you think that your injuries are resolving. That way, they can use that recording to contradict what you and your doctors say about your injuries later in the case.

However, if it is your insurance company calling and trying to figure out how the accident happened, your insurance contract probably obligates you to cooperate with them in their investigation. If it is your insurance company calling, you should consult your attorney before making the decision about whether or not to give a statement.


We only take on cases we believe in and think we can win. Let us win for you.

No matter what you are going through, we are here to help. Timing is critical, so contact us as soon as possible to tell us what happened.


Law Offices of David L. Marks
10513 Judicial Drive, Suite 204
Fairfax, VA 22030
703-385-1983 fax

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