How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit Over a Dog Bite Injury in Utah?

After you or a family member has suffered a dog bite injury, getting immediate medical attention should be your highest priority.  However, once you have addressed any medical emergencies, you should consider speaking to a Salt Lake City dog bite lawyer about your legal options.  You may be able to get compensated for your medical bills and other expenses, but only if you act quickly.  If you wait for too long, you can lose your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Who is Liable for My Medical Bills if I Get Bitten or Attacked by a Pet Dog?

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After sustaining a dog bite injury, you should go to the hospital immediately.  Even if the injury looks small, there’s still a high risk of infection due to the many types of bacteria that live in a dog’s mouth.  And, because you don’t know the dog’s medical history, you have no way of knowing whether the animal is up to date on all of its vaccinations.  It’s particularly important to see a doctor if you have a weakened immune system, because you will be more susceptible to developing a serious infection as a result of the bite.

Unfortunately, you may find yourself looking at a costly medical bill.  Though expenses vary due to factors like region and health insurance, the average price of a single stitch is hundreds of dollars, meaning a small laceration could cost you thousands.  If you need to undergo surgery, you could be looking at tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses.

It’s an extremely stressful situation to find yourself in, especially while you are already coping with pain and physical impairment.  However, financial responsibility doesn’t necessarily fall on your shoulders.  Instead, the dog’s owner may be liable for your expenses.  Under Utah’s dog bite liability laws, “Every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog.”  Furthermore, “[I]t is not necessary… to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious… disposition or that the owner… of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous.”

In short, Utah generally makes dog owners legally and financially responsible when their pet injures another person, even if the dog has no history of biting or acting aggressively.  There are, however, some exceptions, such as intentional provocation of the dog.  Police dogs are also exempt, with some narrow exceptions.

What is the Deadline or Statute of Limitations to Sue for a Dog Bite Injury in Utah?

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Injury compensation does not occur automatically.  In order to get compensated for a dog bite injury in Utah, the victim must file a claim or lawsuit.  As you prepare for this complex process, it’s critically important that you have legal help from a knowledgeable and experienced dog attack lawyer, who will know what details to focus on in order to maximize your compensation.

It’s also critical that you begin the process as soon as possible, because there is a legal deadline which can prevent you from recovering compensation if you delay for too long.  This deadline is known as the “statute of limitations.”

Different statutes of limitations apply to different types of legal matters.  For instance, the statute of limitations for personal injury is different from the statute of limitations for slander or violating a contract.  These statutes also vary from state to state, so if your injury did not occur in Utah, you should refer to the statutes of limitations that are applicable where you live.

In Utah, the statute of limitations for most personal injury matters, including dog bites, is four years under Utah Code § 78B-2-307.  (Certain types of personal injury cases are subject to longer or shorter deadlines, such as product liability and medical malpractice, which are only two years.)

Technically, this means you have four years to file a dog bite injury lawsuit in Utah.  However, from a practical standpoint, it is risky to wait until the last minute, because there will not be as much time to build a robust case if the statute is close to expiring.  It also makes sense to start early from a financial standpoint for the simple reason that, the sooner you begin working with a dog bite attorney, the sooner you may be able to get compensated.

Contact Our Salt Lake Personal Injury Attorneys

Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action.  Call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143 as soon as possible to talk about your Utah personal injury claim in a free legal consultation.  Your information will be kept confidential, and we won’t charge you any legal fees unless we recover compensation for you.  Though based in Salt Lake City, we handle dog bite claims throughout the state of Utah.

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