You can suffer severe injuries if a dog bites you. Fortunately, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the dog bite owner and other negligent parties under California’s dog bite laws.
When you finally settle your claim with their insurance company, you may be understandably anxious to get your settlement check so you can replace your lost income and pay your medical and living expenses. Unfortunately, you will not receive your payment right away. Here are the final steps your experienced dog bite attorney must complete before the insurance company mails you a check.
What Is the Timeframe for Completing a Dog Bite Settlement?
It can take a long time to settle your dog bite case if you want to receive the full value of your claim. You should not agree to the insurance company’s offer until you have consulted with a skilled dog bite attorney.
Once you agree to your settlement, it will take approximately four to six weeks to receive your payment. It could take even longer if the insurance company delays completing the final steps in the settlement process. They could drag their heels on ordering the check, require excessive levels of approval before paying you, or only issue checks on certain days of the month.
What Are the Steps in Finalizing a Dog Bite Claim Settlement?
A number of steps must be completed before a dog bite claim is resolved. They typically include:
- Release. You will need to sign a release of all claims form where you agree to accept the settlement and waive your right to pursue any further claim against the insurance company or the dog owner. It could take longer to finalize a release if your attorney must negotiate terms in the agreement to protect your rights.
- Issuance of the check. Once the insurance adjuster receives your signed release, they will have a check issued. Depending on the insurance company’s procedures and delay tactics, it could take a week or more for them to mail your payment to your lawyer.
- Deposit of the check. Your attorney will deposit it in their client’s trust account. They know you are anxious to receive your payment and will likely deposit it quickly.
- Payment of liens. If you owe a medical or another lien on your settlement, your lawyer will pay them once your check clears. They may negotiate a settlement with the lienholder of less than the full amount you owe them. While this can take time, it will allow you to keep more of your proceeds.
- Payment of costs and attorney fees. Your lawyer will deduct any litigation costs they fronted for you and their attorney fees from your settlement.
- Your check. Once everything has been paid, your attorney will send you a check for the balance of the settlement proceeds. You have now completed your dog bite case.
What Additional Steps Must Be Completed if a Dog Bit Your Child?
If your child suffered injuries due to a dog bite, special procedures must be followed in California to settle their claim. This could make the process of completing their settlement take longer.
To settle a minor child’s claim, you would need to obtain court approval of the settlement. The process you must complete will depend on whether you settle your child’s claim out-of-court or through litigation. Here are the basic procedures:
- Out-of-Court Settlement. If you settled your child’s claim without litigating their claim, a guardian ad litem or you could file a petition in the county where your child lives for the approval of the settlement. A guardian ad litem is an individual appointed by the court to protect your child’s interest.
- Litigation. If you sued the dog owner because their insurance company would not offer a fair settlement or the statute of limitations to sue would expire soon, the guardian ad litem would have to file a petition for court approval of the settlement in the court handling the lawsuit.