Dog Attack Client Triumph
Great Result for a Good Samaritan!
We recently assisted a client who was involved in a dog attack but was not bit or otherwise attacked by the Pitbull. You may be wondering how does he have a case?
Our client came to the aid of a young woman and her 4lb dog who were being attacked by a Pitbull on the street in Denver, Colorado. When the Pitbull began to bite the woman and her animal, the woman began to scream which caught the attention of our client. He rushed to their location to help them and struck the Pitbull in the ribs to stop the attack. Fortunately, striking the dog in the ribs made it lose its breath and release the woman and her dog. Unfortunately, our client completely separated his biceps tendon which attaches the biceps muscle to the bone in the shoulder and elbow.
Our client underwent emergency surgery to repair the torn tendon and was out of work for approximately five months while he recovered. During that time, his surgeon placed him on a 2lb weight lifting restriction which prevented him from any gainful employment. About a year later, he was fully healed and able to live his life the way he wanted.
This case presented us with very interesting legal issues that were successfully resolved at mediation which brought our client resolution to all of his claims. First, in most cases where there is a dog attack our clients are usually bitten by the dog. Here, the dog never touched our client. We would normally pursue a statutory claim called the Civil Actions Against Dog Owners but this only applies if the individual is bitten by the dog. Second, we usually pursue a Premises Liability Act claim against the dog owner but this claim didn’t exist because the injury did not occur on the dog owner’s property but rather several blocks down the street from their home. So, what we did have was a direct negligence claim against the dog owner (a renter) and the owner of the home who agreed to let the dog stay at his house. Our theory was that someone left the gate to their backyard open resulting in the dog getting loose in the neighborhood. Not appropriately restricting your animal to a confined space in a residential area could cause a car accident, property damage, or the dog could attack and injure someone. While the defendants in this matter pointed fingers at each other for how the dog got loose, we were successful in convincing the home owners insurance carrier to pay the claim.
What was their defense in this case? Blame the Good Samaritan! The defendants unsuccessfully argued that our client was partially responsible for his own injuries and damages as he knew or should have known the risks of getting involved and assisting another person who was being attacked. This ridiculous argument went nowhere quickly and the mediator shut it down immediately. While we deal with the ridiculous every day from insurance defense attorneys, we also want to live in a society where a Good Samaritan is encouraged to help someone who is in a dire situation and is actively being hurt. It certainly adds insult to injury when these arguments are made especially given the significant losses our client incurred for doing the right thing.
At the end of the day, we had a great client who, even with hindsight, would do the right thing for this woman again and help stop the attack. We are proud to have represented our client in this case and are grateful he received what he needed to move on and live his best life possible.
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