How Long Does It Take to Settle a Dog Bite Claim?

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Brown & Crouppen Law Firm

On average, dog bite cases take 579 days (or about a year and a half) to settle, but can settle in as little as 1 month or take up to 6 years – this is because each case is unique and timelines will depend on many factors.

Dog bite claim settlement length chart

Note: This data is based on real case data derived from cases between 2015 and 2023. Average case length values should not be interpreted as an estimate length for your case.

Dog Bite Case Timeline

  1. Reporting & investigation – The timeline of a dog bite case typically begins with the immediate reporting of the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as animal control or law enforcement. The authorities will initiate an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the attack, including identifying the dog’s owner, obtaining witness statements, and assessing the severity of injuries. This initial phase can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the case and the resources available for investigation.
  2. Medical treatment & recovery – The extent of injuries sustained in a dog bite incident can significantly impact the case’s timeline. Victims may require extensive medical treatment, surgeries, and rehabilitation, and the case may not progress until the victim reaches maximum medical improvement or a stable condition. Recovery periods can range from weeks to months or even longer, which can delay the legal proceedings.
  3. Settlement negotiations – In many cases, parties may attempt to reach a dog bite settlement without going to trial. The defendant’s insurance company and the victim’s legal representation will negotiate a fair compensation amount. The duration of settlement negotiations depends on various factors, such as the willingness of the parties to compromise, the complexity of the injuries and damages, and the involvement of multiple insurance policies.
  4. Pretrial proceedings – If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to litigation. Pretrial proceedings, such as gathering evidence, filing pleadings, and conducting depositions, can extend the case’s timeline. The court’s schedule and caseload can also influence the speed at which these pretrial steps are completed.
  5. Trial – The time it takes to reach a court trial varies significantly depending on the court’s calendar and the complexity of the case. Some jurisdictions have a backlog of cases, leading to delays in scheduling trials. Additionally, the trial itself can take days, weeks, or even longer, especially if there are numerous witnesses and evidence to be presented.
  6. Appeals (if applicable) – In the event of an unfavorable outcome, either party may decide to appeal the court’s decision. This can add significant time to the overall duration of the case, as appeals can involve complex legal arguments and additional court hearings.

Factors that can affect the timeline of a dog bite case

  • Severity of injuries – The seriousness of the injuries sustained by the victim can impact the case’s timeline. More severe injuries might necessitate a longer investigation and medical treatment, which could extend the overall duration of the case.
  • Medical treatment & recovery – The medical treatment required by the victim plays a significant role in the case’s timeline. Extensive medical treatment, surgeries, and rehabilitation can prolong the case as the full extent of the injuries and their impact on the victim’s life are determined.
  • Investigations – The time it takes to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and establish the circumstances of the dog bite incident can influence the case’s timeline. Complex investigations might take longer, particularly if liability or negligence is disputed.
  • Jurisdiction – Different jurisdictions have varying legal processes and caseloads, which can impact how quickly a case progresses through the legal system. For example, Missouri’s dog bite laws have several unique legal considerations when compared to other states.
  • Settlement negotiations – If both parties are willing to negotiate and reach a settlement outside of court, this can expedite the resolution of the case. However, reaching a fair dog bite settlement can sometimes take time as both sides negotiate terms.
  • Legal proceedings – If a dog bite case goes to court, the availability of court dates and the complexity of the legal proceedings can contribute to a longer timeline. Trials can be delayed due to scheduling conflicts, court backlog, and the time required for preparation.
  • Expert witnesses – In cases where expert witnesses are needed to establish liability, their availability and the time required for their analysis can influence the case’s timeline.
  • Legal strategy – The strategies pursued by both parties’ legal teams can affect the case’s timeline. If one side seeks delays, continuances, or takes other legal maneuvers, it can extend the process.
  • Defendant’s cooperation – If the dog’s owner or responsible party is uncooperative or difficult to reach, it can slow down the case as efforts are made to communicate with them and gather necessary information.
  • Disputed liability – If there are disagreements about who is at fault for the incident, determining liability can take time and lead to delays in the case.
  • Insurance companies – If insurance companies are involved, their internal processes and negotiations can impact the timeline. This includes processing claims, assessing damages, and negotiating settlements.
  • Appeals & post-trial motions – If either party is dissatisfied with the court’s decision, they may file appeals or post-trial motions, which can prolong the case’s resolution.

Get help from the dog bite attorneys at Brown & Crouppen Law Firm

At Brown & Crouppen Law Firm, our dog bite attorneys are highly experienced and can help you build a strong claim. Getting started is easy. Request a free case evaluation online or call 888-801-4736. And remember, our lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning there are no upfront costs or legal fees – we only get paid if you win.

Since 1979, our personal injury attorneys have helped recover over $1 billion as a result of settlements and verdicts, including settlements and verdicts from dog bite cases. Our St. Louis and Kansas City dog bite lawyers can provide answers to  legal questions and help you build a strong case to maximize compensation.


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