What to do if my 10 year old son was bitten by a neighbor’s dog?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2014

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What to do if my 10 year old son was bitten by a neighbor’s dog?

Animal Control has deemed it an unprovoked attack. He endured 4 puncture wounds to his right arm, and horrible bite injury to his left hand. My son is not insured. The owner’s of the dog have verbally offered to cover all medical expenses endured as a result of this injury. They have offered a check to me for $1000 and stated that if the cost was more than that to let them know. I have no guarantee that they won’t back out, and I fear that his trip to the emergency room will cost more than that. If I cash this check am I agreeing to settle for that? I’m certainly not out to make money on our tragedy but I want to know they’ll be responsible for the fiduciary cost for this incident?

Asked on September 29, 2014 under Personal Injury, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If there is no agreement that the $1,000 check represents payment in full, then you would be able to sue them (if necessary) for more later--e.g. suppose the total medical cost  is $2,500.  If you already received $1,000, then you could sue for the remaining $1,500.

The risk to you  is that, with an oral (unwritten agreement) that  they will pay more if necessary, suppose they change their minds and lie, and claim the check was payment in full and  you'd agreed to take it as pyament in full; in that case, if you tried to sue them, if a judge found their testimony that the check was settlement in full credible or believable, you'd be unable to recover any more money. You need to weigh the risk of that happening vs. how much you need the $1,000 vs. what you think the cost could add up to, before deciding whether to cash the check or not.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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