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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Minor attacked by dog while visiting family — $400,000 settlement

Minor attacked by dog while visiting family — $400,000 settlement

Type of action: Personal injury, dog bite

Injuries alleged: Severe facial injury, head and neck injuries

Court: Prince William Circuit Court

Date resolved: 5/6/2022

Special damages: $29,210 in medical bills

Demand: $400,000

Verdict or settlement: Settlement

Amount: $400,000

Attorney for plaintiff: Richard M. Reed, Manassas

Description of case: The plaintiff, a minor, sustained severe and permanent facial injuries as a result of a dog bite attack. The attack occurred at a relative’s home, where the plaintiff and her family were visiting. The subject dog was staying at the subject residence on a temporary basis, but was owned by another family member who did not reside at the residence.

At the time of the attack, the young plaintiff was in the basement playing with her relatives. She was rolling on the ground when the subject dog, suddenly and without provocation or warning, attacked her. The dog inflicted severe injuries to her face, head and neck. The plaintiff was transported by ambulance to Children’s National Hospital. The plaintiff underwent an extensive facial reconstructive surgery. The plaintiff will likely require several additional surgeries to mitigate the injuries she suffered.

As part of their investigation, plaintiff’s counsel propounded FOIA requests to law enforcement and animal control authorities in two counties. Counsel was successful in locating reports from two prior incidents where animal control had responded to the dog owner’s residence because of attacks perpetrated by the subject dog. The incidents showed that the dog had previously inflicted injury to two individuals and multiple other animals.

With the assistance of the client, counsel was able to locate two homeowners’ insurance policies that were available for payment to the plaintiff. The owner of the residence where the attack occurred held a policy with coverage limits of $300,000. The owner of the dog maintained a separate policy that provided coverage with limits of $100,000. After several months of negotiations, the carrier agreed to surrender the policy limits on both policies.

Settlement of the claim required significant negotiations with the plaintiff’s health insurance carrier, which held a lien under a self-funded organized under ERISA. Review of the plan documents confirmed that the plan would not accept a reduction in their lien under the common funds doctrine or for attorneys’ fees as allowed by US Airways v. McCutchen. Despite this language, counsel was successful in obtaining a one-third reduction of the lien.

Richard M. Reed, counsel for the plaintiff, provided case information.