As a result of the recent 2014 Utah legislative session several new laws will take effect that will have an impact on public safety and tort law in general. In particular, we're looking forward to HB287 which provides for arbitration in dog bite cases. This law is very similar to the successful arbitration statute for third party motor vehicle accident enacted several years ago. I have previously written about the third party motor vehicle arbitration statute here.
In a typical dog bite case we see damages for past medical expenses, future medical expenses and pain and suffering. For future medical expenses we often provide evidence from a plastic surgeon about the costs involved for a scar revision surgery. As for the pain and suffering category, we're mainly focused on the permanent disfigurement caused by the dog bite. We've had many dog bite cases involving permanent facial scarring. This can be a significant injury for a person who is reminded of the dog bite attack everytime he or she looks in the mirror.
Determining the value of a dog bite case can be difficult because of the subjective nature of the value of a scar. How much should an insurance company pay for the permanent scar? How much is it worth to the dog bite victim? It depends on many factors but this area is often a main point of contention in dog bite cases. I think this new arbitration statue will help us get results in these disputed cases in a quicker and more cost effective manner.
Under the new dog bite arbitration statute the plaintiff (dog bite victim) can elect to submit her claim to arbitration. Having the case decided by an arbitrator is an alternative to having the case decided by a Judge and/or jury. One significant condition to arbitration under this statute is that arbitration awards are limited to a maximum of $50,000.00. If the case might be worth more than $50,000.00 then arbitration may not be a good option for you.
There are several other factors to consider when deciding whether or not to submit your claim to arbitration under Utah's new dog bite statute. You should review these factors and alternatives with a lawyer that is experienced in litigating dog bite cases.
We're looking forward to taking advantage of the benefits of this new statute. This statute provides a great alternative for resolving disputed dog bite claims. If you have any questions about the new dog bite arbitration statute or any dog bite case, please call us at our office or send an email.