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How to Measure the Emotional Distress Caused by a Dog Bite

Colburn Law

A dog attack can be a severely traumatic event, leading to intense fear, pain, and emotional distress. Many victims of dog bites experience psychological damages that impact daily life as much as a physical injury.

If you were bitten by a dog, you have the right to hold the animal’s owner liable for the losses that you sustained. Measuring economic damages like medical bills or lost wages is relatively simple. To measure emotional distress, however, it is important to speak with a lawyer.

What Is Emotional Distress?

In a Washington dog bite lawsuit, you have the right to recover two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages involve your financial losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. On the other hand, non-economic damages refer to the physical and emotional pain and suffering that you experienced.

Emotional distress falls under non-economic damages. During a dog attack, you can experience significant psychological trauma and fear, resulting in severe emotional difficulties. Many people develop depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a dog bite. In fact, one study of children found that over 50% suffered from PTSD symptoms after their attacks.

Examples of emotional distress caused by dog bites include the following.

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Night terrors
  • Embarrassment
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

If you are bitten by a dog, it is important to seek help for psychological injuries as well as physical ones. Untreated emotional distress can worsen and lead to severe pain and suffering later on, sometimes resulting in sleep issues, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

How to Document Emotional Damages After a Dog Attack

Documenting emotional damages can be a challenging task. You are the only person who can feel the symptoms that you are experiencing, making emotional distress difficult to prove. An insurance company may claim that you are not truly experiencing these psychological difficulties, choosing to deny or reduce your award as a result.

In these situations, it is important to document evidence and seek help. First, seek mental health treatment from a professional. Save all records related to your care. Receiving treatment is one of the most important steps you can take to prove emotional distress.

Next, start a journal. Each day, document your symptoms and how the attack is impacting your daily life. Your journal entries could serve as valuable evidence of ongoing emotional difficulties. Be as truthful as possible and remember to clearly date each entry.

Finally, contact a Washington dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Unlike medical expenses and lost wages, you cannot use receipts, bills, or paystubs to prove the value of emotional distress. This can make it difficult to estimate your damages alone.

However, attorneys have access to formulas that you can use to calculate the full extent of the non-economic portion of your award. By hiring a lawyer, you can gain an accurate estimate of your potential settlement and avoid accepting an insufficient offer.

As soon as possible following the attack, speak to a Washington dog bite lawyer to discuss your case and legal options. Your attorney will evaluate your situation and help you identify your optimal path to maximum compensation.