I had the pleasure, along with my colleague Andrew Mundwiller – both of The Cagle Law Firm, to represent a very kind woman who was ignored and insulted for three years by Grinnell Mutual Insurance Company. Our client found a dog for her step brother who had lost a dog a few years earlier. Plaintiff frequently saw the dog, played with it and even cared for it when the owners were out of town. One day in 2008, Plaintiff visited her family members/owners of the dog. The dog escaped out of the yard and ran into the street. Luckily, the dog was brought back inside to safety. Because the dog wanted to play and the women were trying to talk to each other, the owner put the dog in the back yard – but she forgot to check the gate. Because of this, the dog escaped again – for the second time that day – and ran into the street – again for the second time that day. This time, unfortunately, the dog was hit by a truck/car. Plaintiff ran outside to see if he was okay. She saw him turn and go back towards the street. At that time, she put her arms around the dog, the dog stopped moving, he laid down, and bit Plaintiff on both thumbs. Soon after, he unfortunately passed away.

Due to the severe injuries resulting from the Illinois dog bite, Plaintiff had to undergo three different surgeries on her thumb. Today, she still has two large scars, she has lost half of her thumbnail, she has a residual nail that grows out to the side of her thumb and catches on things, she had partial nerve loss, she had loss of range of motion. The dog owners passed the claim onto their homeowner’s insurance. The insruance company refused to pay Plaintiff the value of her claim. We proudly represented the Plaintiff and took her case all the way to trial.

At trial, the attorney for the insurance company argued that: (1) Plaintiff provoked the dog to bite her and (2) that because Plaintiff put her arms around the dog, that she she had control of the dog and therefore “owned” the dog according to the law. Defense counsel argued that Plaintiff was not entitled to compensation for her dog bite claim. The jury of 12 unanimously found that Plaintiff was entitled to compensation. I was so pleased to finally hear that this kind lady, who tried to help an injured dog, was going to get what she deserved. The last offer of settlement was $35,000 and the jury verdict was for $140,000.


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