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On June 1, 2014, a neighbor’s blue heeler dog attacked Jennifer Duggin.   As a result of this bite, Duggin suffered severe vascular and permanent and disfiguring damage to her leg resulting in chronic swelling and pain, preventing her from walking long distances as a result of being attacked by the dog in her neighborhood that had reportedly been trained to attack.  Duggin also has a scar showing the shape of the dog’s mouth on her leg. The jury was presented evidence that the dog had bitten people on many separate occasions and apparently had been trained to attack by his owner, Tim Turner according to Jennifer Duggin’s attorney, Brian Butcher.

“One Free Bite Rule”

In many states, in order for a victim to prevail in animal attack case against the animal’s owner, the victim must present evidence that the animal had a attacked before and that the owner knew about the previous attack. If the animal had never attacked before, the owner can invoke what is commonly known as the “one free bite” rule. This rule does have exceptions, which experienced attorneys like Chris Heavens can explain to victims.

“Animal Running at Large”

If an animal is off of its owner’s property and unrestrained, any damage caused by the animal should normally be the responsibility of the animal owner. Most states require animal owners to keep dogs confined or on a leash. If the owner fails to do this, the owner can be held responsible, irrespective of the “One Free Bite” rule or other defenses available to the animal owner.

“Homeowner Insurance of Animal Owner”

The homeowner insurance company for the animal owner is normally the source of compensation for animal attack victims. If a victim files a lawsuit against the animal owner, the insurance company will normally hire a lawyer to represent the animal owner and will be responsible for paying the settlement/verdict. However, insurance companies have all kinds of tricks to try to get out providing coverage for animal attacks or paying full value to victims.

If victims hire an experienced attorney like Chris Heavens, the chances of going to court go down and the chances of a settlement go up. This is because experienced attorneys are better equipped to present such cases to insurance adjusters to make it clear to the insurance company that their exposure to a significant verdict in court is not worth their risk. Insurance companies also investigate the trial record of the victim’s attorney. An attorney who has successfully tried many cases to jury verdict is more of a threat than an attorney who advertises on TV, but settles numerous cases at low value.

Chris Heavens has been practicing law since 1991. He began his career working in a corporate defense law firm, defending people and corporations in personal injury and wrongful death cases. He obtained many “defense verdicts” against unprepared or inexperienced plaintiff attorneys. He learned firsthand how the attorney people choose could make a huge difference. Mr. Heavens also learned how insurance companies evaluate cases because he spent 10 years defending their policyholders in court. He knows what makes them pay a lot of money and what causes them to offer less money. 

Mr. Heavens now represents victims against wrongdoers and their insurance companies. He is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell, which it the most credible attorney rating system in the United States. Please feel free to call Mr. Heavens at 484-467-8254 with any questions or comments.

Pennsylvania Office

2312 Chichester Ave Boothwyn, PA 19061

Phone: 610-485-7989

Fax: 610-485-7872

West Virginia Office

2438 Kanawha Blvd East Charleston, WV 25311

Phone: 304-346-0464

Fax: 304-345-5775

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