Jul 19 2019

Personal Injury Claims and Pre-Existing Conditions

If you’ve suffered one of several forms of personal injury where another party is potentially liable, you’ll often be claiming compensation from the insurance company associated with this party. And as unfortunate as it may seem, while these companies are ostensibly in place to protect groups and individuals in case of incidents like this, insurance providers will often fight tooth and nail to avoid paying out this compensation if they don’t have to.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys have years of experience dealing with insurance companies and their various tactics for attempting to refuse payment to deserving clients. One common strategy these companies will take: Attempting to deny your claim based on what’s called a pre-existing condition. Let’s go over everything you need to know here.

personal injury pre-existing conditions

Insurance Companies and Pre-Existing Conditions

As we alluded to above, even if they attempt to claim otherwise, insurance companies generally aren’t on your side whatsoever as you attempt to seek damages for an accident. One of their top potential tactics is using a pre-existing medical condition you already had present as the reason for injuries that were actually caused by a vehicle accident that, in reality, had nothing to do with the condition in question.

Unfortunately, this reflects the fact that insurance companies are for-profit businesses that want to keep their profits high. Even when it involves morally questionable areas like erroneously leaning on your medical history to direct the blame for your injuries elsewhere, they’re willing to do it. They’ll generally attempt to prove that your injury was solely caused by your pre-existing condition, and not in any way cause or even aggravated by the accident in question.

Pre-Existing Condition Examples

There are a number of pre-existing conditions insurance companies may look to here, including (but not limited to) each of the following:

  • Various heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma or allergies
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Depression
  • Type 2 diabetes

Complications from various past medical treatments you’ve received (this one is particularly common if you’ve had any recent surgeries or operations).

Making a Successful Claim

A few areas that are important for ensuring an insurance company is not successful at erroneously placing the blame for an accident on your pre-existing condition include:

  • Doctor: You should see a doctor or another medical professional as soon as possible after the accident. They can specifically document the injuries you suffered due to the accident, including exacerbation of prior conditions due to the accident (if the accident is proven to have not been your fault, you’ll be due compensation in this case).
  • Truthfulness: Never lie about your pre-existing condition – insurance companies have high-level researchers in their employ, and they’ll find out the truth. If you are dishonest, this can be used against you in court.
  • Police: Cooperate with all police and first responders after an accident, plus ask for a full police report to use as evidence in your case.

For more on avoiding circumstances where an insurance company denies your claim based on a pre-existing condition, or to learn about any of our personal injury or auto accident attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jul 12 2019

Fault and Liability for Construction Zone Vehicle Accidents

While we wish it were not the case, construction zones on or near roadways are potential hotbeds for accidents and hazardous conditions. A far-too-large number of both construction workers and drivers alike are hurt or even killed in work zones due to traffic accidents every year, in many cases due to negligence by one party or another.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re proud to provide auto accident injury attorney services for a variety of car accident types, including those that take place in or around construction zones. Let’s look at some data on how common these incidents are, some important information on both driver and work zone responsibility, and how to handle things if you believe you have a case against another party in this realm following an accident.

liability construction zone accidents

Data on Construction Zones and Accidents

Per a study by the Federal Highway Administration back in 2010, construction zone sites featured nearly 90,000 vehicle accidents per year at the time of the research – numbers that have only increased in the subsequent years. Those accidents led to nearly 40,000 injuries, plus significant property damage and, of course, many deaths.

In addition, hundreds of road construction workers are hurt or killed in work zones every year. These deaths or injuries are often avoidable based on a few important factors, which we’ll discuss below.

Driver Responsibility

It’s important to note that despite the fact that construction zones do often present different road conditions or even potential hazards, drivers in these areas have reasonable levels of responsibility placed on them. They must remain within the proper directed areas within any work zone, and also need to be paying attention, observing the speed limit and preparing themselves in case of being instructed in any way by a licensed construction zone worker. Failure to meet any of these basic standards could mean liability for an accident rests at the feet of the driver in many situations.

Work Zone Requirements and Possible Issues

In addition to driver requirements, there are several basic conditions that must be met by construction zone organizers and workers to ensure the area is safe near a roadway:

  • Signage: Signs must be both correct and easily legible, plus not confusing or misleading in any way.
  • Warnings: In any situation where lanes close, shift or merge, or when a significant change in speed is required, drivers must be given sufficient visual warning.
  • Cones and barrels: Cones and barrels are regularly used to mark off certain construction areas, and they must be placed correctly.
  • Dangerous road conditions: Pavement that’s uneven, blocked, contains large holes or isn’t properly lighted should be limited, and must be identified to drivers.

Vehicles: Construction vehicles entering or leaving the primary roadway must do so carefully and without being reckless.

Accidents and Liability

If you’ve been involved in an accident in a construction zone, the above factors will go a long way toward determining fault and liability. If you feel a construction zone has not met any of the above-stated conditions, you might have a claim against this party – contact our car accident attorneys right away to find out more.

For more on this or any of our other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jul 07 2019

How Injury Liability Works for Electric Scooters

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to provide high-quality personal injury attorney services for every type of vehicle accident out there. We handle everything from car and truck accident liability cases to motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and even bicycle accidents when they take place.

Our team is also well aware of several emerging technologies in this and related areas, and the world of electric scooters is a great example. These vehicles, which have been around for about a decade but are only becoming popular transportation devices within the last few years, come with uncertain laws and regulations regarding their safe use – and this can mean that when accidents take place involving these machines and resulting injuries, parsing out liability and personal injury claims can be a bit different than other vehicle accidents. Let’s go over what we know about scooter accidents, including the potentially liable parties and how to handle making a claim.

injury liability electric scooters

Causes of Scooter Accidents

Electric scooters are not even properly classified as vehicles in all states, but they can still be part of accidents and cause injury. Some of the common causes of scooter accidents include:

·       Young, inexperienced or distracted drivers

·       Drivers using mobile devices or other distractions

·       Potholes, bumps, litter and other forms of debris on the road

·       Mechanical malfunctions to the scooter

·       Pedestrians walking in front of the scooter

·       Scooters parked incorrectly or dangerously

·       Riders swerving to avoid traffic conditions and falling

As a result of scooter accidents, injuries may range from minor or nonexistent all the way up to severe, including potential head injuries. But as we noted, determining liability here might be a bit tougher due to limited regulations in play.

Assessing Scooter Accident Liability

There are three broad parties who could be responsible for an accident involving an electric scooter:

·       Rider: Riders are often responsible, especially if they’re riding while distracted, riding in crowded areas, or riding without a helmet on. They can be liable for damage or injuries caused to others or their property during these situations.

·       Others on the road: In other cases, negligence by another driver, motorcycle rider or even pedestrian could cause the accident, and this party may be at fault.

·       Scooter manufacturer: If a scooter accident takes place and the cause is found to be related to unsafe manufacturing or defective parts, the manufacturer may be held liable.

Law and Claims

As we’ve discussed here, the law for scooter accidents is not fully defined yet in most areas. Some localities consider them closer to bicycles and prefer their use in bike lanes, others term them as normal vehicles, and still others have no regulations in place whatsoever at this point. For this reason, it’s vital to retain a personal injury attorney if you or someone you love is injured in a scooter-related incident – whether the scooter is theirs or someone else’s.

For more on electric scooter liability, or to learn about any of our personal injury services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today. 

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Jun 21 2019

Insurance Companies and Prolonged Treatment After Car Accidents

As anyone who has been through this situation will know, the process of obtaining proper compensation from an insurance company after a car accident can be arduous and stressful. Insurance companies, whether your own or that of a liable party in your case, are always looking for loopholes and excuses that will get them out of paying major funds, and they’ll often go to great lengths here.

At the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to offer you quality car accident injury attorney services that will help balance the scales here. We’ve spent years dealing with both liable parties and their insurance companies, with many former insurance adjusters in the fold who understand exactly how these companies work – and how to fight against some of the tactics they’ll use.

One particularly stressful area in some auto accident injury cases is what’s called prolonged recovery. Lucky car accident victims may recover quickly from physical injury, or may even have very little such injury to begin with, but many less fortunate people will suffer back pain, neck pain or other symptoms that linger on for weeks or months after the accident. In these cases, insurance companies will try a few specific tactics to avoid covering this prolonged care – let’s look at each of these tactics and how we’ll help you fight back against them.

insurance prolonged treatment car accidents

Issues of “Malingering”

Insurance companies often like to put a sparkly bow on even some of their most negative behaviors, and this area is a good example. Representatives are obviously instructed never to tell someone outright that they’re faking or exaggerating an injury – instead, they’ll use the term “malingering.”

Really, though, you know what they mean. This is often the first argument made against providing compensation for treatment that comes weeks or months after an accident, one where the insurance provider claims you don’t actually need the treatment and are exaggerating.

Pre-Existing Conditions

If the malingering excuse doesn’t work, many insurance companies will next move to pre-existing conditions. As the term suggests, they’ll go out of their way to try and prove that your current physical symptoms are not a result of your vehicle accident – rather, that they’re due to a previously present condition of some kind. They’ll dig deep into medical records, even going years back to previous physical therapy or any other evidence that might suggest the injury came from somewhere else.

Unrelated to Accident

Finally, if both of the above are unsuccessful, the insurance company may just argue that the treatment you received wasn’t relevant for accident-related injuries. They may ask why you didn’t go to the ER directly after the accident, for instance, and then use that fact to claim that future treatments are not connected because you clearly weren’t in pain right after the accident (a straw man argument our attorneys can quickly poke holes in, as not all accident injuries are immediately visible).

For more on ensuring you have the proper compensation for prolonged treatment after a vehicle accident, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Jun 14 2019

Getting Just Compensation After Motorcycle Accidents

For those who ride motorcycles as a primary form of transportation, safety is vital. Motorcycle riders are eight times more likely to be injured in an accident than passengers in a vehicle, and these injuries are often severe due to limited protection for those riding them.

At the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to help if you have a motorcycle accident injury and believe you may have a case for damages against a liable party. Unfortunately, there are a few strange misconceptions out there that may impact the way your case goes – let’s clear these up and look at some common statistics and case values for motorcycle accidents, plus how you can get your just compensation.

just compensation motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle Injury Statistics

There are a high number of motorcycle accidents in the United States each year, and while precise figures vary based on the source, there’s no question that over 5,000 drivers die each year due to motorcycle collisions. Nearly another 90,000 will be injured in such accidents.

As we noted above, these accidents often come with major injury risks. Even minor motorcycle collisions pose significant such risks to those riding them, especially if any safety equipment is lacking at the time.

Common Prejudice Against Motorcyclists

Unfortunately, there’s a common prejudice that may make its way into certain folks’ opinion of motorcycle-related accidents. Like it or not, some people view motorcycles as inherently dangerous or flashy, and thus will attempt to pin the blame for any accident involving them on the motorcycle driver – even if the incident clearly was not their fault in reality.

Speaking of reality, it doesn’t line up with this perception. A high percentage of motorcyclists are at least 40 years old, not the daredevil youths some are imagining, and well over half of all collisions involving motorcycles are actually caused by drivers of other vehicles. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to highlight these important realities to all necessary parties during your case.

Case Value Potential

Per information form Jury Verdict Research, motorcycle injury verdicts are often quite high, with a median approaching $75,000 per case for years in the early 2000s (amounts that have gone up since due to inflation and other factors). Know that if you’ve been injured in such a situation, you could potentially have a claim for a high dollar value.

Dealing With Insurance Companies

Unfortunately, like with other car accident formats, your insurance company is not actually always trying to help you here. Rather, they’re trying to find reasons not to pay out compensation for an accident, such as attempting to prove you were at fault when this isn’t the case. Luckily, our attorneys are here to represent your interests to these bodies and get you the compensation you deserve, whether through a fair settlement or even a trial process.

For more on motorcycle accidents and liability, or to learn about any of our personal injury lawyer services, speak to the staff at the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC today.

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Jun 07 2019

Understanding Passenger Van Accident Liability

While certain car accident injury cases are relatively straightforward when it comes to assigning blame and liability, many others are not. There are numerous situations that lead to and cause car accidents, possibly including multiple parties and liability areas, and it can sometimes be more complex to determine precisely who was at fault or is liable.

At the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our auto accident injury attorneys are here to help no matter the complexity of your case. One area that may require a careful hand? Passenger claims, or cases where passengers in a given vehicle type have liability claims against the driver of either their own vehicle or others involved. One such issue is when a passenger van is involved in an accident – here are some important facts and themes to understand for these cases.

passenger van accident liability

Passenger Van Definition and Risks

Passenger vans are defined as those that can accommodate between 12 and 15 occupants, or sometimes even more. They’re commonly used by many different groups, from resort and tour companies to airport shuttles, church groups and many others. They’re also regularly used for daycare, senior care and similar areas.

Passenger vans, by definition, are larger than other vehicle types. They’re longer, taller and wider, meaning driving them requires different skills than most other cars. Side mirrors are required more often for changing lanes, for instance, and braking needs to be applied more liberally during all situations.

And unfortunately, passenger vans are also at greater risk for collisions. Rollover risk are much higher due to the weight of people in the van, and other factors like negligence or improper maintenance may play a role as well.

NHTSA Areas

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an overview body that helps govern several related areas here, and it treats passenger and commercial vans as something of a gray area vehicle. While the NHTSA recommends that passenger vans have commercial driver’s licenses, this is not a legal requirement in most areas.

The NHTSA has other areas it recommends as well, but again, no hard requirements. It highly advises checking tires for proper inflation levels to prevent rollover issues, especially on longer trips. It also recommends proper cargo placement within these vehicles – too much reliance on roof-top luggage racks will increase rollover risks. Finally, passenger vans should never tow anything, and all passengers should remain seated with their seatbelts on at all times while in these vehicles.

Getting Proper Compensation

If you’ve been part of a passenger van accident that left you injured, you could have a case for compensation from the party liable for the accident. Our attorneys are here to go over the details of your case and advise you on your next steps.

For more on passenger vans and liability, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the Law Offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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May 17 2019

Types and Impact of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Known medically as an intra-cranial injury, a traumatic brain injury is a significant traumatic event that leads to damage in the human brain. Most often seen in car accidents, but also possible in several other situations, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can have a wide range of symptoms.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are here to help if you fear you or a loved one sustained a TBI during a vehicle accident or any other situation where another party may be liable. Let’s go over some basic facts on these injuries, the symptoms you may notice, and the multiple areas where you may see the impact of these injuries in your daily life.

impact traumatic brain injuries

Basic Numbers on Traumatic Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can range from mild to extremely serious, and on the far end of this spectrum, they are responsible for about 200,000 American deaths each year. They’re also largely responsible for roughly another 500,000 non-death hospitalizations each year, including many that lead to future issues, often permanent ones.

Unfortunately, many TBI cases simply go undiagnosed, even some of the more severe ones. Many who suffer from them try to cover them off as nothing but headaches or similar symptoms, often because they don’t want to believe anything more serious is happening.

Types and Related Conditions

As you might expect, auto accidents are one of the top causes of traumatic brain injuries. Here are some specific types or related conditions to be aware of:

  • Closed head injuries: In most cases, TBIs are what are called closed head injuries. This refers to injuries where the trauma or impact causes the brain to go in motion inside the skull, slamming into areas of the skull due to the force being put on it. These collisions will form contusions and swelling in the brain.
  • Axon damage: As the brain is involved in this same movement, it may also twist and stretch outside its normal positioning. This, in turn, can damage axons, the parts of the brain that carry impulses from neuron to neuron, and this lowers brain function.
  • DAI: When axon damage becomes significant enough at the cellular level, a condition called diffuse axonal injury (DAI) may occur – it doesn’t damage blood vessels or main structures, so it won’t be detected by MRIs or CT scans, but it has a major impact on overall brain function.

Impact of TBIs

It’s important to note that with TBIs, there’s both a physical element to consider and a cognitive/emotional one. In addition, there are often delayed symptoms – people might feel completely normal after a traumatic injury has occurred, before showing symptoms hours, days or even weeks later. In cases like vehicle accidents where another party might be liable for the injury, it’s vital to retain the services of an auto accident attorney even if symptoms seem minor or nonexistent after a head impact (or many other injury types, of course).

For more on traumatic brain injuries and liability, or to learn about any of our other personal injury attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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May 10 2019

Causes and Liability Issues for Wrong-Way Vehicle Accidents

Certain kinds of car accidents are inherently more dangerous than others, and on the very riskiest end of this spectrum sits wrong-way accidents. As the name suggests, these are accidents where vehicles collide, usually head-on, after one driver begins driving the wrong way on a given road or highway.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we have experienced auto accident attorneys who will help you receive proper compensation if you or a loved one has been impacted by a wrong-way vehicle accident or any other type of car or truck accident. Let’s look at some simple statistics behind these accidents and what makes them so dangerous, plus how many jurisdictions will respond harshly and punitively to these kinds of incidents.

causes liability wrong-way vehicle accidents

Basic Statistics

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, abbreviated NTSB, nearly 400 highway deaths are caused per year by wrong-way driving accidents in the United States alone. As we noted above, nearly all such incidents are head-on collisions between the driver going the wrong way and other driver(s) going the correct direction.

Unfortunately, the numbers also showcase how much more dangerous these wrong-way collisions are than average. While only about 1 percent of standard vehicle accidents involve a fatality, over 20 percent of wrong-way collisions include a death, making them over 20 times more likely to result in a fatality.

Wrong-Way Collision Causes

There are a few possible causes of wrong-way driving accidents, including some that may overlap with others. A few of the most common include:

  • Alcohol or impairment: According to a 2012 report from the NTSB, over 50 percent of all wrong-way driving accidents and deaths involve alcohol or impairment on the part of the driver going the wrong way. An even higher percentage, over 60 percent in fact, had a blood alcohol rating of at least 0.15, or nearly double the legal limit in most states.
  • Age: About 15 percent of wrong-way accidents are caused by drivers over 70, who may have cognitive or vision issues that contribute.
  • Road configuration and mistakes: Many of these accidents take place when a driver enters the wrong road or highway, mistaking it for their exit- or on-ramp. Cities will take steps to help resolve any confusing signage or side-by-side ramp issues, but it should be noted that these kinds of obstacles are not generally viewed as a viable justification in court to prevent a wrong-way driver from being liable for an accident.
  • Darkness: Almost 80 percent of wrong-way accidents take place between 6 PM and 6 AM, or generally at night when there’s less light.

Punitive Penalties

For many years, the NTSB has recommended that judges and juries assign strict, punitive penalties to those who contribute to wrong-way crashes, particularly those who do so while impaired. If you’ve been injured by such a driver, consult with one of our car accident attorneys, who can prepare you for the kinds of damages you’ll be able to seek.

For more on wrong-way driving accidents, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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May 03 2019

Understanding Common Forms of Distracted Driving

There are several potential causes to vehicle accidents on the road, and one of the most common and dangerous is distracted driving. Distracted driving is a broad category that can refer to several specific types of distraction, from visual ones to manual or even cognitive issues.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we’re here to tell you that regardless of which type of distraction was the cause, you could be owed damages if you were injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. Here are some basics on defining this term, how an auto accident injury attorney can help, plus an investigation into a few specific examples of distracted driving – including a couple that some people mistakenly think don’t put them at risk for liability if they cause an accident.

common forms distracted driving

Defining Distracted Driving

Simply put, the law defines distracted driving as any behavior or activity that turns the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. Many of the basics here come back to simple science: Even a single second spent looking away from the road in front of you will cause you to be unaware for a huge amount of ground covered, particularly if your vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed.
For this reason, anything that causes this sort of diversion of attention could be considered a distraction. While we’re about to lay out a few specific examples of the most common forms of distracted driving, know that a far greater number of potential actions or distractions could also fit the bill, and you should be aware of them at all times when operating a vehicle.

Cell Phones and Texting

In today’s modern day, texting on cell phones is considered the single most dangerous type of distracted driving facing US drivers. It is responsible for literally thousands of deaths on the road every year, plus untold additional thousands of injuries. This is extremely straightforward: Not only does texting require a driver to move their eyes from the road to a phone, it takes at least one hand off the wheel and uses it for another purpose.
In addition, several other phone behaviors outside texting may cause distraction. Talking on the phone can apply if you aren’t using fully hands-free devices, and even voice commands may distract the brain. Those looking to fully avoid distractions will not use their phones at all while driving.

Daydreaming or Preoccupation

This is a bit more of a nebulous category, but distraction can also be easily caused by our own mental picture. Daydreaming or distraction are particularly common for tired drivers, part of the reason you often see reminders to pull over and rest if you feel tired while driving.

Rubbernecking

It’s often used as the butt of jokes due to it’s silly-sounding name, but rubbernecking – or slowing down and losing focus on driving so as to view accidents or other things happening on the side of the road – is extremely dangerous. It’s the cause of numerous additional accidents, in fact, and is a form of distracted driving that is not viewed favorably by courts.

For more on the common types of distracted driving, or to learn about any of our car accident or personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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Apr 19 2019

Taking Prompt, Proper Action After a Dog Bite

Hopefully this never happens to you, but if you’re ever bitten or otherwise injured by someone else’s dog, it’s possible this party will be liable for your injuries. Dog owners are generally liable for these kinds of injuries with a few exceptions (trespassing, abuse or taunting of the dog, etc.), and this liability may extend all the way to future pain and suffering just like many other personal injury case types.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we our personal injury attorneys are here to help if you’ve been injured in a dog bite case. How should you respond if you’re bitten or otherwise injured by a dog that isn’t yours? Here are some important areas to make sure you cover.

proper action after dog bite

Seeking Medical Attention

The most important thing after any injury is your own health and safety, and you should see to this first. Seek medical attention right away if your injuries justify it – this includes any puncture wound, even if it doesn’t seem too serious. This is because you never know the cleanliness of that dog’s mouth (it’s likely not great), and you could be at risk for infection even for smaller wounds that aren’t bleeding much.

Wherever possible while seeking medical attention, look for ways to document the services you receive. If you have to attend a hospital or doctor’s office, ask for copies of your bills with detailed lists of the injuries treated. In cases where your face is injured by the dog, you might consider a plastic surgeon for cosmetic areas that standard doctors are not trained on.

Collecting Information

As quickly as possible once you’ve addressed any injuries and are sure you’re safe, begin to obtain information on the incident. The most important piece of information here is on the dog itself and its owner, which will enable you to find out whether there’s a rabies risk or the possibility of other disease.

You should also, however, collect information on the entire circumstance. If any witnesses were present, take their names and ensure they speak with any investigators on the scene – if none are present and witnesses are looking to leave, try to convince them to stay or take their statement yourself.

Reporting to Animal Control

While all dog bite incidents should be reported to animal control, this is of particular importance if you’re not able to identify the owner of the animal. In these cases, it’s imperative that the animal be located and tested for rabies or other conditions that could harm the public.

Legal Assistance

And finally, if you feel you may have a liability case against the dog’s owner, you should immediately contact our offices. We have several great dog bite lawyer options available for you, with significant experience in the field and proving fault to help you get the compensation you deserve.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

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