Attorney Chad Stavley negotiated a $300,000 “policy limits” settlement for a woman who was bitten in the face by a neighbor’s dog in eastern Oregon. The bite caused a significant wound that had to be surgically repaired and left a permanent scar. The neighbors claimed that their pit bull had no history of aggressive behavior. Therefore, their insurance company denied liability and made no settlement offers. This is because, in Oregon, dog owners are generally not liable for attacks that happen on private property unless the dog has a history of aggressive behavior and the owner was aware of the behavior.
The victim looked for personal injury lawyers that handle dog bite cases and hired another Portland lawyer based on that lawyer’s advertising. The lawyer sent demands, and the dog owner’s insurance company continued to deny liability and made no offers. Finally, the lawyer fired the victim and told her that there was no liability because the dog had no aggressive history. He said the case was not worth pursuing. The victim then hired Chad Stavley.
Chad immediately doubted that the dog had no prior incidents of aggression based on how bad this bite was. So, he set out to find someone willing to talk about the dog. The case was challenging because nobody wanted to talk badly about their neighbor. Chad kept looking and came up with a mail carrier who had previously warned the dog owner that he would not approach the house because the dog had repeatedly charged him. With that new information, Chad filed a lawsuit and prepared for trial. Once the defense saw that Chad could prove the dog owners were aware their dog was aggressive, they offered up the limits of their policy - $300,000.
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