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  1. #1
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The day I became dog food

    Some of you may remember that last May I started a thread about an incident I had with a dog. Well, upon the advice of my lawyer, I requested that BikeForums remove the thread. They were kind enough to comply. Now that the legal matter is settled, I can tell the whole tale.

    To me, bike rides are like sunrises. Each one is different , all are special, and some are truly spectacular. The “day I became dog food" was a ride that will forever stand out in my mind - for good and for ill. This is a long story, so I broke it up into 11 sections. There are 10 more posts to follow. Read any that you are inclined to read.

    This thread is also for anyone who wants to be more prepared than I was when the dog and the insurance company attack. Be warned, that the pictures of my leg are not pretty. It may NOT be the most gruesome thing some have ever seen but if you can't stand the sight of blood, go no further.
    Last edited by MikeR; 09-18-09 at 10:49 AM.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  2. #2
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The Dog Attack.

    The Dog Attack.

    On April 28, 2009 I took a day off from work in order to move my daughter back from her first year of college. It was a nice day so, naturally, I figured to get a quick 10 mile ride in early. Since I was just doing a loop around the area all I took with me was my cell phone and a water bottle.

    I was heading back, 3 miles from home, when I heard a dog bark. Previously this place had a nice black lab who loved to run alongside me, waging the whole way. Little did I know the new residents had a pregnant Chocolate Lab who meant business. She barked once from the yard and charged. She came in fast on my right rear, in my blind spot. I didn't see her but I heard a slobbering snarl like an angry fiend devouring meat, as she clamped down on my right calf. I cried out from the pain as the force of her impact knocked me over onto the road. The fall pulled my leg out from the dog's mouth even though she did not let go. This ripped a chunk of flesh out of my calf.

    Laying on the ground with my prone bike between me and the dog, I started yelling at her get away. She seemed confused by the bike and my yelling, so she backed off, perhaps to chew what she had acquired. I hope that I gave her a severe case of indigestion. It IS interesting to think that a part of me has literally become dog sh*t.

    It may have been shock, but I remember thinking "Boy, I hope she didn't break the skin". Then I looked down to see an upside down "U" shaped wound about 2 inches by 4 inches. The flesh inside the wound (what was left of it) was sliding down my leg like a bloody sock that's too loose.
    Last edited by MikeR; 09-18-09 at 07:27 PM.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  3. #3
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The dog owner and the doctors.

    I was laying in the street, with blood puddling around my leg. Attracted by all the noise, the owner peaked around from his back yard. I yelled "Your dog just took a chunk out of my leg". He said "What? She wouldn't hurt anyone" Then he came up and saw the carnage, exclaimed "Oh My God!", grabbed the dog and went back into the house!!!!

    I didn't know what to do. I was afraid to move. I tried my cell phone but I was in a narrow valley with no coverage. Just then a car came by. The driver stopped and said "Are you OK?" then looked down at my leg and repeated the "Oh My God!" tune. I gave her my home phone number and she drove off in search of a better signal.

    She no sooner left when the owner came back out with a bath towel and his portable phone. Apparently he had not been ignoring me, but wanted to contain the dog and get me some aid. I realized later that he didn't say anything because he was in almost as much shock as I was.

    I wrapped his bath towel around my leg, called my wife, and then my doctor. Since the nurse and receptionist were just getting into the office they said to come right over. The dog owner loaded me in his car and on the way he apologized greatly. He told me that the dog is not usually lose, but someone goofed and the dog got out. He has been very cooperative the whole time since the incident, providing Vet and insurance information.

    Since the Doctor's office was not open yet, the receptionist and nurse were able to come out to the car and check my leg. The towel was full of blood by this time, and when I removed it, the receptionist sang the now familiar ballad "Oh My God!".

    The nurse performed first aid while the receptionist called the ambulance to take me to the hospital ER. In the few short minutes it took the ambulance to get to me, the bandages were full and leaking. They replaced them and loaded me into the ambulance for the 45 minute drive to the city hospital. On the way, I held a little pail under my leg to catch the blood.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  4. #4
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The ER

    Since I did not have my wallet with me, I didn't have my insurance cards. By the time I got to the ER, my doctor's office had given them my insurance info, reported the incident to the police and confirmed that the dog had all her shots. The ER people told me that if the dog was not up to date with Rabies then I would have gotten about 45 very painful shots in my leg that same day.

    When the ER nurse first started washing the wound it felt like she was squirting fire on it instead of just water. That soon passed and the whole thing got pretty numb.
    This cell phone picture was taken in the ER after the wound was washed and before the staples.

    I told the nurse the photo was for "bragging rights" but it turns out that pictures are a good idea for legal reasons.

    After local anesthesia, the Doctor sutured up the torn vain (the reason for all the blood) . He then pulled my skin back into place as well as possible and stapled what he could. He gave me care instructions and the name of a plastic surgeon
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    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  5. #5
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Here's a picture of the stapled leg. This was taken about a week after the bite.

    By the time the doc was done stapling I was starting to feel woozy. He was showing me his handy work when my mind fell down a well. They put me on oxygen and intravenous fluids. Apparently my blood pressure had dropped really low from loss of blood.

    I stayed in the ER for a few hours to get my BP up. Meanwhile I called my wife and daughter to fill them in, and figure out how to get home.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  6. #6
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Released from the hospital

    The hospital gave me crutches and released me because I told them that I had a way home (35 miles away). This was not exactly true. I had a couple options lined up but nothing definite. Since I worked close by and usually took the 4:30 bus out of town I figured that I could always use that.

    I was released about noon and soon discovered that all my options for leaving the city before 4:30 fell through. All friends and family were more than 4 hours away for one reason or another. Now I faced the prospect of being alone in the city with no wallet, no money, no credit cards and no ID. All I had was my bike jersey, bike shorts, clipless shoes, a new pair of crutches and (thank god) my cell phone. I did not even have my bus pass but I hoped that the driver would remember me and let me on.

    Since I only ate a banana 6 hours ago, my immediate problem was hunger. I figured that some restaurant could take my wife's credit card info over the phone and use that to sell me lunch. No such luck. Three places refused me. I guess they didn't trust a spandex clad, moneyless guy on crutches. That day I got a little sample of what it feels like to be penniless and powerless in an American city.

    Eventually I went into a little deli and give them my sob story. A young woman (the manager) came over to tell me that they don't have the ability to take card numbers over the phone. She said that I should order what I want and she would personally pay for it. I was dumfounded. I thanked her, and promised to pay her back. All she said was "Ah, if you do, you do. If you don't, you don't. Don't worry about it." That was the best chicken sandwich I ever ate. I paid her back triple the next day.

    After my lunch and many a "Thank you" I started for the bus stop. Along the way I came across a few street people and homeless who looked at me and exclaimed "Whoa, man, what the f**k happened to you?" They were all very sympathetic listeners to my sad tale. Dressed as I was, would I have gotten so many sympathetic ears in the swanky business district? Would I have gotten a free lunch from one of the fancy restaurants in that area? I doubt it.

    Not long after I got to the bus stop, one of my friends called me back. Even though he could not get to me in time, his daughter (who I hardly knew) would take off from work and drive me home. This day, that started so lousy turned out to be truly profound - thanks to many good people who were willing to take pity on a fellow human.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  7. #7
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The cops, the law and the dog warden.

    Under Pennsylvania law, all doctors and hospitals are required to inform the police of dog bites. I got a call from the Pa State Police, investigating the dog bite. They took the details of the incident and told me that if I wanted, I could press charges against the dog owner. I decided not to. They also told me that I would be hearing form an "Animal Control Officer"

    The county dog warden called and told me a lot about Pa dog laws. After a dog bite, the warden is required to visit owner, inform him of the laws, assess the dog's viciousness, investigate the dog's history and determine what to do about the dog.

    After the first dog bite, a dog must be quarantined. There are two types of quarantines. One where he takes the dog from the owner, and the other (if the owner is cooperative) where the owner quarantines the dog in his house - only takes it outside for potty breaks on a leash at all times. I forget the length of time the quarantine lasts. At the end of the quarantine the warden reassess the dog.

    If the dog has a record of previous bites, the dog owner must register his dog with the state as a dangerous animal, keep it confined at all times, and purchase special insurance that costs about $3,000 a year. The only other option to all these things is the owner can agree to have the dog killed. You've heard of 3 strikes and you're out? Dogs in Pa get only 2 strikes.

    I know now that even a small bite should be reported so that it goes on the dogs record. This could save a third person from being a victim.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  8. #8
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The Insurance Company

    The dog owner reported the incident to his insurance company, and gave me the insurance info. I found out later that he also told the insurance claim rep that the incident was totally their fault. The rep made an appointment to see us in our home 2 days after the bite.

    Meanwhile I did a little dog bite research on the internet. It told me that I have a right to medical expenses, lost wages and 'pain and suffering' compensation. The 'pain and suffering' is usually figured to be about the same amount as the medical expenses. And finally that the average dog bite settlement is $25,000. That sounded more than reasonable to me. I wanted a just settlement from the insurance company and did not want to financially harm the owner. With this knowledge I thought I was ready to deal with the claims rep. I was wrong.

    The rep came in, all sympathetic and caring. She got my permission to tape record my story and proceeded to ask me all about the bite - in great detail. I told her all I could think of and gave her a photo of the wound. After she turned off the recorder, she asked me to sign a HIPPA release so that they could get my medical records.

    Then she got to the big question "Mike, what do you think you should get from this?" I said that all I wanted was Medical expenses, lost wages and a reasonable amount for pain and suffering. Lost wages was no problem. She said that 'pain and suffering' could be "discussed later" after the wound is healed.

    Then she hit me with a sledgehammer. "The owner’s insurance policy only covers $1,000 for medical. That's standard homeowner coverage. They're all like that. I want to make sure that you don't have any out-of-pocket medical expenses so here's what we should do. Let your health insurance pick up the main bill and we will pay the deductibles and co-pays. That way it won't cost you anything" She said with a concerned smile.

    I was dizzy. First the dog attack now the insurance attack. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and what I was facing - the possibility of this being a financial burden to me. I know that the medical bills would cost many thousands, and my health insurance would not be willing to pay - and rightfully so. I didn't say much to her except "OK". I knew that any more talking was useless. I was out gunned. She had all the knowledge and I had little or none.

    After she left I pulled out my homeowner’s policy. Since she had said that "All the policies are like that" I decided to see for myself. My policy stated that for us, medical liability was $100,000 ! Time to get help.

    I never had any dealing with lawyers. All that I knew was the serotype prejudice of the fast talking blood sucker. I didn't want a legal war and I didn't want to financially attack the dog owner, but the insurance company was giving me a screwing and I didn't like it. I determined to see a personal injury lawyer and hope for the best.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  9. #9
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    The lawyer

    It's not hard to find personal injury law firms. The biggest one in the area was on the back of the yellow pages book. They looked large, successful, and reputable so I thought I'd give them a try.

    In general here's what I learned on my first visit.
    The lawyer gets one third of any settlement - but what is left is usually bigger than payments without a lawyer.

    I should not have talked to the Insurance rep, much less let her tape me.

    I should not discuss details of the case with anyone outside my immediate family (the reason I removed the first BikeForums thread).

    The HIPPA paper can be revoked by the lawyer.

    This lawyer did not want to go after the home owner - just the insurance company.

    Pictures are great for getting a fair settlement. They say "A picture is worth a thousand words" but in injury cases it's probably worth a thousand dollars.

    Most of all - the $1,000 limit IS in all homeowners polices - but it only applies IF there is no legal liability. When a dog runs loose there IS liability. Remember that the insurance rep said that we "could talk about pain and suffering later"? If I had accepted the reps offer, then later they would have refused the P&S compensation because I failed to prove liability. IMO - Pretty sleazy.

    Lastly I learned that the Ins rep was just doing her job, which is to keep company costs down. I think that this is a foolish policy. It probably caused the insurance company to pay more in the long run.

    The lawyer sent me a copy of all correspondence, stopped the Insurance company from dealing with anyone but his office, collected info from the doctors, and sent the insurance company all 15 of the pictures I gave him over the next 3 months. Then he negotiated a fair settlement.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  10. #10
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    All's well that ends well


    It's almost 6 months later and the leg is almost healed. I still see the doctor about once a month. There have been no medical complications.

    The lawyer got a just settlement from the Insurance company. No I won't say how much.

    The dog owner got a fence.

    I got a case of the jitters that caused me to jump every time I heard a dog bark while I was cycling The nervousness only lasted about 2 months, but I will always be cautious.

    I got another can of 'HALT'. When I hear a dog bark I quickly look for the chain or fence. If the dog is loose, I act. By the time the dog hits the road either he gets the halt of I'm stopped with the bike between us while I grab the Halt.

    Finally, I got a bit of a scar. It's almost healed and it's not too bad. Here is a recent picture.
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    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  11. #11
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Lessons Learned:

    Always take my wallet and cell phone - even on short rides.

    Keep a can of 'Halt' on every bike. I wrap a loop of double sided Velcro around the steering tube and clip the Halt to that.

    When a dog barks check for confinement. If I don't see any, be prepared to act BEFORE the dog gets to the road.

    If anything like this happens again talk to my lawyer FIRST.

    Keep lots of good records and take photos.

    Lastly - don't let this spoil my outlook. There are a LOT of great people out there, willing to help a stranger.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR View Post

    The lawyer got a just settlement from the Insurance company. No I won't say how much.

    Fair enough, but could you say if it was more or less than the average of $25k?

  13. #13
    Icebike Junkie tdreyer1's Avatar
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    *goes to purchase Halt*
    This is a masterwork comment. All craftsdwarfship is of the highest quality. It is encircled with bands of cat leather. It is adorned with hanging rings of platinum. It is studded with malachite. It menaces with spikes of adamantine.
    On it is an image of a dwarf and oysters. The dwarf is cringing. The oysters are laughing.

    My Road Bike: Felt F75
    timdreyer.com/blog

  14. #14
    English Bloke
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    I remember reading your first posts about this. I'm glad things got resolved, obviously it would have been better that this did NOT happen in the first place. However, you've provided much food for thought should God helps us, any of us find ourselves in a similar situation.
    I hope you healing continues.
    Good luck, and thanks for the information.
    Dave
    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty or safety" Benjamin Franklin

  15. #15
    Grillparzer Grillparzer's Avatar
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    I am completely horrified. I don't know whether to ride my bike again or never, ever pet my dog.
    People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

  16. #16
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    This should be a sticky. You've provided a lot of great information.

    Thanks for sharing your story and I'm glad you're healing up.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    Thanks Mike. That was interesting and very educational, especially the contact with the insurance company.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  18. #18
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Very interesting and informative. Only one question, you said "And finally that the average dog bite settlement is $25,000". I don't care how much you got or the lawyer received. In fact, the insurance company probably would require non-disclosure as a price of settlement. But, did you come out ok financially? Did you come out over the "average"? That was a nasty bite.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  19. #19
    Senior Member tntyz's Avatar
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    Glad it ended up to your satisfaction. It was really cool about the people who helped you out of a jam. Very touching.

  20. #20
    just pokin' along desertdork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR View Post
    The lawyer sent me a copy of all correspondence, stopped the Insurance company from dealing with anyone but his office, collected info from the doctors, and sent the insurance company all 15 of the pictures I gave him over the next 3 months. Then he negotiated a fair settlement.
    In the three month interim, can you please state how the medical billing was handled? Did the insurance company pay for medical expenses from the start (and the settlement you mentioned was for wages/pain/suffering only)? Did the attorney stall any medical payments until the case was settled in full? Or perhaps you had to deal with the medical offices on your own? Excuse my ignorance on the matters, as I've not had a similar situation. I've not personally known hospitals/physicians to be overly patient with medical payments. (Not a knock at them, either, btw).

    Thanks for taking the time to make sense of the type of incident many of us here fear. Kudos for acknowledging those that made that very rough day a bit brighter afterall.

  21. #21
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    Thanks, Mike, for such a thorough report.

    I'm glad everything worked out well under the circumstances, and that you're back on the bike.

  22. #22
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Great story.

  23. #23
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
    Fair enough, but could you say if it was more or less than the average of $25k?
    It was right in that neighborhood.

    Remember that the average includes a lot of little kids with bad facial wounds requiring a lot of plastic surgery.
    Last edited by MikeR; 09-18-09 at 07:07 PM.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  24. #24
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdreyer1 View Post

    *goes to purchase Halt*
    Good idea. It doesn't really hurt them. It's pretty mild, but it works.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  25. #25
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grillparzer View Post
    I am completely horrified. I don't know whether to ride my bike again or never, ever pet my dog.
    I now like cats a lot better than dogs.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

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