Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Of Dog Bites and Law Suits

For those of you who don't know, around this time last year Shane was bitten by a neighbor's dog. The bite was quite serious. Because of its location (about 6 inches above the wrist, where there are many nerves, tendons and ligaments that operate the hand), and because of Shane's type of work (he's an ironworker), our doctor would not release him to return to work for nine days.

The neighbor in question is a ne'er-do-well sort, and true to her nature, she took no responsibility for her dog. She didn't even offer an apology, let alone offer to help with bills or provide us with the name and phone number of her insurance agent.

Our city does not require a vicious dog to be euthanized, and in fact, it took many conversations with our local police, animal control and city councilman to force her to get rid of the dog, which was a pit bull mix. But she finally did send the dog elsewhere.

However, there was still the issue of recovering our financial losses. In addition to the ambulance bill (which the EMTs insisted on), the emergency room bill and our primary care physician's bill, there were nine days of lost wages to consider. Shane also lost 72 hours worth of benefits that would have been paid into his retirement and pension accounts, had he been able to work. All together, it amounted to a few thousand dollars.

When we retained our attorney, that's exactly what we asked for, with just enough extra tacked on to cover the attorney's fees. We weren't asking for a "pain and suffering" amount. We simply wanted to regain what we'd lost.

Our attorney, however, was more aggressive, as I suppose a good attorney should be. He called today saying that a settlement had been offered. It was a good offer, yet he advised us to counter offer for a little more.

Shane and I took some time to consider the offer separately, then compared notes and had come to nearly the same decision. Call it superstition, or karma, "what goes around comes around" or maybe just doing the right thing, but we each had decided we didn't want to counter for more. The offer they were making was considerably more than we'd asked for or anticipated. Neither of us could see the point in being greedy. Things have been going very well for us lately, and I, especially, felt that to ask for more was tempting fate -- opening a door to negativity.

We also agreed on what we should do with the small windfall after the outstanding medical bills have been paid. After toying with the idea of using the money to building (or at least start) a detached garage, which we need badly, we decided instead to apply most of it to our auto loan. It won't pay it off, but it will put a very big dent in the balance. First we are going to take a portion of the money to put privacy gates up on either side of our house, effectively extending the privacy fence the neighbor installed after it was to late to keep her dog contained. Whatever is left will go toward the auto loan.

What do you think? Would you have countered for more? Would you have spent the money on things you needed or would you have done something fun with it, like take a vacation? Would you and your spouse have disagreed on these things? Shane and I were completely in tune with our decisions; I'm curious how others would have handled it.


Tug said...

In my humble opinion, you.did.good! I'd have done the much as I would love to 'splurge', it's just a great feeling to have things paid off. I have no spouse, but I totally agree with not being greedy also - I have never seen that pay off.

I was wondering if you'd ever heard anything on this - I'm glad you will finally get closure, and it will cover the expenses.

Donna said...

I believe in being able to live with myself. Greed will Always come back on you. Y'all did the right thing!! How to spend it?? If I had any outstanding c/card balances, and Knew I would not create them again, without being able to pay it off each month, I'd pay them off(interest is just too high on them). If the car loan monthly pymt is over 250.00 a mo., pay it off...Then you can apply that car pymt onto the Principle Only of your mortgage...Good luck deciding sweetie!!hughugs

DadGuy said...

Considering the context of the blog, I'm assuming you're going to get good reviews from your readers. =)

I think myself, I'd take a small portion of the money and have some fun with it and be responsible for the rest. In my current situation I'd probably sock a third to half of it away (as we don't have a terribly large savings right now, which equates to a less than ideal emergency fund) and maybe hit some of our smaller outstanding debts. And, specifically in the position I am in right now I'd be sure to spend the rest on the basement. We've got enough to get the finish carpentry and possibly paint done, but carpet and flooring for the bathroom is something else entirely. =)

Oh... As for my fun money, I'd probably buy one of these

Lisa said...

annie I would have agreed with you, dont push it! gotta remember that Karma... but I would have lost out and my hubby would have agreed with the attorney. :(