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Case Story of Andrew W.

Andrew was the pastor at a church in Sussex County, Delaware.  Following Sunday service, Andrew and his wife decided to visit a housebound parishioner.  It was a beautiful April morning, so they decided to ride their bikes.  Along the way, they met up with Bear. 

Bear was a dog of mixed breeds who was usually kept in a fenced yard.  One of the reasons for this was that Bear had a history of chasing people on bikes.  On this particular day, the gate to the yard was not properly shut.  Bear escaped and chased Andrew and his wife on their bikes. 

Bear first went after Andrew’s wife.  As this was happening, Andrew tried to distract the dog.  Bear then ran into Andrew’s tire, causing Andrew to fall.  Andrew injured his left ribs, suffered a pulmonary contusion, and a collapsed lung.  His most significant injury was a broken collar bone which required surgery with the insertion of a plate and screws, and was hospitalized for five days.

Under Delaware law, there is strict liability to an owner of a dog who does not keep their dog on a leash.  The defendants were given a citation by the State of Delaware and paid the citation, which is an admission.

This case was unique in that it was considered to be both a premises liability case and, because Andrew was performing his duties as pastor, a workers’ compensation claim was also filed.  Together, these claims addressed the issues of medical bills, lost wages, permanent partial disability, and disfigurement.

The workers’ compensation claim proceeded and Andrew was paid his medical bills, lost wages, and an amount for permanent partial benefits.  A lawsuit was filed against the dog owners.  After extensive proceedings, the case settled.  The settlement addressed the amounts paid by the workers’ compensation carrier as well as compensating Andrew for his past and future pain and suffering.

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