Question: What can be done if my 9-year-old girl was attacked by a dog and chucked her bottom lip which is now missing, has a scar and is disfigured?

Question Detail: Almost a year ago, this happened. I don't know if she will have plastic surgery yet, right now we are seeing how it heals, thank God it looks better than I thought it would but it is still not normal and as her mother I am afraid its healed as much as its going to and I'm 90% sure surgery will be required in the future. The person's homeowners insurance and my lawyer are already trying to settle. I said I want to make sure her future medical bills are paid for and want to wait to see what the surgeon says in April. The lawyer says it is best to settle now before surgery and my daughters insurance which is only Medicaid will pay future bills. This does not make sense to me. I thought homeowners insurance covering the person at fault should pay for future bills and I'm worried Medicaid can take her money. And then I wonder will I have to pay the bills? My next question is they want to settle for $125,000. After lawyer cost $86,000 and cannot be touched until 18 or said money could go in an annuity spread over 4 yrs, 18, 19, 20, 21 and with interest will grow to $98,000 is my only other option. Someone told me they went to court and invested their child's money themselves with a much better interest rate! I want what is best for my child and desperately need the correct answers fast since I'm being pestered to settle. I am not a lawyer and need help! Thank you very much; I hope u can help with sincere advice!

Answer: Frankly I don’t like giving answers to questions when a lawyer is already involved. I don’t like anyone interfering with my client’s case when they have less than complete information and I suspect other lawyers don’t like me sticking my nose in their cases.

With that said one thing you say does concern me and if it is true I would have different advice than your lawyer does. So let us assess this one point as a second opinion and if anyone wants to hire me to give a second opinion you know where to find me.

Here is my concern: If your child’s case is settled and the money is in a conservatorship bank account when future surgery is required the money she now owns is considered an asset and she will probably not be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a public assistance program for the poor. Someone with $86,000 in the bank is not considered poor. You need to settle for an amount that takes into account the costs of future surgery. There is no free lunch on the backs of the taxpayers. I suspect you know this and that is what bothers you about the advice you are receiving. You have good instincts, trust them.

And consider this advice to people with a similar problem and who have not hired a lawyer.

You can hire lawyers that understand the law, then sue the owners of the dog or you can sit at home, searching on the Internet for a free and a different answer to your legal questions. You can let the owners get away with it or you can find a lawyer to hold them responsible for their carelessness that has turned your 9-year-old daughter into a girl who sits at home waiting for the phone to ring, hoping someone will ask her out to the prom. My advice about which financial choice to make comes at a price. If your lawyers don’t understand how to explain the options in front of you then perhaps you need a second opinion. A second opinion of mine would costs $5,000. Make the wrong choice and it can cost you much more.  Call with questions and good luck with the Iowa personal injury dog bite case.

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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