My daughter was bitten in September 2008 at a family gathering. I remember very distinctly having to keep the sutures moist to prevent scabbing, the emotional turmoil of feeling so guilty for not somehow seeing the future to prevent my child from getting hurt, and the agony of feeling torn about what to do to ensure this would have the best possible outcome for my daughter’s future. I am a single mom, and had to hide my tears until she went to bed, when I would lose all emotional composure from the feelings this accident induced. I spent hours researching dog bite cases, how insurance agencies handled settlements, and had no one here on those lonely nights to ask what to do, what the best option was, and felt like the biggest decision of my child’s life rested on me doing the right thing not only by her, but by the family. I know how exhausting that is.
In all of this, I found out that insurance agencies can get kick backs off the settlement trust fund that you trust is set up safely for your child. They aren’t there to represent you and they don’t have your best interest in mind, for they are all about settling for the lowest possible amount. When I consulted with Ken Phillips, he asked me one question that cut to the core of the matter, and has stayed with me all this time. He asked “While you are thinking of your family, and how you don’t want to upset them, who is thinking of your daughter? Who has her best interests in mind?” You know what? He was dead right. I was killing myself trying to do right by the very family that turned against me in a heartbeat for standing up and being her advocate, for making sure that this was handled in the safest manner possible, in a way I could trust, with someone working for our benefit.
I never had the dog put down. Some parents may disagree with me on that, but I didn’t want the death of their pet to be on my conscious. That is a decision most parents don’t realize you can make. I also know that I have insurance on my home and my car, so if an accident ever happens, I am covered to take care of those that may get hurt on my property or by my vehicle. That is what insurance is for. I never sued my family. They have their home, no wages garnished; nothing financial came to hurt them by ensuring my daughter got a small ray of hope out of a tragedy. The money and lawsuit went after the insurance company that received every premium they paid for that very reason. Unfortunately, the family chose to regard it as judging me because “family doesn’t sue family”. The thing is, they might be named on the papers, but nothing ever hurt them out of this, while my daughter will carry a scar for life. So had I done it their way, settled with the insurance company myself for a fraction of the emotional damage I witnessed my daughter go through, no one would have had her best interest in mind and she would’ve lost out on a brighter future. The family was being selfish, not I by getting help.
Please realize that you are the only advocate your child has. Ken and his office have given me so much support and hope, helped me to realize that I’m not alone, and that we aren’t going to be taken advantage of while an adjustor gets a raise for settling his accounts lower than average. Please take the time to step back from the emotions, realize that true family supports and loves, and will realize that you are a parent before anything else, and your child needs his/her best chance in this horrible event. I cannot tell you in words the peace of mind I have found during this process, and in realizing that had it been my own dog, I would never walk away from someone taking care of their child for what my pet did to them. Isn’t it so sad that we try so hard to do the right thing, while not realizing that our child is all that’s right and good, and there isn’t any better or more right decision than protecting them the best we can, by having our own advocate fight for us too? That’s what Ken Phillips did for me. My tears and words can never express the appreciation I feel at knowing that I made the best choice, that her money is going to be safe in a trust fund where no one can touch it, and that the little bit of brightness this gives her future will never erase what happened to her, but I helped her to at least have that to look forward to. I thank God every day for Mr. Phillips help and the pride I feel in knowing I did right by the only person that truly mattered, the only victim in all of this: my daughter.