- Dog bites can cause severe physical and emotional damages.
- Dog owners are typically liable for the damages caused by their dogs.
- In the immediate aftermath of a dog bite, seek medical attention, take careful records of the incident, and file a report.
- Contact a dog bite lawyer for the best chances of success in pursuing a claim.
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Dog bites are a serious issue. Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in America, and over half of the victims are children. Dog bites can result in severe injuries, and the mental and emotional trauma can linger long after the incident takes place.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your damages, but you may not know where to start. Contact the dog bite lawyers at Werner, Hoffman & Greig today to schedule a consultation. You can call us at (800) 320-HELP or fill out our online contact form.
Understanding Dog Bite Laws
Laws surrounding dog bites and personal injury claims for these attacks vary from state to state. Generally, state legislation around dog bites is divided into two categories: one bite rules and strict liability rules.
- Under one bite rules, dog owners are usually only held liable for the attack if there was reason to suspect their dog may be dangerous, like if they’ve bitten someone before.
- In strict liability states, the owner is always responsible for all damages caused by their dog’s actions, even if the dog has never been a problem before.
Check with the rules in your state or contact a dog bite attorney for help understanding the legal landscape in your state and how it may affect your case.
Homeowner’s Insurance and Liability
In most cases, a homeowner’s insurance policy will cover damages resulting from a dog bite. However, there may be some exceptions, like if the owner knew the dog was dangerous or failed to take reasonable steps to create a safe environment.
Some homeowner’s insurance policies also have breed-specific restrictions that may leave the owner personally liable for a dog bite.
Common Legal Defenses in Dog Bite Cases
There are a number of legal defenses that dog owners may employ in the event that their dog bites someone. Some examples include:
- Provocation: The victim provoked the dog to bite or otherwise encouraged it to act out.
- Trespassing: The victim was trespassing on the owner’s property.
- Assumption of the risk: The victim knew the dog was dangerous and freely chose to interact with it anyway.
Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
Dog bites can cause devastating injuries. Beyond the significant physical injuries that a bite can cause, victims may also suffer psychological trauma and other long-term consequences.
Dog bites are a leading cause of non-fatal emergency room visits, particularly in children. Dogs can bite with tremendous force, and even smaller breeds can still do severe damage with their teeth.
Some of the most common types of injuries caused by dog bites include:
- Puncture wounds: Deep punctures caused by a dog’s teeth can be very painful and lead to infection.
- Lacerations: Dog bites can cause cuts or tears in the skin, and particularly deep lacerations may cause significant blood loss and require stitches to close.
- Broken bones: Dogs have powerful bites, and many will instinctively shake their heads after a bite. This can break or fracture bones, particularly in the hands, arms, and legs.
- Infection: Dog bites can introduce harmful bacteria into the body, which may lead to serious infections.
- Tissue damage: Dog bites can damage the muscles, tendons, and nerves in the body, which may lead to pain, weakness, or numbness.
If you have suffered a dog bite, get checked out by a medical professional right away. Some wounds may be more serious than they appear, and it’s always better to be safe.
Dog bites can cause severe psychological trauma in addition to the physical injuries. Victims may experience a debilitating fear of dogs, even dogs that they had previously enjoyed friendly relationships with. Anxiety is common, both generalized and around dogs.
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a typical result of dog bite attacks, leaving victims with nightmares, flashbacks, or hypervigilance.
Victims may also suffer social isolation, avoiding going out for fear of being around dogs.
The physical and psychological damage of a dog attack can lead to long-term consequences. Victims may require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation and may suffer mobility issues years after the initial attack. Psychological trauma may require long-term therapy and counseling.
What to do After a Dog Bite
If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to take action right away to protect your physical safety and your legal rights.
In the immediate aftermath of a dog bite, take whatever action is necessary to prevent further harm. Wash the wound carefully to avoid infection, and apply pressure or bandages to stop any severe bleeding.
As soon as possible, make sure to seek professional medical attention for the bite wounds. This will help prevent infection and other complications and provide documentation of the extent of your injuries.
Report the Incident
Report the dog bite incident to your local animal control authorities right away. This will help them track the dog and prevent any further attacks.
Any evidence you can collect will be crucial for supporting your side of the story. Take pictures of your wounds and of the scene of the attack. Gather statements and contact information from anyone who witnessed the attack.
Contact an Attorney
You should also contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced lawyers at Werner, Hoffman & Greig can help you assess your legal options and, if necessary, pursue a claim against the dog owners. Contact us today.
Damages You Can Recover After a Dog Bite
If you have been bitten by a dog, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. These damages can include:
- Medical expenses such as emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medication, rehabilitation, or mental health treatment.
- Lost wages if you were unable to work as a result of your injury.
- Pain and suffering damages for the physical and mental pain you suffered as a result of the injury.
- Emotional distress for any long-term psychological impacts you may have suffered, such as anxiety, PTSD, or a fear of dogs.
- Punitive damages designed to deter the dog owner from further misconduct may also be awarded in particularly intense cases.
The amount of damages you’re able to recover in a personal injury claim may vary depending on factors like the severity of your injuries, the amount of your medical expenses, the length of time you were unable to work, and whether or not the dog owner was negligent or reckless.
Working with an experienced dog bite lawyer can help you understand the damages you’ve suffered and the dog owner’s liability.
Contact WHG to Speak with an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer
Werner, Hoffman & Greig has a team of experienced dog bite lawyers ready to help you seek justice after your injury. We will have your back every step of the way, from investigating the incident to negotiating with insurance companies to representing you in court.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, contact WHG today at (800) 320-HELP or online to schedule a consultation. We will help you protect your legal rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do I have to file a dog bite claim?
Typically, you have two years to file a claim after a dog bite incident, though the specifics may vary between jurisdictions. Some exceptions may apply, like if you were a minor at the time of the incident. Consult with a dog bite lawyer to fully understand your rights.
Can I sue for a dog bite if the dog has never bitten anyone before?
Yes, you can sue for a dog bite even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. In states with strict liability rules, the dog owner is always liable for damages caused by their dog. In states with one bite rules, the owner may still be liable even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, especially if they have acted negligently.
What are the consequences for a dog after a biting incident?
The consequences for a dog after a biting incident may vary depending on the jurisdiction in which the attack took place and the severity of the incident. The dog may be confined to a fenced-in area, muzzled, or tested for rabies. In extreme cases, the dog may be euthanized.
Who is liable for my injuries in a dog bite claim?
The dog owner is typically liable for your injuries in a dog bite claim. Some exceptions may apply, such as if the dog was provoked or if the victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property.