Dog bites can happen at any time to anyone. Here’s what to do if you’re a victim — and what you may be owed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 5 million dog bites occur yearly in the United States, and about 800,000 cases need medical care. The most common victims of dog bites: children. Children are also the most likely of dog bite victims to be severely injured.
Apart from heading directly to the hospital, what can victims do after a dog bite injury that possibly incurred substantial medical bills, lost work wages, and pain and suffering? That’s where a dog bite attorney comes in.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
There’s no one reason dogs bite — but any dog can bite, no matter the size, age, or breed.
According to the Spruce Pets, when dogs bite, they most commonly feel threatened and revert to instinctual defensive or aggressive behavior.
Dogs also commonly bite because they’re startled by something (a surprise touch or seeing threatening behavior), they’re protecting something (such as food or a toy), or when they’re running away or engaging with another dog, even playfully.
If a dog isn’t feeling well or is injured, says The Spruce Pets, it’s common for them to bite because they don’t want to be touched or approached in any way.
Dogs can also bite humans when people do not behave in proper engagement behavior with dogs.
People who are bit often approach or touch an unfamiliar dog, touch them in a wrong way or interact with them during sensitive times, such as mealtime or when they’re feeding their young.
What Kind of Dog Bite Injuries Occur?
There are several levels of dog bite types and injuries.
According to usadogbehavior.com, level 1 doesn’t include directly contacting human skin; level 2 has skin contact but not breaking the skin; levels 3 and 4 involve increasing levels of breaking skin severity; level 5 is heavy puncture wounds or multiple attacks; level 6 is fatal.
In general, dog bite injuries range from minor cuts and scrapes to deep wounds, brain injury, excessive blood loss, and broken bones. There are also risks for bacterial infections and the rabies virus, which is transferred by saliva.
What Could You Be Owed After a Dog Bite?
Dog bite victims may be eligible to receive compensation for their injuries and emotional trauma.
Injuries that may lead to compensation include infections, bruises, tetanus, wounds, torn muscles, broken bones, and more.
After receiving medical care, victims should prioritize documenting the incident and injuries. They should write about exactly what happened, where it happened, list all of the injuries and parties involved, and get basic information from witnesses if there were any.
Victims should identify the dog owner themselves, but often a dog bite attorney can find owners as well.
After reporting a bite, consulting with a dog bite attorney is the next step.
Dog bite attorneys can review your case, talk about the extent of your injuries and the emotional impact of the incident and talk about the next steps.
Each state has unique dog bite regulations, and some have a deadline to report cases, usually a few years or so.
Possible compensation includes monetary settlements with dog owners since the owners are usually liable for the actions of their dogs.
Victims may also potentially receive compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, and damages if the dog owner’s behavior was egregious. Lost income due to injury is also often considered in lawsuits.
According to a survey conducted through American Veterinary Medical Association insurance data, in 2019, the average dog bite claim settlement was about $44,000.
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