Suffering an attack by a dog is a terrifying experience and incident that can leave you with painful injuries, scars, or disfigurement. If a dog attacks and causes you harm, you can suffer economic and noneconomic losses that affect your life. In many of these instances, their owner may be liable when a dog attacks a person without provocation and causes injury and damages. Dog bite laws can vary depending on the location where the incident occurs; if you are a dog bite or attack victim, a dog bite accident attorney can help answer your questions and determine whether you may be eligible for compensation in your case.
Is a Dog Attack the Same as a Dog Bite?
You may interchangeably hear or use the term dog attack or dog bite when describing an encounter with a dog that causes you harm. However, under the law, there may be a difference depending on the wording of the statute and the injuries you sustain as a result of the attack. A dog can attack and cause a victim harm by knocking or pushing them down or causing a victim to startle and fall to the ground.
A dog bite occurs when a dog’s teeth leave an impression or break a victim’s skin, causing a wound or bleeding. The differentiation between a dog bite and a dog attack can matter when determining the laws applicable to the incident and the standard a victim must prove to get compensation for their losses under the law. A dog bite injury lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you on your rights under the law and what avenues may be available to you to pursue compensation against the party responsible for the dog bite or attack.
Dog Bite Laws
Every state has laws that govern a victim’s rights following a dog bite or attack. In some states, a dog bite is a strict liability case, whereas if a victim proves that a dog bite occurred and there was no provocation, the animal’s owner is automatically liable for the victim’s damages. When strict liability applies, there is often no need for a victim to establish negligence or an animal’s dangerous propensities based on past behavior. In this situation, a victim needs to only show they suffered injuries and did not provoke the animal to establish liability of the dog’s owner.
Strict liability, however, is not the law in every state. In most instances, strict liability applies only when a dog bite occurs. An attack without evidence of a bite from a dog may not be sufficient to qualify for the standard application. This does not mean, however, that a victim does not have a recourse. Without strict liability, a dog bite or dog attack victim can still pursue compensation under the traditional negligence standard. They can prove their case by showing how their injuries and subsequent damages result from the dog owner’s negligence.
One Bite Rules
Some states have adopted so-called one-bite rules into law. Under these rules, strict liability for a dog bite or attack may occur, but only if an owner knows the dog’s dangerous propensities. In other words, a dog gets one free bite, but if they attack after that, there is a presumption that the dog is dangerous, and the owner may be liable for additional damages.
Depending on the jurisdiction, each has differing laws that apply to dog bites and attacks and different requirements a victim must show. A dog bite accident lawyer can help you understand the laws that apply in your state and how you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. Additionally, dog bite laws can limit the kind of compensation available to a victim and the amount.
What Are the Possible Long-Term Implications of a Dog Bite?
Any injury can face complications during the recovery period. However, dog bites are especially susceptible to risks and complications, such as developing an infection or transmitting a disease or bacteria through the wound. Sometimes, complications can lead to life-threatening conditions such as septic shock. Depending on the severity and extent of the wounds and injuries from a dog bite, a victim may also require surgeries, treatments, or medications to alleviate the pain and reduce the risk of complications.
Severe bite injuries can result in nerve damage, broken bones, torn ligaments, and other internal damage. Additionally, dog bite attacks can cause a person to fall to the ground or into nearby objects risking possible head and back injuries such as a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury. Any dog bite injury can result in long-term impacts that interfere with a person’s ability to function and enjoy life.
Can the Severity of Your Dog Bite Injury Influence the Available Compensation?
The level of the dog bite you suffer, and the extent of the injuries you sustain can directly correlate and impact the compensation you may be eligible to receive as part of a claim or lawsuit. A medical provider may rate your dog bite injury in terms of severity from a scale of Level one to Level six. Level one bites are the least serious level, where there is no skin involvement, to Level six, where the victim succumbs to their injuries and dies. When determining the compensation in your case, your lawyer can gather your medical records to determine how severe your injuries are and how much of an impact those injuries may continue to have on your life.
Can You File an Insurance Claim for a Dog Bite Injury?
In many instances, insurance coverage covers a dog bite attack. Property insurance coverage such as homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, and other liability coverages often cover a dog owner’s dog bite or attack. For example, filing an insurance claim may be the first approach a dog bite attorney may take to try to reach the best possible resolution in your case. There are situations in which an insurance claim may not be possible or a settlement is unsuccessful, which would, in turn, lead to a possible dog bite lawsuit filing.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Help You Following a Dog Bite?
You should consult with a dog bite lawyer if you suffer a dog bite or dog attack leaving you with injuries. It is challenging as a victim to get the maximum compensation you may be eligible for without the help of a lawyer. Tracking down the responsible party, figuring out the available insurance coverage, and determining your damages can be complex. A dog bite attorney can help you through the process and help you seek the maximum compensation you may be eligible for under the law.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for a Dog Bite?
Yes, there is a statute of limitations for victims of dog bites. In most instances, the statute of limitations can be as little as a year to upwards of four years, depending on your jurisdiction. Abiding by the statute of limitations is necessary to protect and preserve your right to seek compensation for your damages. Talk to your lawyer about the date of the dog bite incident and the statute of limitations in your case. If you contact a dog bite attorney as soon as possible following a dog attack, you can rest assured you will be well within the statute of limitations.
How Common Are Dog Bites in the U.S.?
Dog bite victims are quite common across the U.S. Reports estimate that during one year, there are over 4.5 million people that will sustain a dog bite. Of those millions of dog bite victims, over 800,000 will require some level of medical attention. According to the CDC, the most vulnerable victims of dog bites are children, as they are the vast majority of the dog bite victims. Children are also most susceptible to severe injuries or death due to a dog attack.
What Should You Do if You Are a Victim of a Dog Attack?
As a dog attack victim, you want to act as quickly as possible following an incident to ensure you can take action to protect your rights and seek compensation against the parties responsible. The most pressing matter when a dog bite happens is to figure out who the dog’s owner is. In cases where a dog bite occurs within a known acquaintance’s private home or property, figuring out the responsibility may be straightforward. However, if an attack occurs on public property or the dog is loose and attacks you in the street, then you must track down the owner with the help of law enforcement if possible.
Report the Bite
Not all dog bites occur in a situation where someone will call the police to the scene. It may happen when the dog causes severe injuries and continues to be a danger to the public, but in most instances, a victim will likely go to a hospital immediately after the bite occurs. As soon as you have an opportunity, you should immediately report the dog bite to your local police department or the local animal control agency. You must do so not only for your well-being but also for your case. By reporting the bite, you may also access information about the dog’s vaccination status, which can help your medical team manage and plan your treatment.
See Your Doctor
After receiving emergency treatment for your dog bite, you should continue to follow up and communicate with your doctor. Dog bites require attentive care in the following days and weeks to catch any signs of possible infection or disease. Continue your treatment plan, and contact your doctor for any signs of a worsening condition.
Collect Evidence if Possible
Gather all evidence that may be available to you that can prove the dog bite occurred and the damage you incurred. Photographs, home security cameras, and other videos can help you prove the incident and identify the dog. Additionally, you should gather the information of any witnesses that could benefit your case. Also, collecting your medical records and any bills you receive can help with your case. When you meet with your lawyer, you can provide the information you have collected for them to review in preparation for your claim and case.
Call a Dog Attack Lawyer
A personal injury attorney handles cases of dog bite victims as part of their practice and understands how to fight for their clients’ best possible resolution. If you suffer any injury because of a sudden and unprovoked dog attack, contact a lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your case and the legal options that may be available based on the evidence in your case. Dog bites can cause an interruption in your life where you incur expensive medical bills and may be unable to work for some time. You have a right to hold the parties at fault for your injuries responsible for the losses you suffer because of a dog bite.