Dog Bite Lawyer
Not only can a dog bite come with immense emotional trauma, but it can also cause severe physical repercussions.
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that around 38% of US households own at least one dog. While dogs are often a source of joy and companionship, some canine interactions can be traumatic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs yearly, and more than 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bite injuries.
A dog bite can cause significant costs to you and your loved one, including medical expenses, trauma, and the risk of scarring or disfigurement. If another person’s dog bit you, you have the right to pursue legal action for these losses.
Injury Lawyer Team, sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices, can help you navigate dog bite laws and recover compensation for your injuries. Contact our dog bite lawyers today for a free case evaluation.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
All dogs can bite, regardless of age, sex, breed, size, or temperament. However, when a dog bites someone, it is usually a reaction to something, such as:
- Fear: A dog can become aggressive when it fears something or someone. When a dog bites out of fear, it usually tries to create distance from whatever scares them.
- Surprise: A dog can bite if startled, especially if they have been sleeping. A dog taken by surprise may feel disoriented and bite as a first reaction.
- Protecting or Guarding: Dogs are territorial creatures, especially over their space, toys, and food. Biting when someone or something tries to take away a valuable thing can be part of a dog’s resource guarding behavior. Moreover, a dog can bite if they feel something or someone is threatening its owners.
- Frustration: Feeling frustrated can lead to biting, such as when a dog is feeling trapped or is trying to reach something but is being held back.
- Pain: Illness and pain can be overwhelming for dogs, and they can bite as a result. An injured or ill dog can bite even its owner if they are in pain.
Are Certain Breeds More Likely to Bite?
While any dog can bite, certain dog breeds are more frequent biters. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) , the breeds that bite the most are:
- Pit bulls
- Mixed breeds
- German shepherds
Studies show that pit bull dog breeds bite the most and cause the worst damage to victims. Similarly, mixed breeds, German shepherds, terriers, and rottweilers are frequent biters but cause moderate damage compared to pit bull breeds.
However, small dogs can also bite, including:
- Shih Tzus
- Cocker spaniels
Common Injuries in Dog Bite Victims
Dog bite injuries can range from mild to potentially life-threatening. Typical dog bite injuries include:
- Broken Bones: Some breeds have jaws that can break bones, especially when the dog bite victim is a child.
- Amputation: Severe dog bite injuries can lead to the amputation of a limb.
- Lacerations and Puncture Wounds: These injuries are the most common effects of a dog bite. A dog’s teeth can cut through skin and muscle, cause deep lacerations, and sometimes even tear away chunks of flesh.
- Eye Injuries: A dog’s bite on the face can lead to eye injuries. A severe dog bite injury to the eye can even lead to loss of sight.
- Infections: A dog’s mouth contains millions of bacteria that can cause a dog bite victim infection. When left untreated, dog bites can lead to potentially fatal infections like staph and strep infections.
- Wrongful Death: The worst dog bite injuries can lead to death, especially if the victim is bitten near an artery or develops a deadly infection.
What to Do If a Dog Bites You
Any dog attack can be panic inducing, but you must keep a level head and follow these steps:
- Evacuate the Scene: Find a way to escape if a dog bit you and it refuses to back down. Do not run, as this will only encourage the dog to chase after you. Instead, back away slowly while facing the dog and yelling in a loud, firm voice. Try to distract it by throwing a rock or stick near it.
- Evaluate Your Injuries: Seek medical attention at the ER if your injuries are severe. Otherwise, clean your wounds at home.
- Treat Your Injuries: Wash the wound in warm water and mild soap, slow the bleeding with a clean cloth, and apply antibiotic cream. Wrap the wound in sterile gauze or bandage.
- See a Doctor.: The biggest concern after a dog attack is avoiding infection. See a doctor as soon as possible to ensure your dog bite injury has a low chance of getting infected.
- Call the Authorities: Alert the police or animal control of the potentially dangerous dog in your neighborhood. Call the dog’s owner to inform them of the incident.
- Call a Dog Bite Lawyer: Most dog bites lead to personal injury cases. It may be in your best interest to take preemptive measures and call a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite?
The owner is usually the one held liable if their dog bites someone. However, the owner’s liability may depend on the case’s specifics.
Nevertheless, many states hold dog owners liable for their dog’s actions regardless of whether they were aware of their pet’s tendency to bite or become aggressive.
Factors Affecting the Liability of a Dog Owner
Dog bite victims must prove the liability of the owners or caretakers to successfully file a legal claim. Several factors can affect the liability of a dog owner, including:
A dog owner might not be liable if the injured victim was trespassing on the owner’s private property when a dog bit them. However, exceptions apply to some dog bite cases, such as when the victim is a child.
When a dog attacks after someone provokes it, its owner may not be liable for the dog bite victim’s injuries. Acts of provocation may include teasing, yelling, touching, or throwing objects at a dog.
Dog owners could be liable for dog bite injuries if the injury resulted from negligence or recklessness, such as failure to comply with leash laws. To prove negligence, dog bite victims must show that the owner’s failure to follow regulations or control their dogs directly resulted in their injuries.
Most states follow the strict liability rule regarding animal attacks. This rule states that the owner is responsible if the attack occurred where the victim was legally allowed to be. However, this rule has some exceptions, such as bites involving police and military dogs.
One Bite Rule
Some states follow the one-bite rule, which says the owner is liable if they should have known that the animal might act violently or dangerously. This theory revolves around the idea that an animal gets one free bite, and afterward, the owner is aware of and responsible for the animal’s violent tendencies.
Proving Liability Under the One Bite Rule
The application of this rule varies from state to state. But, in general, someone will be held liable for the attack if the victim can show that:
- The animal had a tendency to act in a dangerous or harmful way
- The owner knew or should have known about the animal’s dangerous tendency
- The animal’s dangerous tendency caused injuries or damage to a person or property
Apart from bites, this theory of liability can also apply to other types of harm, such as when an animal knocks over a small child. It may also apply to the first time an animal bites a person if its harmful tendencies were otherwise apparent, e.g., the dog was a guard dog.
Our personal injury lawyers will help you seek justice regardless of the liability theory your state follows.
How to File a Dog Bite Claim
Were you or a loved one a victim of a vicious dog bite? If so, you could be eligible to receive financial compensation for your injuries. First, you must file a personal injury claim with the help of a dog bite attorney.
The Role of Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Some victims of dog bites handle their cases without legal help. However, dog bite laws can be confusing, and it’s best to have a dog bite attorney to help you negotiate a fair settlement.
A dog bite lawyer can help you:
- Understand your state’s dog bite liability laws
- Investigate how and why the animal attacked you
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- Assess the extent of your damages
- Negotiate the value of your settlement
- File your claim within the statute of limitations
- Consult legal and animal experts
- File a dog bite injury lawsuit in civil court, if needed
By filing a dog bite claim, you could recover financial compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for your medical expenses, including hospitalization, medication, surgery, etc.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages (e.g., mobility aids, physical therapy) if you become disabled from the dog bite incident.
- Loss of Income: Compensation for the wages and income you’ve lost while recovering from the dog attack.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, mental trauma, and other physical and non-physical injuries caused by the dog bite.
- Scarring and Disfigurement: Compensation for medical bills, trauma, loss of quality of life, and other damages associated with scarring or disfigurement from a dog bite.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages, including funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical treatment, loss of consortium, etc.
Your personal injury lawyer will estimate the value of your settlement based on these damages during your free case evaluation.
Proving the liability of the dog’s owner requires substantial evidence. Your dog bite injury lawyer will help you gather the following forms of proof of your dog bite case:
- Photos of your injuries
- Time, date, and location of the incident
- Video of the animal attack, if available
- Dog owner information
- Dog license information
- Photos of the dog
- Proof of rabies vaccination (from the owner)
- History of prior bites, if applicable
Filing a personal injury claim could help you recover compensation from the dog owner’s insurance company. But if the owner does not have insurance, they could pay for your damages out-of-pocket.
Aside from the animal owner, you could also file a case against the property owner if you were injured on someone else’s property (that you were legally allowed to be at the time of the incident). The property owner could be liable for your injuries under premises liability law.
After filing a personal injury claim, the owner’s insurance may offer you a settlement. However, receiving a fair value is rare, especially for big insurance companies. Hence, having a personal injury lawyer to help you negotiate can be invaluable.
Filing a Dog Bite Lawsuit
Unfortunately, not all dog bite cases settle out of court. If settlement negotiations with the insurance company are unsuccessful, your personal injury lawyer could help you file a lawsuit in civil court.
Our dog bite lawyers handle personal injury cases through multiple dispute resolution methods, including litigation. If your case goes to court, a judge or jury will hear evidence from both sides and determine a verdict, with your lawyer serving as your legal representation.
How to Avoid Dog Bites
Dogs rarely bite without reason. Remember the following precautions when near any familiar or unfamiliar dog:
- Do not approach a strange dog, even if it seems friendly
- Back away from an animal that is showing warning behaviors, e.g., growling, showing teeth
- Keep small children away from unknown dogs
- Do not leave children unsupervised with pets
- Do not allow children to handle a pet roughly or take its resources (e.g., toys, food)
- Leave a dog alone when it is eating, drinking, or meeting other dogs
- When an animal is in pain, call professional help
- Call animal control when you see an unfamiliar dog showing aggressive behavior on the street
- Do not startle a dog awake or touch it while it is sleeping
- When an unknown animal approaches you, do not run away; back away slowly while facing it
- Don’t try to break up a dog fight with your bare hands; use an extended object or spray water to separate them
- Do not violate a dog’s “territory”
- Do not pet unknown puppies; the mother could be nearby and bite to protect its young
- Alert the owner if their pet has escaped the yard
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer Today
Dog bites can cause severe injuries and sometimes even be life-threatening. More than that, the injured party can miss out on work, suffer mental trauma, have permanent scarring, and incur other losses from their dog bite injuries.
Did you or a loved one suffer serious injuries from a dog bite? If so, the dog bite injury lawyers at Injury Lawyer Team will defend your legal rights and help you recover financial compensation from responsible parties. Our dog bite attorneys serve clients in different states where the dog bite liability laws vary, handling dog bite claims of all types.
Call our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.