Table Of Contents
- Do You Need a Dog Bite Attorney?
- What Should You Do if a Dog Attacks You or a Loved One
- What Are the Injuries Dogs Cause to Dog Bite Victims?
- The Psychological Scars of Dog Bites
- Who Can You Sue if You Are in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
- Remember, Sometimes the Dog Owner Cannot Be Sued
- If a Dog Bites You, You Need a Dog Bite Attorney to Help You
Do You Need a Dog Bite Attorney?
Whether you love or hate dogs, if one attacks you, it can be a terrifying experience. If the animal bites you, you may deal with a significant injury. Depending on how serious your injury is, you may need a dog bite attorney to get the compensation you deserve.
Dog attacks can leave victims with painful injuries, like bite wounds, infections, broken bones, lacerations, and permanent disfigurement. They can be especially serious if the victim is a child (they often are).
What Should You Do if a Dog Attacks You or a Loved One
Of course, you should first seek medical care. If the dog’s teeth punctured your skin, you risk infection. This can lead to tetanus, sepsis, and rabies.
In fact, infection occurs in 10 to 15% of dog bites. Therefore, it’s critical to get the proper treatment.
Keep all medical records, bills, and other documentation associated with the attack. This will help determine the compensation you can receive.
If possible, take a picture of the dog and the scene of the attack. Of course, you should also take pictures of your dog bite injuries.
In addition, save any torn or bloody clothing as evidence. They will back up your account of the attack. Take the contact information of any witnesses for our attorneys to follow up with later.
It is important to identify the dog owner. Dog owners have a responsibility to contain and control their dogs. Whether you’re friendly with the owner or have never met them, get the name and address of the owner. You may also want to get the health records, including a history of vaccinations, for the dog.
However, you do not want to discuss the details of the dog attack with the owner. You may say something inadvertently that could hurt your dog bite claim.
Whether you have minor injuries or were severely hurt, the owner of the dog will almost certainly be liable for the attack. However, since laws vary from state to state, contact an experienced dog bite personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights.
What Are the Injuries Dogs Cause to Dog Bite Victims?
There are several serious injuries the dog’s cause to people.
Dog bite injuries can mean deep puncture wounds and the ripping and tearing of flesh. Plastic surgery is often required to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the scarring that can result from an animal attack.
There could be the need for immediate surgery and follow-up surgeries to eliminate the scarring.
Dogs with a powerful bite, like a pit bull, have broken fingers and wrists during a dog attack. Victims frequently needed surgery to set the broken bones.
Rabies is a life-threatening condition. It should always be a concern anytime any animal punctures a person’s skin. If the dog cannot be found, or you cannot reach the owners, it is impossible to know if the animal has had its rabies vaccine.
The survivors of a person who gets rabies from a dog bite and dies may have a wrongful death claim.
Therefore, an immediate visit to a local ER is always recommended. Approximately 18,000 people are treated for exposure to rabies each year.
Infection occurs in 15 to 20 percent of dog bite victims. Consequently, if a dog bites you, get to a doctor as quickly as possible to get immediate medical attention.
The Psychological Scars of Dog Bites
Of course, the immediate concern with any dog bite is the treatment of visible wounds. However, many dog bite victims suffer psychological problems after a dog attack. These symptoms can last for months or years after the dog’s attack. These psychological issues can cause anxiety and sleeplessness.
Victims, especially child victims, are often left with an inflated sense of fear when around animals.
This type of psychological trauma can be long-lasting. Indeed, it will require repeated sessions with trained counselors to ease the victim’s irrational fears.
Who Can You Sue if You Are in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
Of course, if a dog bites you, and you know the owner or you find out who the owner is, you can sue the owner.
But what if the dog was with the owner’s daughter when the dog bit you? What if the owner went on a trip and left the dog with a dog sitter?
The answer is you can also sue a person who is the keeper or harborer of the dog.
In the examples above, if the daughter or dog sitter did not properly control the dog, you could have a dog bite case against them.
As another example, a landlord of an apartment may know there was a dangerous dog on his premises. He didn’t have the dog removed. If the dog bites someone, the victim can sue the landlord for her personal injuries from the dog bite.
Typically, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies offer coverage for dog bite legal expenses up to the policy’s limits, just as they do for car accidents, slip and falls, etc.
Notwithstanding the above, some insurance companies will not provide coverage for specific breeds that have a known tendency to bite, such as pit bulls.
However, other insurance companies may decide to insure on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, they look at whether the dog has been deemed vicious regardless of the breed.
If the dog bites someone, the insurance company may increase the owner’s premiums, exclude the dog from coverage, or drop the policy altogether.
Remember, Sometimes the Dog Owner Cannot Be Sued
While it is generally true dog owners are responsible if their dog bites someone, there are exceptions:
If a person has a right to be on the property where a dog bite occurs, dog bite laws permit the person to sue the owner.
But what if the dog bite victim is a trespasser?
Well… it depends. In many states, the answer is no, the trespasser cannot sue.
However, what if the owner knew the dog was dangerous and he let the dog roam the property?
In that instance, a judge might say that the dog owner should have put the dog in a fenced area on the property. Or the owner could have chained the dog to a post so it could not freely roam the property.
In addition, if the trespasser was a child, the dog owner may have some responsibility for any injuries to the child.
Another common defense is that a dog owner is not liable because the injured person provoked the dog. For example, the victim could make a quick, unexpected gesture which scared the dog.
Comparative Negligence or Assumption of Risk
Sometimes, the dog’s owner may argue that you are at least partially responsible for your own injuries. For example, the owner warned you to not approach the dog, but you did so anyway.
Lastly, Indiana is not a “one bite” state. In a one-bite state, the dog owner isn’t liable for a dog bite if the dog never exhibited aggression or attacked anyone before.
Rather, in Indiana, a dog owner always controls their dog. The owner must prevent the dog from attacking people unless they provoke the dog.
If a Dog Bites You, You Need a Dog Bite Attorney to Help You
If a dog has bitten you or a loved one, you need experienced dog bite injury lawyers. We will investigate the dog bite incident and determine who was at fault for your injuries.
Then we will negotiate a settlement with the dog owner’s insurance company that fully compensates you.
And, by the way, we negotiate with insurance companies almost every day.
However, if the insurance company is not willing to settle your dog bite case at a reasonable amount, we will prepare the case for trial.
Of course, the case can still settle. But, as every experienced lawyer knows, sometimes the at-fault party’s insurance companies don’t make the best settlement offers unless their backs are against the wall.
Lastly, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your medical bills and pain and suffering. Contact our law firm at our Hammond office at 219-200-2000 or online at alexmendozalaw.com for a free consultation.