Dog Bite Injury Cases

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites annually in the United States. Approximately 800,000 of these bites require medical attention. There are about 40 dog bite fatalities a year in the US.

Being bitten by a dog can result in severe and traumatic injuries. A dog bite lawyer can assist in receiving compensation for damages caused by the injury. Here are some reasons to hire a dog bite lawyer, what to look for in a lawyer, steps to take after a dog bite, and types of damages that can be recovered.


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Why Hire a Dog Bite Lawyer?

Dog bite lawyers have the necessary experience and knowledge to handle cases involving dog bites. They are familiar with laws and regulations surrounding dog bites and can provide legal advice and representation. They can help recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

But often, the focus is on finding all the available insurance coverage. If the dog’s owner has homeowner’s insurance, you may be able to file a claim against the owner’s insurance policy to recover compensation for your injuries. The key is finding all of the available coverage. However, insurance companies may try to deny or minimize your claim and argue that the victim was partly or wholly responsible for the attack.

What Our Dog Bite Lawyers Can Do for You

Our dog bite attorneys will perform the following tasks when you seek our help in maximizing the settlement amount or jury payout for your claim:

  • Conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident to establish the facts surrounding your case.
  • Interview witnesses to obtain first-hand accounts of the incident and gather evidence that supports your claim.
  • Scrutinize the medical records and consult with medical experts to evaluate the extent of your injuries, including any long-term effects or disability.
  • Assess the potential long-term effects of your injuries on your future earning capacity and quality of life.
  • Determine the liability of all responsible parties, including dog owners, property owners, and any other third parties involved in the incident.
  • Work with relevant government agencies, such as animal control, to gather additional information about the dog and its history of aggression.
  • Develop a comprehensive legal strategy tailored to your specific needs and goals.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies and defense counsel to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and other damages.
  • If necessary, pursue your case in court and advocate aggressively on your behalf.

Why Dog Bites Happen

Dog bites can happen due to an owner’s negligence in several ways. Here are some common examples:

  • Failure to properly train or socialize the dog: Dogs that have not been adequately trained or socialized may be more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior towards people or other animals. Owners are responsible for ensuring their dogs receive adequate training and socialization to help prevent aggressive behavior.
  • Failure to properly secure the dog: Dogs not adequately secured or contained may be more likely to escape and bite people or other animals. This obligation can vary with the risk associated with the dog.   Owners are responsible for ensuring that their dogs are properly restrained or contained, such as using leashes, fences, or kennels.
  • Allowing the dog to roam freely: Allowing a dog to roam freely can increase the risk of dog bites, as the dog may encounter unfamiliar people or animals and become aggressive. Owners are responsible for controlling their dogs and preventing them from roaming freely.
  • Failure to recognize signs of aggression: Owners are responsible for being aware of their dog’s behavior and recognizing signs of aggression, such as growling or baring teeth. If a dog is exhibiting signs of aggression, the owner should take steps to prevent the dog from biting, such as removing the dog from the situation or using a leash or muzzle.
  • Failure to seek veterinary care: Dogs in pain or with health issues may be more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. Owners are responsible for seeking veterinary care for their dogs when necessary to help prevent aggressive behavior.
  • When owners are negligent in these or other ways, they may be held responsible for dog bites that occur as a result. Victims of dog bites may be able to pursue legal action against the owner to recover compensation for their injuries, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

After being bitten by a dog, the following steps should be taken: seek medical attention immediately, report the incident to the police or animal control, collect information about the dog and owner, take photos of the injuries and the location of the incident, and contact a dog bite lawyer for legal assistance.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries from Infection and Bacteria

Dog bites can cause severe injury, and the pictures are often worth a thousand words in these claims. So we all understand that dog bites can also cause physical injuries such as lacerations, puncture wounds, and fractures. But some infections and diseases are caused by the bites.

  • Rabies: A virus that affects the brain and is commonly spread through the bite and saliva of an infected animal. Rabies is a severe disease that can be fatal if left untreated.
  • Capnocytophaga bacteria: Capnocytophaga bacteria can be transmitted to humans through animal bites, particularly dog bites. When a dog bites a person, the bacteria in the dog’s mouth can be introduced into the person’s body, leading to an infection. Victims can get a fever, chills, sweats, muscle and joint pain, headache, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases – albeit rare – the infection can progress to sepsis, meningitis, or gangrene, which can be life-threatening.
  • Cellulitis is a type of bacterial skin infection that dog bites can cause. When a dog bites a person, bacteria from the dog’s mouth can be introduced into the wound, leading to an infection. Symptoms of cellulitis from a dog bite can include redness, swelling, warmth around the bite, and fever and chills. The infection can spread to other body parts in severe cases, leading to complications such as sepsis or abscess formation.
  • Pasteurella: This bacteria is commonly spread through a dog bite wound. It can cause infections such as cellulitis, osteomyelitis, and septicemia.
  • MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus): Staph infections that are difficult to treat with antibiotics. MRSA infections can be severe and can lead to sepsis or even death.
  • Tetanus: Getting a tetanus shot is more challenging than people realize. Tetanus is a toxin produced by a type of bacteria called Clostridium tetani. This toxin causes rigid paralysis in people and can be a problem in deep bite wounds.

Types of Damages You Can Recover

If bitten by a dog, it may be possible to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Medical bills include hospital bills, doctor visits, and medication. Lost wages refer to time missed from work due to the injury. Pain and suffering compensation is awarded for physical and emotional trauma caused by the incident.

Insurance Coverage for Dog Bite Injuries

One of the primary reasons that dog bite injury cases have a high average settlement value is because home owner’s insurance is usually available to cover dog bite liabilities. Injuries caused by a dog attack are generally covered under the liability or medical payments section of the dog owner’s home insurance policy. Homeowner’s insurance will cover dog bite liabilities even when the dog bite happens at the owner’s home. If the dog owner has a homeowner’s insurance policy, it will provide coverage no matter where the dog attacks.

Average Dog Bite Settlement

Accurate statistics on the true average settlement payout or jury verdict in dog bite injury cases are challenging to provide simply because so many settlements remain confidential. We can, however, get a limited picture of the range of settlements and verdicts in these cases by looking at the Westlaw Jury Verdicts & Settlements database. A search of that database revealed 2,242 reported entries for dog bite cases. The chart below shows a breakdown of the amount of money awarded in those cases:


Dog Bite Settlements and Verdicts

Below are summaries of recent jury verdicts and reported settlements in actual dog bite injury cases. Although this is just a limited and somewhat random sampling of dog bite awards, they help to provide a general picture of the amount of money that can be involved in these cases.

$675,000 Settlement (Michigan 2024):  An 8-year-old girl was attacked by two adult Rottweilers. The girl suffered multiple bites on her thigh, arm, and hand, resulting in a torn bicep tendon that required surgery. She also developed PTSD and underwent a year of therapy. Additionally, she has significant scarring and minimal nerve damage, though scar revision surgery is an option.  The defendants did not contest liability. The battle was over how much money the insurance company would pay.  But that is the nature of dog bite claims. Initially, the maximum offer at mediation was $500,000. But the insurance company found more money and raised the offer to  $675,000. The structured settlement is expected to pay out more than $1,000,000 over time.

$125,000 Settlement (Pennsylvania 2023): A 75-year-old man was bit by four dogs while retrieving his newspaper on his property in West Chester; he was attacked by four dogs. The attack resulted in severe lacerations to his right ankle, exposing his Achilles tendon. Each wound required seven sutures, and he had to undergo a series of rabies vaccinations. Following the initial treatment, the man developed an infection and blood clots in his right leg, requiring further hospitalization and antibiotic treatment. Post-discharge, he remained non-weight-bearing and continued to experience occasional stiffness and scarring. He sued Courtney for violations under Pennsylvania dog laws, arguing that she had prior notice of the dogs’ violent behavior due to multiple previous incidents. The parties reached a pretrial settlement, with the insurance company agreeing to pay $125,000 out of a $500,000 policy.

$300,000 Settlement (Missouri 2023): An 82-year-old man was alerted that the neighbor’s Australian Shepherd was damaging his backyard fence. As he approached to inspect the situation, the dog bit his right hand, severing his pinky finger. The man underwent surgery to reattach the finger, but it later became infected, necessitating the partial amputation. One key in this case as in many of these case: graphic photographs of the injury. The homeowner’s insurer – American Family – agreed to pay the policy limits to settle the claim.

$113,940 Settlement (Florida 2023): The plaintiff was on the defendant’s property petting their pit bull when it suddenly attacked her, causing injuries to her mouth and lips. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants knew the dog had a history of aggression. The verdict included $14,000 for medical expenses, and the rest was for pain and suffering.

$75,000 Settlement (New York 2023): A 4-year-old was playing in the living room of an “apartment house” in Rockland County where her mother was renting a room when she was allegedly bitten in the face by the owner’s Siberian Husky dog who was tied to a railing at time. The injuries required the girl to undergo facial surgery. The plaintiff claimed the attack was unprovoked, and the defendant knew it had aggressive tendencies. The case was ultimately settled for $75,000.

$60,000 Settlement (Missouri 2022): a 9-year-old girl reportedly suffered wounds to her face, left arm, and stomach, resulting in scarring and fear of dogs, when she was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant while she was on the defendant’s property. The lawsuit asserted that the defendant was strictly liable for the attack under Missouri dog bite law. The case was settled.

$350,760 Settlement (Washington 2022): The plaintiff, a 47-year-old female delivery driver, was delivering a package to the defendant’s house when two dogs attacked her. The two dogs did not bite her, but they lunged at her, knocking her backward off the steps and causing her to fall and strike the back of her head. She eventually required 13 stitches and claimed headaches and PTSD.

$140,000 Settlement (New York 2022): A 2-year house guest was bitten on her face by the defendant’s pit bull. She suffered multiple bites to her face, resulting in scarring under her right eye, on her right cheek, and chin. The defendant’s homeowner’s insurance company, State Farm, agreed to settle the claim for $140,000.

$56,798 Settlement (Nevada 2021): A 6-year-old boy was bitten by the defendant’s dog. The plaintiff claimed lacerations to his left cheek, upper lip, and right jawline due to the dog bite incident and declared $12,107 in medical bills. The insurance company settled the claim.

$220,000 Verdict (Washington 2021): The plaintiff, a 32-year-old network engineer, was attacked and bitten 5-time by his neighbor’s German Shepard dog after the dog escaped from the neighbor’s yard. The plaintiff suffered a severe nerve injury to his left hand, requiring future surgery. He also suffered injuries to his legs and torso. The defendant’s insurance company, Travelers Ins., offer to settle the case for $90,000. That offer was rejected, and a jury awarded $220k.

Contact Our Dog Bite Lawyers

Our firm handles dog bite cases involving severe injuries across the country. If you have been injured in a dog bite incident, call our personal injury lawyers at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.


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