According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites in the United States each year. Approximately 800,000 of these bites require medical attention. In 2020, 39 dog bite fatalities were reported in the US.
Being bitten by a dog can result in serious and traumatic injuries. A dog bite lawyer can provide assistance 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.
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 owner of the dog 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 may 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 that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.
- Engage in negotiations with insurance companies and defense counsel to ensure that you receive fair and just 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 as a result of an owner’s negligence in a number of ways. Here are some common examples:
- Failure to properly train or socialize the dog: Dogs that have not been properly trained or socialized may be more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior towards people or other animals. Owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dogs receive adequate training and socialization to help prevent aggressive behavior.
- Failure to properly secure the dog: Dogs that are not properly secured or contained may be more likely to escape and bite people or other animals. Owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dogs are properly restrained or contained, such as through the use of 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 have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control and to prevent them from roaming freely.
- Failure to recognize signs of aggression: Owners have a responsibility to be aware of their dog’s behavior and to recognize 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 by removing the dog from the situation or using a leash or muzzle.
- Failure to seek veterinary care: Dogs that are in pain or have health issues may be more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior. Owners have a responsibility to seek 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 there are also infections and diseases that 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 serious 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 can be caused by dog bites. 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, and warmth around the bite, as well as fever and chills. In severe cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, leading to complications such as sepsis or abscess formation.
- Pasteurella: This is a bacteria that 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 very serious and can lead to sepsis or even death.
- Tetanus: Getting a tetanus shot is tougher 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 does happen at the dog 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 is very difficult 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.
$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 that the attack was unprovoked and the defendant was aware that it had aggressive tendencies. The case was ultimately settled for $75k.
$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 she was attacked by two dogs. The two dogs did not bite her, but they lunged at her knocking her backwards 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 pitbull. She suffered multiple bites to her face which resulted in scarring under her right eye, on her right cheek, and on her 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 deep 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 $90k. That offer was rejected and a jury awarded $220k.
Contact Our Dog Bite Lawyers
Our firm handles dog bite cases involving serious injuries across the country. If you have been injury in a dog bite incident, call our personal injury lawyers at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.