A dog bite may seem harmless on the surface. However, these injuries can lead to serious infections, costly medical treatment, and emotional trauma. One in five Americans is bitten by a dog each year. When a victim becomes injured by an aggressive animal, its owner may be liable for damages that result from the accident. Some pets are more aggressive than others, but even the most docile of animals can cause harm if they feel threatened or provoked.
A dog’s teeth will compress a human’s flesh and tear the skin, resulting in bruising and often severe lacerations. The bacteria present in a dog’s mouth can lead to serious infections in bite victims. Infections are the number one concern in dog bite victims, and some immunocompromised patients are at higher risk of sustaining an infection.
In addition to damage from a dog bite, a person can also sustain injuries from deep scratches when an aggressive animal jumps onto him or her. In more severe attacks, a dog may bite more than once or maul a victim. Permanent disfigurement can result from more aggressive attacks. This is an especially dangerous concern for child victims. In the most severe attacks, a victim may die from infections or injuries from a canine mauling.
While the physical consequences of a dog attack are visible and clear, there are other effects a victim may face following an incident. Psychological trauma, especially in children, may result from a mauling or attack.
Following a dog bite or canine attack, victims should take careful steps to improve the efficacy of a claim and prevent more severe injury side effects. If possible, a victim should report the attack to the owner of the animal. Documentation is important and can include photographic evidence and a well-maintained record of treatment. As infection is a primary concern, a victim should clean his or her wounds and seek medical treatment within 8 hours of the incident. Keeping a wound clean during the healing process is crucial. A victim should file a police report to ensure that the dog is properly handled and the owner is held accountable. Finally, if a bite has resulted in psychological trauma, disfigurement, costly treatment, and lost work time, a victim should file a personal injury claim.
When a personal injury lawyer determines damages in a dog bite injury case, a variety of factors are considered. The cost of medical treatment, including medical equipment, emergency room costs, follow-up visits, medications, and psychological treatment are costs typically recoverable in a claim. Compensation for time lost from work and pain and suffering may also be recovered.