Of all animal bites, dog bites account for nearly 90%. In the US, approximately 4.5 million dog bite cases occur with severe injuries, out of which more than 27,000 cases need reconstructive surgery. Apart from surgery, these injuries involve infections such as rabies and tetanus.
Although dog bite cases come under the category of personal injury cases, most such disputes are not taken to the court. Instead, the settlement is negotiated between the victim and the insurance company or dog owner.
Dog Bite Attacks are Serious in Nature:
When a dog attacks a person, the victim may sustain initial and direct injuries from the bite but they could develop serious complications later on. Moreover, these bites may be severe enough to damage muscle, bone or nerve. The most dangerous types of bites are the ones when the bones are damaged.
The damaged bones mean frequent trips to the hospital and may take weeks or months to fully heal. The biggest concern with animal bites or attacks is the high chances of disfigurement. This often causes the self-conscious person to cover up the affected area for life when there are scars and destroyed tissues.
Not only are injuries and disfigurements the only concern, but sometimes, dog bites can also lead to the death of the victim. Few injuries incurred on the vital areas can be extremely serious and fatal. In addition to it, infections and rabies can complicate the case.
Understanding the seriousness of these attacks is essential on the part of the owner. A small negligence can lead to grave consequences. The owner of the dog can be held responsible for such damages and accountable for huge compensation amounts for medical bills and loss of income during the period of recovery.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages:
In personal injury and wrongful death cases, when it comes to seeking damages, there are usually two types of damages that are sought:
Compensation refers to the loss of wages during the recovery period, the financial requirement of the treatment and other similar financial burdens. Whereas in punitive damages, the responsible party is punished for the harm caused to the victim. Punitive damages cover additional areas of the damage, as well as the victim, who is awarded more money.
Medical Obligations in Dog Attack:
Medical expenses for treatment, surgery, medication, and therapy are sought after the injuries incurred in a dog attack. These expenses are to be met in the intimal treatment, but some of these are to cover additional care after the original damage is completed. This includes mental and emotional trauma. Another expense that is covered refers to cosmetic or reconstructive repair.
Pain and Sufferings:
The dog attacks involve a great deal of pain. These incidents cause emotional and mental trauma which takes years to recover from, usually through therapy. Physical pain and suffering can continue for a longer period even after medical treatment. In case, the victim is a child, the effect will be lifelong. Although, therapy may help the child to recover to some extent, however, this does not resolve or fully diminish such impacts on the children.
Legal Defense of Dog Owner:
As mentioned above, in the dog bite cases, the owner is held responsible for the pet’s attack. However, this is unfair to hold the owner responsible for the animal attack in every case. Given the circumstances, the owner can fight back the accusation and argue that the victim causes the attacks. The owner can hold that the victim:
- Teased or provoked the dog
- Trespassed or broke the law
- Voluntarily risked the injury
- Contributed to the injury and remained unreasonably negligent or careless
However, these arguments cannot be used in all cases. Some states’ laws don’t allow a few defenses. Moreover, the defenses also depend upon the nature of the lawsuit. The victim, generally, can sue the pet owner on the basis of a few basic rules of such injuries:
- One-Bite Rule: it makes the owner responsible if he or she knew the dog was dangerous.
- Strict- Liability Rule: the owner is responsible despite being unaware of the fact that dog as dangerous.
- If the dog owner was careless or negligent, unreasonably.
When the Dog is Provoked:
If the victim provoked the dog by teasing or hitting, the owner is not held responsible. There may be few actions that are not intentionally provocative. The court can relieve the owner, when the victim unintentionally provokes the dog, such as:
- Stepping on its tail accidentally
- Interrupting in a dog fight
- In self-defense, spraying repellant on dog
When the Victim Knew the Risk of Injury:
When the dog owner proves that despite knowing the risk of injury, the victim took the risk, he or she can avoid the liability. Moreover, if the injured person ignores the danger sign, the owner is not held responsible. People such as veterinarians, groomers, pet sitters, or assistants take risk of dog bites, are subject to this rule.
When the Victim Trespassed:
When the injured person trespassed, the owner is not held responsible for the attack.
- The dog bite laws are not applicable when the victim was at the property unlawfully or trespassed.
- In the one bite rule, it does not matter whether the victim was trespassing. The court does not hold the owner liable to a trespasser.
The Need for Legal Assistance:
The laws on dog bite cases are quite complicated and vary from state to state, under the given situation. The dog-owners must speak to the personal injury lawyer, in case of facing a lawsuit. The dog bite attorney in this regard provides guidance on developing the defense and hence protects the owners’ rights.