Dog Bites and Attacks, Lawsuits and Lawyers
According to statistics from groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a majority of households in the United States have at least one dog. The reasons for why these households have a canine companion vary: Some enjoy the company of their four-legged friend, while other households may obtain and keep a dog for protective purposes. Still others may choose to bring a dog into their home as an assistance animal. Regardless of the dog’s age, size, breed, or purpose for which it was brought into a home, however, all dogs share one important characteristic in common: any dog is capable of biting and/or attacking a human.
Dog Bites and Attacks: Myths vs. Facts
An unfamiliar dog – most likely a pit bull or other “scary” dog breed – baring its teeth and frothing at the mouth is a staple of most individuals’ conception of what a dog bite or dog attack incident looks like. As a result, some individuals may believe they can avoid a dog bite or dog attack by simply avoiding contact with pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and other “vicious” dog breeds. Unfortunately, while there is some truth in these fears the facts and statistics surrounding dog bites paints a significantly different picture:
- Any dog can bite: While pit bulls and Rottweilers do tend to be responsible for a significant number of dog bites and attacks, any breed – including small Chihuahuas or “family friendly” Golden Retrievers – is capable of attacking or biting a person.
- A dog will not bite someone with whom the dog is familiar: A surprisingly large number of dog bites and dog attacks involve dogs that are familiar or acquainted with the victim (such as would be the case if you were bit by the dog of a friend or family member). In fact, according to Canine Journal, three out of every four dog bite or dog attack incidents occur on the victim’s own property, and the vast majority of these events involve a dog that knows the victim.
- Dogs do not bite unless they are angry or have rabies: Dogs may bite or attack for a variety of reasons, with stress and play being the two most common. If a dog is feeling stressed because it is ill, hungry, or afraid, it may respond by biting or attacking the nearest individual. In a similar way, a dog may respond with “play bites” if it feels as if its owner(s) is trying to play with it. These “play bites” can be just as painful and harmful as a bite inflicted as the result of stress.
- If a dog is not rabid, I do not need medical attention: Rabies is a serious, potentially fatal disease that can be transmitted through the bite of a rabid dog. However, even the bite of a non-rabid animal can transmit diseases and bacteria that can require medical intervention. Bites can leave deep puncture wounds that are perfect breeding grounds for infections.
- A dog will not bite a child because a child poses no threat to the dog: This is perhaps the most dangerous myth of all as many children suffer serious, disfiguring injuries – o even fatal injuries – each year as the result of dog bites. Children’s exuberance and excitability can startle a dog and lead to a bite or attack.
Aside from lacerations and cuts – some of which may be disfiguring or leave permanent scars – dog bites and attacks can cause:
- Bruising or internal bleeding;
- Broken bones;
- Deep puncture wounds;
- Infections or the transmission of disease; and/or
- Loss of limbs, fingers, and/or toes.
The Owner of the Dog May be Liable for Your Injuries
Each state has laws that impose liability on the owner of a dog for the injuries that dog causes. Some states are “strict liability” states wherein the law requires dog owners to compensate those whom the dog bites or attacks regardless of whether the owner knew the dog had a propensity to bite or attack humans. In other states, the dog bite liability laws give dogs “one free bite” in that a dog’s owner will only be held responsible for the injuries his or her dog causes to others if the owner knew or should have known the dog had violent or aggressive tendencies and the owner failed to take reasonable measures to contain or restrain the dog.
If an unfamiliar dog has attacked or bitten you and the dog bite or scratch is more than merely superficial, obtain emergency medical attention right away. Then contact Stern Law, PLLC to protect your legal rights and pursue compensation against the dog’s owners. Medical treatment and pain and suffering associated with dog bites can be substantial, and your state’s laws are designed to help ensure you do not have to bear the cost of your injuries yourself. Call Stern Law, PLLC at (844) 808-7529 and learn how attorney Ken Sterns can assist you or your injured loved one in obtaining monetary damages following a dog bite or dog attack.