Dog Bite Fatalities, Lawyers and Lawsuits
It can be hard to imagine that a cute canine or the dedicated family dog can cause injury – let alone death – to you or another member of your family. After all, people bring dogs into their homes to protect them from outside threats like burglars and wild animals – not to have the dog turn around and attack themselves. Yet each year dozens of individuals die each year as a result of dog bites. The website DogsBite.org maintains a list of individuals killed each year in dog attacks, including:
- Susan Shawl, 60 years old, who was killed by her son’s two pit bulls;
- Two-year-old Piper Dunbar who was found dead in her front yard, a victim of an apparent dog attack;
- Adonis Reddick, a 45-year-old advocate for individuals with disabilities, who suffered fatal injuries inflicted by his own pit bull.
There is no question: Being fatally bitten or attacked by a dog is a terrible, horrific way to die. The pain and suffering that the victim endures before dying is indescribable. Not only this, but family members and/or friends who witness the incident are often left with emotional scarring and mental trauma from witnessing their loved one suffer and die in such a brutal manner.
What Causes Fatal Dog Attacks and Bites?
In many fatal dog bite cases it is difficult to determine why the attack occurred. A dog may attack humans – even its family and/or owner – if the dog is feeling stressed, threatened, or otherwise agitated. This does not explain all fatal dog bite incidents, however. In examining the details of recent fatal dog bites, some common characteristics emerge:
- A significant number of fatal dog bites and dog attaches involve so-called “vicious breeds” like pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other similar dogs (either full-breed or mixed-breed). A dog breed may be considered “vicious” because the breed was historically bred for fighting or attacking other animals and/or humans;
- Several of the fatal dog bite incidents reported involved two or more dogs attacking at the same time. When a pack of dogs attacks a person, it becomes much more difficult for the victim to defend him- or herself and much more dangerous for bystanders and witnesses to intervene and save the victim’s life;
- Children and newborns along with the elderly are especially at risk for suffering fatal dog bite injuries. These individuals most often require assistance in caring for themselves and typically lack the physical strength and/or mental clarity to respond quickly and decisively in the event of a dog attack;
- The head and throat are especially vulnerable areas – most fatal dog bite injuries are localized in one or both of these areas.
Fatal dog attacks do not always involve dogs with a history of aggression toward humans. Even dogs who are known for being friendly or “good with people” can attack without warning. While this should not dissuade someone from bringing a dog into his or her home, this should remind dog owners to be vigilant about their dogs and take steps to protect those most vulnerable to a fatal dog attack.
Liability After a Fatal Dog Attack
The surviving family members of a deceased dog bite victim as well as bystanders who were injured while trying to intervene or who simply observed the incident will face significant challenges in moving forward. For the surviving family members, the deceased’s final expenses and medical bills will need to be paid. There are additional losses, too, including lost income and wages, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering. Those who witnessed the dog attack may suffer from emotional distress and be unable to return to their normal lives without the assistance of a counselor or mental health professional.
The owner or keeper of a dog who attacks and kills another may be held responsible for the losses experienced by the surviving family members, the decedent, and/or bystanders and witnesses. The statutes of the state in which the fatal attack occurred will determine whether a dog owner is held “strictly liable” (in which case the dog owner is responsible regardless of whether the owner acted carelessly in keeping the dog and regardless of whether the dog attacked another person prior to the fatal attack) or is only responsible of he or she was negligent (which will require the surviving family members or other plaintiffs to show the owner had reason to know of the dog’s vicious or aggressive tendencies and the owner failed to take reasonable measures to protect others from the dog).
Stern Law, PLLC is Your Dog Bite Fatality Law Firm
If your loved one has been killed by a vicious dog, you need aggressive and knowledgeable legal counsel to help you obtain compensation for your losses as well as the decedent’s losses. Stern Law, PLLC can help you do just that. Our firm is compassionate yet determined: we will guide you through the recovery process and devote our energy and resources to helping you hold the vicious dog’s owner responsible for the harm his or her animal caused. Call Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 and let us help you move forward from this tragedy.