If you’ve suffered from a dog bite recently, don’t minimize your pain. Dog bites are responsible for the hospitalization of roughly 10,000 Americans each year, according to the canine education organization Dogs Bite. Most victims of dog bites don’t want to cause a scene and are likely to dismiss the bite as innocuous, but this is not a wise choice. After a dog bite, victims are at severe risk of infection. The worst-case scenario for a dog bite is death.
Dog owners have a legal responsibility to prevent their pets from injuring others or damaging property. Owners are responsible for reimbursing dog bite victims for their medical expenses, time lost from work, and their pain and suffering.
When a Dog Hurts You
In the event that you are injured by a dog, be sure to take note of the owner’s name and phone number, and don’t forget to ask them if they are covered by liability insurance. Ask witnesses for their names and numbers as well so that they can help you back up your claims if the dog owner changes the story. Take pictures of the dog, your immediate visible injuries, and anything in the vicinity that will support your story, such as an open gate that the dog used to run out of the house. Seek medical assistance immediately if the dog bite was severe. Keep records of your doctor and hospital visits as well as copies of your bills. Most importantly, report the incident to animal control authorities. Many cities and states require that the dog be quarantined after it injures someone to find out if it’s rabid. Check records at the animal control department to see if this dog has attacked other people in the past. This will exponentially help you win in court if the case goes that far.
When Dog Owners are Liable
A dog owner will be held liable in a civil lawsuit if the victim can prove that the dog owner acted carelessly. Dog owners are found negligent in instances where they ignored local leash laws, or in cases where they left a door open and their dog ran out and bit someone. There’s also the possibility that a dog statute will apply. Several states have strict liability dog bite laws in place that make the owner financially responsible for dog bites, regardless of the dog’s history; Utah is one of these states. Another instance in which the dog owner can be found negligent in court is if the victim can prove that the owner was aware that their dog is capable of extreme injuries. In states without specific dog-related laws, they have one-bite rules in place that hold the dog owner responsible for injuries.
If you, your child, or a loved one was bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation—even if the physical injuries aren’t severe. The emotional trauma that comes with a dog bite is worthy of a monetary award, especially when it comes to children. Our experienced attorneys at Flickinger, Sutterfield, & Boulton will hold irresponsible dog owners accountable. Schedule your free consultation with us today.