Can You Sue For A Dog Bite?

Can You Sue For A Dog Bite?

Dog bites can cause serious injuries. If you or a loved one experienced a dog bite, you may be able to sue the dog’s owner for your injuries. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and plan a course of action.

Common Dog Bite Injuries

Bites can cause several different types of injuries, including:

  • Broken bones: Dogs have incredibly strong jaws capable of breaking and crushing bones, which is why this is one of the more common injuries associated with dog bites.
  • Infections: Bacteria from a dog’s mouth or the surrounding environment can enter bite wounds, leading to deep infections.
  • Lacerations: Cuts, scrapes, and torn skin are all common results of dog bites. These can quickly become infected, leading to additional tissue loss and complications. 
  • Loss of limbs: If an injury is severe enough, amputation of a limb may be necessary. 
  • Loss of vision: Bites that affect certain parts of the body, such as the face and eyes, can damage the eyes and cause a loss of vision.
  • Punctures: Sharp, long canine teeth cause deep puncture wounds that require immediate medical attention.
  • Scarring: Skin damage from a dog attack can leave severe, permanent scarring and disfigurement that may contribute to the emotional trauma of the attack.
  • Soft tissue damage: Dogs can tear through tendons, muscles and ligaments, affecting your use of limbs and joints. Some of these injuries can cause permanent loss of use. 

Generally, larger dogs or attacks by multiple animals result in more serious physical injuries. They can even cause death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 81 deaths from dog bites in 2021, nearly double the number from four years earlier. This is an alarming trend that could indicate trends such as new ownership patterns and a lack of enforcement of animal-related laws.

Seek medical care immediately after a dog bite occurs. This can help reduce the risk of infection. it also establishes a direct link between the attack and the injuries.

Types of Damages

When you sue a dog owner after being bitten, you can seek several different types of damage. Some are more common than others, but each case is unique. You should discuss your injuries and their effects with an attorney to determine what damages to seek in a legal claim.

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses for injuries are among the most common damages sought after a dog bite. These are usually emergency room visits, doctor fees, hospital stays, surgery and physical therapy costs. They may also include ongoing care costs, such as in-home care and personal assistance.

In some cases, such as when an injury results in an amputation or permanent disability, you can seek compensation for necessary home modifications.

Non-Physical Damages

Not all injuries manifest physically and dog bites can cause other, non-physical injuries.. You may experience emotional, social and financial effects after a dog bite. These can affect your life as significantly as the bite wounds themselves. Some examples of non-physical injuries include:

  • Pain and suffering: Do not underestimate the emotional trauma of a dog bite. You may choose to seek damages for pain and suffering after the trauma of an attack. 
  • Lost wages: Missing work to recover from injuries can cause significant financial strain. 
  • Loss of enjoyment: Some injuries prevent you from enjoying activities you enjoy or the companionship of a loved one. 

It is important to remember that you may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, disfigurement, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related damages.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are rarely awarded in dog bite cases. However, they are possible if you can prove gross negligence on the part of the animal’s owner. This may include prior knowledge of a history of biting or failure to adhere to required restrictions on an aggressive dog, such as muzzling or confinement.

If you feel that a dog owner’s negligence led to a bite, one of our attorneys can discuss the possibility of seeking damages from them. Evidence of prior behavior or judgments against the owner is helpful in these cases.

Liability in Dog Bite Cases

In most situations, the liability for a dog bite falls to the animal’s owner. Owners have an obligation to properly restrain or control their dogs. This applies regardless of the animal’s temperament.

You do not have to show negligence or even a prior history of aggression to prove liability in a dog bite case. However, you do need to establish ownership of the dog in question and that it caused your injuries. Gathering evidence, including medical records, witness statements and photographs of your injuries helps establish this.

The sooner you act after a dog bite, the easier it is to prove liability. When possible, talk to witnesses of the attack, get their contact information and ask if they have any videos of it. Take photos of any injuries as soon as possible.

Dog Bite Laws

States have laws that govern liability for dog bites. For example, in New York, a dog owner is usually liable for any injuries his dog causes. This typically applies regardless of whether there is a known history of aggression or biting.

Understanding New York Dog Bite Laws

New York dog bite laws place liability for any injuries caused by a dog on the animal’s owner. This applies regardless of the dog’s previous behavior or whether or not the owner had reason to believe the dog was dangerous.

Liability for property damage follows a “one bite rule” which places liability on an owner if they have any prior knowledge about a dog’s propensity to bite. You should note that the dog does not have to have a history of actually biting to put liability onto an owner.

Benefits of Hiring an Injury Attorney After a Dog Bite Incident

If you are considering legal action, you can benefit from hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. They work with you to uncover the facts of your case, explain your rights, discuss your options and discuss your options. They can also help establish a dollar amount for compensation that is sufficient to cover all of your injuries.

Incident Investigation

In the aftermath of a dog attack, you may not think about speaking to witnesses or gathering physical documentation of your injuries. However, these are crucial to establishing what occurred. Injury attorneys will work to procure evidence of the bite incident to establish liability.

Knowledgeable Guidance

An experienced injury attorney has the knowledge necessary to navigate the local court system. They can advise you about important steps and deadlines, such as filing your case within the statute of limitations.

Professional Negotiation

Attorneys are skilled negotiators who can often reach a settlement with insurance companies without the need to take a case to trial. Our attorneys work tirelessly to represent your best interests when negotiating with other attorneys and insurance companies.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Dog bites are serious incidents that can cause severe physical and emotional injuries. They can also take a financial toll from medical costs and lost wages. Our attorneys at Cellino Law have the knowledge and experience to represent you after a dog bite. Contact one of our convenient offices to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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