While dogs are often called man’s best friend, there are times when they can be a terrifying enemy. The millions of dog bites that occur in the United States each year can be physically, emotionally, and financially overwhelming. The difficulties of suffering from a dog bite can creep into every facet of daily life. By hiring attorneys that specialize in dog bites, victims can find some peace of mind after their painful experience. Being aware of the specifics of dog bite incidents can help victims be more aware of their rights when pursuing compensation and the laws that are in place to protect them.
The Devastation of Dog Bites
When a dog turns on a human, the results can be devastating. Even small dogs can cause injuries that may never heal. The aftermath of these bites varies greatly and the most serious of dog bites can be fatal.
The scars and surface injuries caused by a dog bite can be life-changing. These scars may make the victim self-conscious and prevent them from living a full and happy life. The stares and questions from strangers who see these dog bite injuries may be too much for some victims to handle. Disfiguration from a dog bite can require multiple plastic surgeries for cosmetic and health reasons. These surgeries may take years to complete, meaning the victim will have a long road to recovery. Anyone who must deal with the horrible devastation of disfiguration from a dog bite deserves compensation for the difficult road that lies ahead.
Serious Physical and Mental Wounds
When dogs bite into vital parts of the body, especially on the body’s soft tissue, life-threatening injuries can occur. Bites to the neck, abdomen, and major arteries can leave victims in the hospital with extremely long recovery times. When a dog bite results in a long hospital stay, rehab, and loss of earnings due to not being able to work, victims should be compensated fairly for their injuries and time lost. The invisible injuries from dog bites can be just as hard to overcome as the physical wounds. Many victims of dog bites suffer from PTSD, depression, and a persistent fear of being attacked again. Victims should receive all the psychological care they deserve without having to worry about the cost.
In the terrible event that a person is killed by a dog, the victim’s family is entitled to fight on their loved one’s behalf and seek compensation. This compensation can cover medical bills, final expenses, and extra compensation for the loss of their loved one. In the case that the victim was the sole or main provider for a family, they should also be awarded compensation for having to deal with such a drastic change in their lifestyle.
Dog Bite Statistics
Every day in the US, nearly 900 people end up in the emergency room because of a dog bite. These dog bites can be very serious, and in some cases deadly. Many of these incidents are unprovoked, and the victim was just an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Each year, professionals spend time studying dog bites and their specifics, so there are many statistics involving dog bites in the US. These surprising statistics show just how common and devastating dog bites can be.
- Approximately 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year
- Nearly 750,000 dog bite victims require some type of medical attention every year
- Being bitten by a dog is the fifth most common reason for a child to visit the emergency room
- Each year, about 35 people are victims of fatal dog attacks
- The total annual insurance claims estimate for dog bites is around $2 billion
- Over 50% of attacks occur at the dog’s home
Utah Dog Laws
In Utah, there are specific rules in place that require dog owners to act responsibly to protect others. When these rules are not followed, the owners can and should be penalized for acting irresponsibly with their dog.
Properly Restraining Dogs
Owners are required to always have restrained control of their animals. When at home, pets should be in a fenced-in area, on a secure lead, or in the house. Pets should never be allowed to roam around, especially if they are not supervised. Most dog bites occur when a dog is unrestrained, so it is important for all owners to adhere to dog restraint laws.
Veterinary Care Laws for Dogs
All dogs in the state of Utah must be up to date on vaccinations and have regular vet care. The most important vaccine for a dog to have in case of a bite is the rabies vaccine. This is because rabies can be transferred from dogs to humans and can be deadly if not treated in time. If a dog bites and the owner cannot provide proof that the dog has current vaccinations, serious legal action can be taken.
Stopping a Dog Attack
If a dog is attacking a person or other animal, the victim has every right to stop the dog from attacking. It is within the victim’s legal rights to use every force necessary, including injuring or killing the dog, to stop the attack. The owners of the aggressing dog have no legal standing to seek action against anyone who hurts or kills their dog in the effort to stop an attack.
What to do After Being Bitten by a Dog
There are some very important actions that should be taken after suffering a dog bite. Though the victim and their family may find themselves in a whirlwind after an attack, these three steps can help victims to build a case and prevent any future legal or personal troubles.
Seek Medical Help
Any bite that is suffered should be looked at by a medical professional. The risk of infection in dog bites is high, so having the wound properly cleaned and looked at is essential. Also, the damage from a dog bite can be much worse than is immediately apparent. Soft tissue damage, damage to an artery, and spinal or head trauma can start off small and become life-threatening very quickly. Another reason to seek medical attention after a bite is to have clear evidence that a bite was suffered. Victims that have been bitten but do not seek medical attention may not have a solid case when seeking compensation for damages.
Document the Bite
Taking pictures of the bite, documenting where the incident occurred, and getting owner and dog information is essential after suffering a dog bite. Calling authorities directly after a dog bite is a good first step. Police will likely question the owner, assess the situation, bring in medical professionals, and write a report about the entire incident. The involvement of a police officer can be very helpful when taking the dog’s owner to court.
Contact an Attorney
Once the victim has been taken care of, the next step is to contact an attorney who can handle a dog bite case. An attorney can help the victim and their family to document the incident and begin building a case. An attorney will ask about injuries and other case details and then inform the victim about how the case will proceed.
Types of Dog Bite Claims
There are two different ways to handle dog bite cases in the court of law. The way the case will be handled varies greatly depending on the individual situation. No matter which of the two types of claims are being pursued, victims will have the best chance of acting against the dog’s owner by having a talented attorney in their corner.
If the victim can prove that the owner intentionally meant for their dog to attack, the victim would have a case for intentional tort. This includes owners “siccing” their dog on someone else or using their dog for the specific purpose of inflicting injury on another. While these cases are rare, they are taken very seriously and should be tried to the fullest extent.
The best route to take is to claim strict liability. This does not require proof that the dog has bitten before or is dangerous. Under strict liability, there are no second chances. The victim of the dog bite is owed compensation from the owners of the dog.
Why a Lawyer is Needed
While some may think that talking directly to the dog owner or their insurance company to resolve the financial burden of a dog bite may be a good idea, they would be wrong. Hiring an attorney to handle a dog bite case is essential for those who want to make sure they are awarded everything they deserve after suffering because of of a dangerous animal.
Receive Proper Compensation
Dog owners and their insurers will likely do everything they can to pay the minimal amount for the injuries caused by their dog. Some insurers may seem generous by offering to pay for medical costs, but the truth is they are attempting to have the victim settle for the lowest amount possible. Once a victim signs anything from an insurer accepting compensation for the dog bite, it may be impossible to recover further damages. Therefore, victims should never talk to the dog owner or their insurance company. Let an attorney handle these conversations to make sure that the victim gets what they are owed.
Make Owners Answer for the Dog’s Actions
Dog owners react in many ways after their dog attacks. Some may be apologetic and shocked by their dog’s actions, others may deny having any responsibility, and some may even leave the scene and avoid any action being taken against them. When owners try to dodge or deny their responsibility for their dog’s actions, they will not be properly penalized. Not requiring owners and dogs to pay for their actions can lead to more people being injured by a dangerous dog. Swenson and Shelley will help make sure that dogs and their owners aren't able to hurt any other innocent people.
Protect the Victim
If the victim retaliated against the dog, owners may try to collect compensation for the victim’s actions. Since it is legal to use deadly force to stop a dog from attacking, victims should have nothing to worry about. However, some dog owners or their lawyers may try to intimidate victims in this way to stop them from seeking compensation. The right lawyer will handle this situation, so the victim never has to feel threatened during the legal process.