Across the United States, they are in an estimated 50 million households. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates that there is one dog for every four people in our country. As much as we appreciate their companionship, it’s important not to lose sight that dogs are animals and can be unpredictable. They don’t reason like humans and they can bite. Sometimes, those bites can do great damage.
You may be wondering what recourse you have if a dog bites you. If you receive serious injuries from a dog bite, you may be due just compensation for your injuries. But how do you know if your injury is serious enough to make a claim or file a lawsuit? And when should you hire a lawyer for dog bites? In this article, the personal injury attorneys at De Castroverde Law will help you understand how to make that decision, protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve.
Background on Dog Bites
Sadly, dog bites are not uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 4.5 million people become dog bite victims each year. Of that amount, about 20% require treatment at some level, according to the AVMA.
Unsurprisingly, the AVMA says that children are the most frequent victims — a factor that makes the decision on when to hire a lawyer even more important. Because children can find themselves at eye level with dogs, they often end up with the worst injuries.
It’s important to remember as you evaluate whether you need a lawyer that dogs bite for many reasons — but not because of the particular breed they are. They bite, the AVMA says, based on their “individual history and behavior.” And that’s where the owner’s responsibility, and the possibility of making a legal claim, can come into play.
How To Respond to Dog Bites
You first have to think about safety — for yourself, and others in the area. Get away from the dog and help others to do the same.
Once you are safe, then you should evaluate your injuries. Dog bites can be mild or severe, and you can probably tell the difference right away. A very severe bite will include profuse bleeding and may even require attention from paramedics. It may be useful to be cautious and seek emergency care if you’re unsure of the severity of the bite.
Once the situation is stable, try to gather more information from your environment, witnesses, and the pet owner. When it’s safe to do so, get the owner’s name and contact information and ask for documents about the dog’s vaccination status. This is important in case the wound gets infected. If there were witnesses, try to get their names and phone numbers, as their accounts may be important if you file a claim.
Take pictures of the scene and make a rough diagram. The more you can document now, the clearer the claim status may be. Take pictures of the bite from different angles, as that may also have a bearing on your claim.
Even if you believe the bite to be minor, get evaluated by your doctor. Sometimes dog bites can lead to later infection; it’s better to get a full evaluation. The one exception is if the bite does not break the skin. It’s especially important to get an exam if you do not have information about the dog’s vaccinations. Documenting your injuries will help if you end up pursuing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Click for additional tips on what to do if you’re bitten by a dog.
When To Hire a Lawyer for a Dog Bite
Dog bites can cause more than wounds from the bite. They can also result in fractures, nerve damage, scarring, infection, and emotional difficulties. The extent of some of these consequences can take some time to appear. So the best time to hire a lawyer for a dog bite is almost as soon as you’re emotionally able to do so.
Dog bites can potentially translate into personal injury claims or lawsuits. Under Nevada law, you have two years from the date of the incident where you were injured to file the personal injury lawsuit. While that sounds like a long time, there is a lot to do to prepare. Engaging with a lawyer when you are able makes the most sense, as the lawyer can keep the process moving.
Your attorney will work with you to evaluate the facts and circumstances and explain the law. To succeed in a personal injury claim, you will probably have to show that the dog’s owner was reckless or negligent in how they cared for the dog. Your attorney can help explain what those terms mean and what evidence you need.
It’s also important in preparing your case to keep careful documentation of your medical records, especially for the cost of care. Dog bite treatment can require extensive and expensive treatment. You may be able to recover some or all of those costs in the course of your claim or litigation.
Other areas of compensation include amounts for lost wages, including time missed from work for treatment, and for pain and suffering. If the worst has happened, and a loved one dies as a result of a dog attack, survivors may be able to pursue similar costs in connection with a wrongful death lawsuit.
Get the Proper Legal Advice for Dog Bites
The personal injury attorneys at De Castroverde Law can guide you through the legal process following a dog bite. We will work with you to understand the circumstances of the case and give you experienced advice on how to get the compensation you deserve. This can include negotiations with insurance companies short of a lawsuit.
Our team has experience in a wide variety of personal injury cases. We can assist in injuries from car accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, rideshare accidents, and wrongful death claims. Call us or contact us online today for a free consultation.