How common are dog bites, and who gets bitten?
The United States has approximately 90 million pet dogs—that’s more than one-third of all households. Dogs attack approximately 4.5 million people each year, and one of every five victims requires medical attention, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Sadly, more than 31 percent were children under 14—most between 5 and 9. Many children don’t know not to approach a strange dog, and they may try to play with a dog that’s being aggressive. The majority of children bitten suffered injuries to the head, neck, and face.
Usually, victims are familiar with the dog that bit them. That can make things awkward when you have to go to the hospital, and the bills start piling up. Should you ask the dog’s owner for money? Will it ruin your relationship? Is it worth asking? Well, maybe. If you or your child are bitten by a dog, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner. If the wounds are serious, you should file that claim as soon as possible!
5 Reasons to Hire a Dog Bite Attorney
Most people avoid hiring an attorney because of the cost. However, in these types of injury claims, attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. That means that the victim does not pay the attorney unless he or she succeeds with the claim and receives compensation for their client.
In addition to no upfront costs, there are other benefits that come with hiring a dog attack attorney, including:
- You get a skilled negotiator on your side. The insurance company might offer you a settlement, but that does not mean they are offering you the amount you deserve. In most cases, they are offering much less than you deserve – but hoping that you have not yet consulted an attorney to find out your case’s worth. With an attorney, you have someone who knows how to negotiate with insurance companies and has experience handling these types of cases.
- An attorney knows your state’s dog bite laws. Every state is different with their dog bite laws. Some states automatically assign negligence to an owner, while others require evidence the dog has a violent past. You are recovering from a dog attack, and you do not have time to research these laws. An attorney has experience with not only injury claims, but dog attack cases. They know dog bite statutes and are up-to-date on any legislation that affects them.
- Access to a team of investigators. If your case is difficult to prove, your attorney has a team of investigators that can help collect evidence.
- Access to answers. Being in the middle of a dog bite claim is not something you have done before, so naturally, you will have plenty of questions. When you hire a dog attack attorney, you have someone there to answer those questions and put your concerns to rest.
- Your personal advocate. You need someone to fight for your right to compensation, bu also ensure that the same dog that attacked you does not harm someone else. An attorney is your personal advocate. They will not rest until you receive your compensation and the owner takes proper actions with their dog to protect the public.
The Damage Inflicted By Dog Bites
A dog bite can cause deep wounds that damage tissue and tendons. The bite force of the dog may lead to a wound that results in a loss of blood pressure, extreme pain, or even broken bones. In addition, a larger dog attacking a human may be able to knock them down, which can lead to head or spine injuries.
Beyond obvious injuries, one major risk associated with dog bites is disease transmission. Dog saliva can carry a number of infectious diseases and bacteria, including Capnocytophaga, pasteurella, MRSA, tetanus, and—in extreme cases—rabies. The risk factor for rabies is higher when the victim is bit by an unfamiliar dog or stray. Note its behavior: extreme, unprovoked aggression; foaming at the mouth; or disorientation are all signs of a potentially rabid dog. Due to the potential for diseases, all dog bites should be addressed by a medical professional.
Compensation for Dog Bites
Financial and noneconomic (pain & suffering) damages are common in dog bite claims. Victims in a dog bite claim may sustain a variety of losses and damages because of the dog bite injury including:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical pain and suffering
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Mental and emotional distress, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, fear, and other emotional disorders
- Future loss of income and loss of earning capacity
- Future medical and personal care
It can be difficult to calculate the value of a dog bite injury claim. Financial losses can be documented through written evidence, but pain and suffering damages are subjective and different for each person.
How Long Do I Have to File a Dog Bite Claim?
Many dog bite cases are resolved through insurance claims. For example, the attack may be covered by the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. If the attack occurred in a car, it might be covered by the owner’s car insurance. There are also owners who have special insurance for their dogs, which may apply to dog bites or attacks. If your attack is covered by insurance, you should file a claim as soon as possible. Insurance companies often have deadlines for submitting claims and if you miss the deadline, you could miss your chance of obtaining insurance compensation.
If the owner does not have insurance for the dog bite, dog bite lawyers may be able to file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve. However, there is a deadline for filing a lawsuit, also known as a statute of limitations. If you do not file a case before the statute of limitations expires, you lose the right to do so. Dog bite claims are governed by Georgia’s personal injury statute of limitations, which says claims must be filed within two years of when negligence occurred. This means you have two years from the date of the attack to file a lawsuit.
This is why you need to contact our attorneys right away. Two years is not much time and it takes our lawyers time to complete an investigation, collect evidence and build a strong case.
They will also be prepared to file a lawsuit on your behalf if the insurance claims process is unsuccessful. They have the resources and know-how to get your lawsuit filed before the statute of limitations expires, even if the insurance process takes several months.