What Should I Do If I Was Bitten by a Pit Bull?
The pit bull is a dog breed that is commonly associated with serious and fatal bites and attacks. While proponents and supporters of the breed insist that pit bulls, on the whole, are misunderstood and that many of the attacks in which pit bulls are involved are not the result of any vicious tendency inherent in the breed, the fact remains that pit bulls are responsible for a large percentage of fatal dog bites and attacks.
The pain and trauma caused by a pit bull bite or attack can easily cause the victim to panic and fail to take appropriate actions to protect their physical and legal rights. Knowing what to do following a pit bull attack can help increase the chances of you or your loved one making a full and complete recovery.
YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SEEK COMPENSATION
What to Do After Bite from a Pit Bull
1. Seek Medical Attention
If you have been bitten by a pit bull, the first thing you should do is immediately seek medical attention. Dog bites can cause serious infections and may carry rabies if the dog has not vaccinated. Dog bites can cause serious and even life-threatening injuries if not treated quickly and properly, so it is important to visit the ER or your family doctor immediately. This will also provide documentation of your injury and treatment that your lawyer can use to prove the extent of your injuries and prove such injuries resulted from the dog bite.
2. Contact Animal Control
After any dog bite, you should contact Animal Control and report the bite. This provides official documentation of the bite and the details surrounding the incident. The owner will also be required to demonstrate that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, and if unable to do so, the dog will be quarantined for ten days in order to determine if it has rabies.
3. Document Injuries and Details
It is important to document your injuries. Be sure to take photos of the bite and affected area, as soon as possible after the bite occurs, but also throughout the treatment and healing process. You should also gather as much evidence as possible regarding details of events surrounding the incident, including photos of the area where it occurred. Some useful questions to ask yourself are:
- What were you doing before the attack?
- Did you see the pit bull approach you?
- What did the dog look like?
- How did the attack begin?
- What did you do when the dog began attacking you?
- How did the attack end?
- Did you recognize the dog?
- Did the owner of the dog speak with you after the attack?
4. Gather Witness Information
You should obtain the contact information of any witnesses who may have been present at the time you were bitten. It is also critical to obtain the contact information and insurance information of the dog owner immediately after you are bitten.
5. Consult an Attorney
Consult an experienced dog bite attorney to ensure you seek fair compensation for your injuries. An attorney will know the laws regarding dog bites, and the lawyer can help you prove the dog owner was liable for your injuries. You should only discuss the details of the incident with your attorney. Do not discuss these details with the dog owner or their insurance company without consulting your attorney first, as this could damage your case.
Can I File A Lawsuit?
Laws regarding dog bites vary by state, but generally, if you are bitten by a Pit Bull, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. The specific circumstances surrounding your dog bite should be carefully documented, such as if the dog was properly enclosed or restrained, and whether any sign was posted warning of the dog’s presence such as a “Beware of Dog” sign, as such factors can be used to determine if it is possible to file a claim for damages. There are some factors that may make it more difficult to file a claim successfully. For example, if you are trespassing when you are bitten by the dog or provoking the dog, you may not be able to seek damages. Other factors, such as local or state leash laws and dog bite laws, may also play a role in determining if you are able to file a claim successfully.
Common Injuries Caused by Pit Bulls
Dog bites can cause a variety of infections, including:
- Rabies: Rabies can be transmitted via the dog’s saliva. It is treated with a series of shots. If rabies is undiagnosed or untreated, it can result in death, which is why it is important to seek medical attention immediately after a dog bite occurs.
- Pasteurella: An infection frequently caused by dog-bites, it can cause swelling in glands and joints, which can impair movement abilities, as well as cause arthritis and abscesses.
- Tetanus: A bacterial infection that can cause painful muscle spasms, and if left untreated, can lead to paralysis or death.
- MRSA: Dog bites often result in staph infections, which can be life-threatening, especially once it spreads to the bloodstream and lungs.
- Capnocytophaga: These bacteria are present in dogs, and while not harmful to them, can cause illness in humans, and are usually contracted via a dog bite. Capnocytophaga can cause severe illness in humans, including sepsis, which can be lethal.
2. Open Wounds
A dog bite will often result in open wounds, that can leave the victim vulnerable to infection. This often leads to extended hospital stays so that the wounds may be monitored. Open wounds can also leave permanent scarring or disfigurement after they have healed.
3. Broken Bones
Pit Bulls have very powerful jaws, and their bites are capable of crushing and breaking bones, especially bites that occur in the hands, arms, legs or feet. In some cases, fingers or toes may be completely bitten off.
4. Internal Injuries
A dog bite can exert incredible force and is capable of crushing or damaging internal organs and/or muscles. Bites that occur in the arms or legs can cause serious, sometimes permanent and crippling muscle damage. This can cause serious, and sometimes permanent injury.
Proving Owner Negligence
While many states have “strict-liability” laws that hold dog owners responsible for dog bites, some do not, while others may have a “one-bite rule,” which only makes the dog-owner liable if they know or should know that the dog is dangerous. In order to prove the dog owner is liable in a state with a one-bite rule, the defendant must be able to prove that the dog has previously bitten someone or previously acted in an aggressive manner, which the owner should have known about.
To file a successful dog bite lawsuit in a state that has strict-liability laws the best course is to prove that the owner of the dog has behaved in a negligent manner rather than with reasonable care regarding the dog. The specific details of your case are instrumental in proving whether or not this duty of care has been breached by the dog owner, which is why it is important to document as much evidence as possible concerning the circumstances of your dog bite, including eye-witnesses, photos, and video if it is available.
Pit-bull owners may have to maintain a higher standard of reasonable care in some states as well, where laws may regard owning what is considered a dangerous breed of dog. If a Pit Bull owner has forgotten to close the gate of an enclosure, allowed their dog to run loose, or inadequately secured the dog, they may have acted with negligence.
However, this duty of care does not extend to some circumstances, such as trespassers who may be bitten, or if the dog is provoked. The owner of the dog can also be found to have behaved in a negligent manner if they fail to follow applicable laws regarding their dog when the dog bite occurs, such as allowing the dog to run loose when there is a leash law for that area.
The dog’s history may also be taken into account if the dog has previously had incidents involving aggressive behavior or attacking another person, as this will demonstrate that the owner knew his dog had these tendencies and failed to take proper preventative steps.
How Will A Lawyer Deal With The Insurance Company?
Most damages from a dog bite will be taken care of by the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. Claims-adjusters will often attempt to persuade you that an attorney is not necessary, because it is their job to save the insurer money paid out for claims.
Hiring an attorney helps to ensure that you seek the compensation you deserve. Once hired, your attorney will investigate the incident, and seek to prove liability and/or negligence by the dog owner. In most cases, the insurer will seek to reach a negotiated settlement in order to avoid a costly trial, and your attorney will work to ensure that you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
Pit Bulls Are the Most Dangerous Dogs In The United States
Pit bulls represent a uniquely dangerous breed of dog and pose a significant threat to those who encounter them if proper precautions are not taken by their owners. In a study conducted by the CDC over 20 years, pit bulls were shown to have caused 66 deaths, more than the next two breeds combined. Between 1982-2014, pit bulls were by far, the most dangerous dogs, responsible for 3397 attacks, whereas the dog with the second most numerous attacks, the Rottweiler, only accounted for 535 attacks during this same period. In many states and cities, pit bulls are legally considered to be dangerous dogs, and ownership of one is considered knowledge by the owner that their dog is dangerous and must take proper precautions.
Legal Time Limits
The statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim varies by state but is generally the same as that of personal injury claims in most states. This can vary from one to six years after the injury occurs, but in most states, it will be two or three years from the date of the dog bite. It is important to consult an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible after you have been injured by a dog bite to make sure that your claim can be acted upon and potentially lead to compensation for your damages.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
You may have the right to bring a lawsuit against the dog’s owner and seek financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses – but you only have a limited time in which to do this.
At Zinda Law Group, PLLC, our team of experienced and dedicated pit bull bite attorneys are ready to assist you with your compensation claim. Call our dog bite lawyers at 800-863-5312 for a free consultation.