Who Is to Blame in a Dog Bite Case?
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Americans are pet owners. Nearly 70% of Americans own at least one pet. According to the American Pet Products Association, there are 90 million pet dogs. Though most dogs are friendly and safe to be around, that is not always true.
Does a Dog Get “One Free Bite”?
States vary in their dog bite laws. Some states enforce the one bite law states that a dog owner will not be liable if his or her dog bites an individual and it is the first known instance that the dog has bitten someone. However, under the one bite law, a dog owner will still be liable for his or her dog’s first known bite if the owner knew that the dog had a propensity to be violent.
Some states have strict liability laws for dog bites. Some states hold a dog owner strictly liable when his or her dog bites another individual who is legally on public or private property. However, like many laws, there are exceptions. For example, people who are bitten by police or military dogs on duty will not be able to file a lawsuit for their bites.
In the context of a dog bite lawsuit, strict liability means that the dog owner will be legally responsible for the dog bite even if he or she did not know that his or her dog had a tendency to bite. To put it more simply, a dog owner will be automatically responsible to a victim of a bite from his or her dog.
If neither strict liability nor the one bite law applies to your case, you may still pursue a negligence claim. In such a lawsuit, you would argue that you would not have been injured had it not been for the owner’s negligence.
WHO IS TO BLAME?
When the Owner Is to Blame
Often, a dog bite accident occurs because the owner is irresponsible. For instance, some dog owners do not leash their dogs while taking them out on a walk. An unleashed dog may attack individuals without warning. Some owners let their dogs live outside, but fail to enclose the outside area properly. These owners may have set up fences that are too low or too weak, allowing the dog to escape and attack individuals.
When the Victim is to Blame
Of course, the owner is not always to blame for a dog bite accident. A dog owner may not be liable if the victim caused the dog to bite him or her. For instance, if the victim was trespassing on a property that happened to have a dog, he or she may not be able to file a lawsuit against the property owner. Furthermore, a victim may not be able to file a lawsuit if he or she purposely provoked the dog by attacking it or through some other behavior.
Read More: Child Dog Bite Attorneys
Dog Biting Accident Statistics
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are around 4.5 million dog bite accidents each year. Around 800,000 need medical care due to those bites. There are around 330 million Americans each year. Thus, one out of every 73 people suffers a dog bite. Texas takes the lead in fatal dog bites.
Read More: Dog Bite Statistics
Most Common Dog Breeds to Bite
Some dog breeds are more aggressive than normal. These dogs are much more likely to attack people without provocation. Though there are some dog breed advocates who claim that a dog cannot be inherently dangerous and that only a dog’s owner should be blamed for a dog’s violent disposition, this is not the case. For instance, pit bulls are often overrepresented when looking at statistics measuring dog bites. Some other dog breeds that are known to be more aggressive than normal are as follows:
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Lacerations are simply cuts and or tears in the skin.
Disfigurement is when your physical appearance has been permanently altered. For instance, there have been several cases where a dog bites the victim’s face, permanently distorting the victim’s face.
Nerve damage can cause a person to lose sensation in certain parts of his or her body. For instance, if a dog bites the victim’s finger and damages the nerves of the finger, the victim may no longer be able to feel anything using that finger.
Any kind of traumatic event can cause PTSD. A victim of a dog bite may have recurring nightmares of the dog bite and may become anxious around dogs.
Dogs can carry many diseases if they are not properly vaccinated. For instance, an unvaccinated dog can transmit rabies to its victim.
What to Do After Being Bitten by a Dog
1. Wash the Wound
Even a minor bite can be dangerous if it gets infected. After a dog bite, get antibacterial soap and wipe the affected area. Also, let water flow over it for five minutes.
2. Cover the Wound
Get some sterile bandages or disposable paper towels to cover the wound.
3. Seek Expert Medical Treatment
Seek emergency medical treatment if needed, or schedule an appointment with a physician to get additional treatment.
4. Contact Animal Control
When you are able, you should report a dog bite to the animal control department in your area. If the dog that bit you is on the loose, you should also call 911 because the dog could be a threat to other people in the area.
5. Contact an Experienced Dog Lawyer
It is advised that you call an experienced dog bite lawyer so that you can find out your rights.
Dog Bite Compensation
In general, compensation is calculated by accounting for the victim’s economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses can include many factors. One such factor is medical costs. A severe dog bite is not something that can be treated with a home first-aid kid. After a dog bite injury, an ambulance or even an airlift may be required to transport the victim to a hospital. Once the victim is at the hospital, a doctor may have to perform a suture or surgery. Even after the initial treatment, there may be additional medical costs to prevent a post-operation infection. As you can imagine, a hefty bill may result from the totality of these events.
But economic losses include more than medical bills. Because a victim may not be able to work due to his or her injury, lost wages may also be considered. There could also be property damage to consider. In any case, economic damages consider a variety of factors that can be calculated monetarily.
Non-economic losses include factors that are more difficult to calculate than economic losses. For example, they include factors like the pain of the injury and treatment, mental suffering, and scarring and disfigurement.
Besides compensation for economic and non-economic losses, dog bite victims may also be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages depend on the conduct of the dog owner. They are very rare. Punitive damages are generally only available if the dog owner behaved willfully, recklessly, or intentionally. The standard varies depending on the jurisdiction.
An experienced attorney may help you seek compensation by negotiating on your behalf with the responsible party or their insurance company.
Read More: Does Renter’s Insurance Cover Dog Bites?
Statute of Limitations
Every state has what is called a statute of limitations for claims or lawsuits. A statute of limitations is the time limit to file a lawsuit. Some states have one, two, or even three-year statute of limitations for dog bites. If you do not file within the allotted time period, you may not be able to file a lawsuit, even if it may be backed by compelling evidence.
How Long Does It Take for a Dog Bite Settlement?
Notwithstanding the bureaucratic nature of the settlement process, depending on how long the investigation takes and how stubborn the dog owner is will affect how long it will take for a claim to settle. Of course, many other factors exist as well, such as:
- How severe your injuries are
- How much medical treatment you required
- Whether any property was damaged
- Whether the dog owner’s conduct was especially egregious
- And many others, depending on the state
Get Help From Texas Dog Bite Claim Injury Lawyers
The experienced attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your dog bite claim. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. Call our experienced team today to help you determine who may be responsible after a dog bite accident.
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