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In the United States, a little more than 36% of households own at least one dog. Dogs are a great source of joy for many of us. These pets didn’t earn their nickname as man’s best friend for no reason. Canines become our greatest companions and can also defend us from danger. However, more than 4 million Americans are victims of dog bites every year. Of those, an estimated 20% of victims require medical attention for their injuries. Dog bite victims do have legal options available. A skilled dog bite lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm can protect your rights.
If you need legal assistance for a dog bite, a dog bite lawyer at The Carlson Law Firm knows which measures to take when dealing with negligent dog owners. We are ready to put the experience of more than 40 attorneys and over 100 staff members to use, to help you receive the compensation you deserve. You can be confident knowing that a dog bite lawyer can help you effectively accomplish your case. Our firm can hold the individual liable for your personal or your child’s injuries after a dog attack. Our job is not to give up pursuing a favorable result, no matter how difficult the situation becomes.
How Many People are Bitten By A Dog Every Year?
Being bit by a dog is a fairly common experience for many people in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4.7 million dog bites occur in the US each year. Over half of dog bites occur in the home with dogs who are familiar to us. Naturally, as the number of dogs in the home increases, dog bites become more probable. Unfortunately, children are more likely to be on the receiving end of a dog bite. But among adults, men are more likely to suffer a bite.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
In 2015, 35 Americans were killed by dogs. Dog bites should never be taken lightly. A serious dog bite — even by a small dog — can result in permanent muscle damage and deep tissue scars that can require major reconstructive surgery. Children, especially, are subject not only to physical injury but also to ongoing psychological trauma and emotional distress, particularly if the visible scars are on the face, hands or lower arms.
Bites may result in one or more of the following injuries:
- Tissue loss and avulsion
- Crush injuries
- Fractured bones
- Sprain/strain injuries
- Infections such as rabies
Infections Caused By Dog Bites
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the primary complication arising from dog bite injuries is an infection, which occurs in one of five dog bite cases. The most common diseases and infections suffered as a result of dog bite injuries are as follows:
A virus that spreads to the brain and is almost always fatal. It can be transferred from the saliva of an infected dog through a dog bite.
A type of bacteria that lives in a dog’s mouth and can be spread through a bite, especially to those with weakened immune systems.
The most common type of bacteria found in infected bites, which can cause pain, redness, and swelling at the puncture site.
A deadly type of bacteria that is resistant to many strains of antibiotics and will not show symptoms in infected animals.
A toxin caused by certain bacteria that can cause paralysis in people who are not vaccinated. This is a problem especially if the bite wound is deep.
Psychological Injuries Caused By Dog Bites
Physical scars can heal even if the injuries to a body may require stitches or antibiotics, but the emotional scarring from some dog bite injuries may be a little more lasting and come with a difficult recovery process.
The emotional distress or anguish caused by a dog bite can cause:
- Anxiety when a flashback occurs
- A lasting fear of dogs
- Anti-social behavior
- Nervousness about being outside
- Symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder
Dog Bite Treatment
Cleaning an injury caused by a bite in the shortest time possible is essential in order to prevent infection. Dog bite treatment should occur immediately. When one is bitten by a dog in order to disinfect the wound you should follow the following steps:
- 1. Let the wound bleed for a few minutes if the blood flow is not severe. This is a simple an effective method for the bacteria transmitted by the bite to come out of one’s body.
- 2. Wash the wound with antibacterial soap and let the water flow over it for 5 minutes. This is a vital step to combat wound infection.
- 3. Cover the affected area with a sterile gauze bandage. If you do not have a sterile gauze bandage at hand, then use a disposable paper towel. Avoid using a towel or a handkerchief because they can store other bacteria.
- 4. For puncture wounds, you can use an antibiotic ointment
- 5. For laceration, you can apply hydrogen peroxide and then cover the wound with a sterile bandage to compress the bleeding.
- 6. It’s important to always seek medical treatment if you were bit by a dog. Scheduled an appointment with your primary care physican as soon as possbile, or visit an urgent care clinic or the hospital’s emergency room.
- 7. Contact a skilled dog bite lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.
What To Do If You’re Bitten By A Dog
With a dog bite taking place every 75 seconds in the United States, knowing what to do in the moments immediately following an attack can make the aftermath of a very scary situation a little less stressful.
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Report the incident to local authorities
- Identify witnesses
- Document with photographs
- Consult with an experienced dog bite lawyer
Should I Report A Dog Bite?
If you or someone you love was bitten by a dog, your first step should be to seek medical treatment for your injuries and then file a dog bite report with your local animal control officials. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may even be required by law to file a dog bite report.
Sometimes a dog bite victim doesn’t want to file a report because he or she is friends with the dog’s owner, afraid of the owner, or doesn’t want anything to happen to the dog itself. However, authorities strongly suggest or require victims of dog bites to report these incidents to the local animal control.
There are a number of reasons to do this, including the following:
- It helps protect others from being attacked by the same animal. Someone is more likely to take extra precautions once the authorities are aware of the dog’s dangerous behavior, especially if they are required to do so by law.
- It provides vital legal documentation which helps if you need to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the owner. Filing a report will help you obtain records regarding the dog’s owner, the dog’s history, and vaccination information. The investigation may also provide evidence you can present to the insurance company or during a lawsuit.
- It helps local authorities enforce state and local dog bite laws. A dog bite report triggers an investigation into the incident, and if the dog is categorized as dangerous, the owner may be required to carry special insurance or take extra precautions to ensure the public’s safety.
Local animal control agencies also help protect dogs that are being abused or neglected, so filing a dog bite report may be in the animal’s best interest as well.
Dog Aggression Toward Children
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are approximately 4.5 million bites per year, with over half of these victims being children. Children in the age group of 5-9 years of age have the highest incidence of dog bite injuries, while children, in general, are more likely to have serious injuries from a dog attack. Although there are many theories on why dog attacks on children are so common, some of the most accepted theories include the following:
It is generally accepted that dogs have a pack mentality and view the humans around them as part of a pack. A dog may view a child as a subordinate in the hierarchy, making them vulnerable to bites.
Children are less likely to be educated on dog behavior and be able to read the signs that a dog may be about to attack. A child may approach a dog that is in pain or fearful, while an adult can usually recognize these signs.
Children tend to move in fast and unpredictable manners, causing anxiety in some dogs. When a dog has anxiety or is afraid, they are more likely to bite.
Due to their small size, children are at high risk for serious dog injuries. The American Humane Society estimates that 60% of injuries to children from dog bites are in the head and neck regions. This is most likely due to the proximity of the head of a child to the mouth of a dog, making it the easiest target. However, hands, arms, and legs are also commonly bitten areas on both children and adults.
How to protect children from dog bites
The severity of these bites on a child can be extreme. Dog bites can not only puncture, but they can also rip skin, muscles, and tendons, causing extensive damage. In severe cases, these injuries can be fatal; 70% of all dog attack fatalities are children under the age of 10. While there’s no failsafe plan to keep your child safe from dog bites, there are some precautions parents and dog owners can take to prevent dog bites.
Tips to protect your children from dog bites
- Teach your child to always ask if it’s OK to pet a person’s dog before petting the dog. A pet owner will know their pet well enough to know if approaching strangers can put the dog in distress. A stressed dog can lead to serious dog bite injuries.
- Allow a dog to sniff and see you before reaching out to pet it. Dogs defend themselves with their teeth. An animal may view a stranger as a threat and may lash out and attack.
- If an unfamiliar dog approaches your child, teach your child to remain motionless. Running from a dog can lead to trigger an animal’s natural hunting instinct.
- Dogs can knock small children down, if this occurs, teach your child to curl into a ball with your head tucked and hands over your ears and neck.
- Tell your children to let an adult know immediately about any stray dogs or strange behaving dogs.
- Never encourage pets, especially dogs to play aggressively. Dogs can easily mistake the movements of children as play. Aggressive play can lead to serious harm for small children who are often bit on the head or face.
Even the most well-prepared child can still suffer injuries. A Dog Bite Lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm can help your family get the compensation you deserve.
Dog Bite Law In Texas
Texas does not have a statute that specifically covers a dog owner’s civil liability for damages caused by their animal’s biting someone, unlike many other states.
Instead, Texas is a negligence or one bite rule state for purposes of personal injury cases stemming from dog bites.
In a Texas dog bite lawsuit, an injured person must show that:
- The dog’s owner knew that the dog had acted aggressively or had bitten someone in the past, or
- The dog’s owner negligently failed to use reasonable care to control the dog or prevent the bite, and as a result, the injured person was bitten.
Although Texas’s negligence rule applies to most dog bites, Texas courts will apply a strict liability rule in cases in which the dog is known to be vicious, dangerous or mischievous, and the bites resulted from the dog’s known nature. This means that if an injury was caused by a dangerous dog, the injured person does not have to demonstrate that the owner also failed to use reasonable care to restrain or control the dog. A Texas dog bite attorney from The Carlson Law Firm can help explain this process in further detail during your free consultation.
Leash Laws in Texas
Leash laws are similar to dangerous dog laws. They are laws created by municipalities to prevent dogs from running at large. Depending on the city, the leash law may be as strict as to impose absolute responsibility on the dog owner if the animal is off a leash anywhere except an enclosed space or as flexible as to only recognize a violation where the owner knowingly allows the dog to run at large. These laws may, in some cases, give an injured person another way to hold an irresponsible pet owner responsible.
Compensation For Your Dog Bite Injury: Help From A Dog Bite Lawyer
There’s no reason to let the insurance companies intimidate you when you have an experienced dog bite attorney fighting for you. In most cases, it is the homeowner insurance policy of the dog owner that is the source of funds for settling animal bite claims.
A dog bite lawyer from our firm knows the process, and we won’t stop working until you get the compensation you deserve. This may even include compensation for surgical or psychological treatment for whatever impact the attack may have had on you. It may also include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Emotional trauma and anguish
- Lost wages
If you have suffered a dog bite, notify our personal injury lawyers. We can provide you with a dog bite lawyer to champion your case and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury.
Dog Bite Liability: Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Dog Bite Claims?
If the dog owner is in an average or lower economic state, it may be impossible for them to afford all the expenses caused by the dog bite. The good news is, there are situations where homeowners insurance will pay for your injuries.
The purpose of homeowners insurance in this type of situation is to help pay for injuries people receive on someone else’s property. Many injuries turn out to be excessively costly making it difficult for homeowners to pay out of pocket for such injuries unless they are quite wealthy. Homeowner’s insurance gives you an opportunity to still have your medical bills resolved without having to carry the stress and anxiety of having to sue a friend or family member.
When does homeowner’s insurance cover dog bites?
Homeowner’s insurance will usually only step in if the dog bite occurred within the boundaries of someone’s property. This could lead to problems if their dog was on your property at the time of the dog bite. If you were walking down the street and the dog attacked you on the street, homeowner’s insurance may not cover the costs. Instead, you may need to sue the dog owner in court rather than through the insurance system.
For a dog owner to be able to defend themselves against a dog bite liability claim successfully, they must prove:
- They were not aware their dog was aggressive.
- The plaintiff was unlawfully trespassing on the dog owner’s property.
- The owner properly restrained and controlled the dog.
How A Dog Bite Lawyer at The Carlson Law Firm Can Help You
Many of these attacks involve small children, and if your child was a victim, we advise that you first seek medical attention as soon as possible. A dog bite can lead to severe infection and excessive doctor visits. Depending on the severity of the injury and the amount of treatment needed, dog bites can result in high medical bill costs. It is necessary to take legal action against the negligent dog owner that did not take the steps needed to ensure safe protection from their dog. A dog bite attorney can help.
At the Carlson Law Firm, a dog bite lawyer will pursue civil remedies for individuals who have sustained a bite injury.
What will The Carlson Law Firm do for you?
We will first investigate your potential claim by a determination of the situation surrounding the bite:
- Where was the dog?
- Where was its owner?
- Were there any extenuating circumstances that caused the dog to bite?
- Where was the individual the dog bit?
Secondly, we will investigate the applicable local law. Many cities have municipal ordinances that dictate how dogs must be handled and kept. These ordinances can differ from city to city.
Third, we will research any homeowner’s insurance policy that may cover medical bills incurred for:
- ER visits
- Medical tests as a result of the bite
- Medically necessary surgeries
- Scar revision surgery (plastic surgery)
- Mental health counseling
We understand that every dog-bite case is unique and The Carlson Law Firm is here to help. We have been assisting those bitten by a dog for over 40 years. During, that time, The Carlson Law Firm has never advocated for the destruction of any animal.
Let a Texas dog bite lawyer from The Carlson Law Firm guide you through the process of recovery.