What Dog Bite Law Applies When You Have To Seek Legal Help For Dog Bite Cases

What Dog Bite Law Applies When You Have To Seek Legal Help For Dog Bite Cases 2

Sarah Watts* Dog attacks, whether from a dangerous dog or a dog that playfully bites anyone, can lead to serious medical and legal issues, but one of the major issues confronting both the dog bite victim and the owner of any dog is what law will apply – and how.

The issue of dog bite incidents is a serious one.

Not only can a dog attack often results in serious injuries, such as broken bones, punctures, bruises, and lacerations but the prevalence of the problem is also serious.

According to data from DogsBite, in the fifteen years from 2005 to 2019, dog attacks killed 521 Americans.

Dog attacks can cause severe injuries, even to large adults who might be thought able to repel an attack from an aggressive dog. When dogs attack, they often bite their victims on the face, neck, and hands, where bones and tendons are close to the skin. These bites frequently result in deep puncture wounds that may become infected or cause permanent disability.

There are various steps that a dog bite victim needs to take – both medical and legal.

Following any animal bites (from dogs or otherwise) it is vital to obviously seek urgent medical treatment. But apart from the medical requirements, there are also important requirements in so far as any personal injury claim is concerned when taking action over the dog bite and to properly assess the dog owner’s liability for the injury.

Seek Medical Help Immediately

If you are bitten, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. A total of 37 dogs in the US tested positive for rabies during a rabies surveillance study in 2020. According to CDC, this virus can infect your central nervous system. If you don’t get immediate and appropriate medical treatment after exposure to rabies, it can lead to numerous severe complications, such as brain disease, eventually leading to death.

You should receive tetanus and rabies shots if the dog has not been vaccinated or antibiotics for an open wound if it is clean. Be sure to get stitches to close up a bite wound.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog and are experiencing extreme bleeding, severe pain or numbness in an extremity, or serious head injury, call 911 immediately because it’s possible that you have suffered from severe injuries that will require immediate medical attention at a hospital.

Document The Medical Issues and Treatment

The medical attention must be properly documented to establish compensation under any civil suit, liability insurance and other action against the animal’s owner.

The ability of the injured person to seek redress is going to be determined by a number of factors, including the correct assessment and documentation of the injury that has been sustained.

Only by bringing an action for compensation for injury, medical and other expenses can the injured party receive compensation and personal injury attorneys will want to ensure that before bringing an action the evidence is properly included in any claim.

State and Federal Dog Laws

There are not federal dangerous dog laws and so it is the individual state laws that apply regarding the legal duty of the dog’s owner and what the victim of the bite can claim.

States have their own dangerous dog laws and some individual cities and counties will also have laws regarding dog owner’s liability.

These are the laws that will determine what is regarded as dangerous – for instance, whether a single dog bite will deem a dog dangerous or whether there needs to be multiple bites to obtain such a finding.

Similarly, some dog laws mandate that a dog that has killed another animal is dangerous, while others do not.

Report the Dog Bite Incident to Local Authorities

You’ll most likely need to report the incident to your local police department or animal control agency. You may also want to file a claim with your homeowners’ insurance company if your dog bite leads to injuries that require medical treatment.

A dog that is involved in any attack may be seized or sometimes put on what is called a ‘bite hold’ if it is regarded as a vicious dog. In such cases the dog owner may seek a hearing about the nature of the hold, which may be before an administrative hearing officer or a judge.

Obtaining Legal Help

Contacting legal help from a dog bite attorney is the best way to know your rights in any legal situation and using an attorney experienced in dog bite laws and who has handled dog bite claims is important.

The lawyers are experienced in this area of law and will be able to help you understand your rights in detail.

The different states’ different laws mean that a good knowledge of the state law (or local laws on some occasions) is important. As mentioned, the legal rights relating to different states and to dog owners and dog bite victims will differ.

The best thing to do is to hire a lawyer in your area. For example, dog bites led to death in a recent event in Las Vegas when an older woman was killed after being mauled by a rescue Pitbull.

Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, there were around 38,000 people who received emergency treatment in that State alone (which was in 2015 and so the updated figures are currently unknown, but will be substantial).

As with most jurisdictions (but as mentioned, this may vary), the requirement is to prove a case against the dog owner, that the dog caused the injury and that it occurred in either a public place or in a private place where the victim had lawfuel authority to be.

For instance, in Nevada there is no statewide law that relates to dog bite injury and compensation. A Las Vegas dog bite lawyer LawFuel spoke with explained that it is essential to know what rules and compensation may apply in each case. Nevada has the so-called ‘one-bite rule’, which other states often have, where the owner of a dog must have knowledge of an unprovoked attack, aggressive behaviour or dangerousness before becoming liable.

The key here is to have an attorney with the appropriate local knowledge and experience to handle a claim for a dog’s aggressive behaviour.

Take Photos of Your Injuries and the Scene of the Attack

Take photos of your injuries and the scene of the attack to also provide evidence of the injury and dog behaviour.

It’s not just about proving that your injuries are real; it’s also about showing where the incident happened. This is important evidence if you are trying to collect damages for medical bills or pain and suffering.

If you have any witnesses to the incident, try to get their contact information so that they can verify what happened. Don’t forget to ask them if they also took pictures or videos of the incident.

If possible, try to get statements from witnesses on paper if they were unwilling to give them verbally at the scene of the attack. This will make it easier for them to remember exactly what happened later.

Keep a Journal of All Your Medical Visits and Recovery Process

A dog bite attorney can help you get compensation for your injuries and other losses. More than one-third of the homeowners’ liability claims in 2021 were related to injuries caused by dogs. According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, $881 million was paid toward these claims.

Frequently there will be criminal as well as civil law charges that follow a serious dog bite situation and where public safety or other issues are at stake.

But gathering as much evidence as possible is crucial before you file a claim. After all, the more evidence and proof of the incident you can provide to the insurance company or lawyer representing them, the better your chances of winning your case and getting what you deserve.

Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Keep a journal of all your medical visits and recovery process
  • Take photos of your injuries and the scene of the attack
  • Report the incident to local authorities

Insurance and Legal Issues

Clearly a dog bite can have both legal and financial consequences. A dog owner is usually liable for the damages caused by their dog and any insurance may not always cover the medical and other costs as a result of the injury.

The insurance company may not pay for lost wages due to time off work if it does cover all medical costs.

Obtaining advice regarding the appropriate action and properly documenting the situation are both key components of achieving a successful outcome in terms of any damages or insurance payouts that result from the dog biting situation. Given the variation in dog bite laws in different states, counties and cities, the knowledge imparted by an experienced dog bite lawyer is going to be a valuable asset.

Author –

Sarah Watts writes on consumer affairs and consumer law matters, focused upon domestic and business law matters affecting everyday consumers. She has written for LawFuel and numerous blogs and papers, including the Huffington Post.

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