If another party’s dog attacked you, hiring an attorney may be the best way to recover compensation for your injuries. What kind of lawyer do you need for a dog bite injury? A personal injury attorney who has handled animal attack cases is going to be your best bet. An injury lawyer will identify the parties who are responsible for the dog bite and help you hold them accountable. 

What Can You Do if You Are Injured by a Dog Bite? 

The steps you take after a dog attack can significantly impact your recovery. 

The first step to take is to seek medical treatment right away, especially if there is any chance that the dog’s saliva came into contact with a new or existing open wound. Dog’s mouths carry bacteria and viruses, many of which are harmless to the dog because of natural or vaccine immunity. But these same bacteria and viruses can cause serious, even life-threatening diseases in humans. 

Seeking medical attention helps protects you from developing a severe infection. Additionally, it produces medical records that can support your personal injury claim. You should also follow your doctor’s recommendations for caring for your wound to help ensure proper healing.

Be sure to gather information about the vicious dog, its owner, and the location where the animal attack happened. If witnesses saw the dog bite you, get their contact information. Witness testimony may be useful if your injury claim goes to court.

If the dog bite involves another person’s pet, various legal options available. You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the pet’s owner, a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner, or both. Your dog bite lawyer will help you determine who can be held liable for your dog bite injuries.

Hiring an attorney who has experience in dog bite cases will improve your chances of recovering compensation for your medical bills, pain, trauma, and lost wages. Your dog bite lawyer will help you file a personal injury claim with the insurance company, negotiate with their representatives, and ensure your settlement is fair. If your dog bite injury case goes to trial, having an injury attorney on your side will increase your odds of obtaining a favorable determination from the jury.

Potential Types of Dog Bite Injuries 

Summer unleashes a sharp rise in dog attacks, so it’s important to practice extra caution around dogs this time of year. Dog bites can cause permanent injuries. Depending on the severity of the bite and the victim’s vulnerability to infection and other health issues, dog bite injuries may even be deadly. Common injuries seen by dog bite lawyers in Law Vegas include: 

Punctures 

A puncture wound occurs when a dog’s tooth punctures the skin. This type of injury usually involves the dog’s long canine teeth, which can cause deep puncture wounds. If bites are deep enough and expose the body to potentially harmful bacteria, this may lead to infections. 

Abrasions 

Many dog bites cause mild abrasions, which are minor scrapes or scratches that don’t break the skin. However, a degree of bleeding may develop with these superficial wounds, which could also lead to an infection in some cases. 

Lacerations 

These are similar to abrasions, only they’re deeper and break the skin. They may affect the underlying muscles and tendons, nerves, organs, and bones under the skin. These wounds typically require professional medical care to properly heal. Like abrasions and punctures, they may also lead to an infection if left untreated. 

Bacterial Infections 

As mentioned, different types of dog bites can develop into serious infections without proper care. The fact is that around 10% to 15% of dog bites wind up infected due to bacterial buildup on the skin or in the wound. This bacterium may come from the dog’s saliva or later exposure to other sources. There are several types of bacterial infections that could develop from dog bites, such as: 

  • Capnocytophaga — Dogs and cats may contain these bacteria in their saliva. It’s capable of causing serious infections in humans. People on certain medications or with compromised immune systems may be especially vulnerable to this infection. Symptoms could include fever, blisters around the bite area, and redness, among others. 
  • Pasteurella — This infection puts many at risk, but it’s particularly dangerous for elderly pet owners who are more vulnerable to infections and often own companion animals. Victims may experience symptoms such as inflammation and redness around the bite. It may also develop into sepsis, pneumonia, or a bone infection without treatment. 
  • Tetanus — Bacteria in soil, manure, or dust could cause tetanus through a dog bite injury. One key symptom of this infection is the signature “lockjaw,” in which jaw muscles begin cramping. Victims may also experience difficulty swallowing, muscle spasms, and headaches. 
  • Rabies — Symptoms of rabies may include headache, fever, weakness, cognitive difficulties, or general discomfort. This disease is potentially fatal, but infections are far less common or deadly because of the prevalence of rabies vaccines. If individuals suspect that a bite has exposed them to rabies, they should seek immediate medical attention to prevent it from infecting the nervous system.  
  • Sepsis — If the body needs to fight hard to get rid of an existing infection, it could experience sepsis. This involves the bloodstream pumping dangerously high levels of chemicals that would ordinarily combat infections. This could cause serious harm to the body and is potentially fatal. 

Avulsion 

This involves injuries that remove the skin from the body, including parts of the body such as the ears. These injuries may lead to permanent scarring and require reconstructive surgery. 

Crushing Injuries 

Some bites may involve crushing injuries, particularly when large dogs bite with more force. Crushing injuries may include fractures, crushes, or broken bones along with damage to soft tissue. 

Nerve Damage 

Bites that reach the nerves could cause damage to the nervous system. This may result in temporary partial disability or permanent disability in affected areas of the body.  

Fatal Wounds 

In some cases, a dog bite could directly cause a person’s death. For example, small children and infants could suffer fatal dog bites because of their more fragile physical state. Adults could also die from dog bites if the bite hits an artery or another vulnerable location, or if multiple dogs attack at once. In these instances, the families of dog bite injury victims may be able to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the dog owner. 

Proving Liability in a Dog Bite Case 

To recover compensation for dog bite injuries, victims will need to prove liability.

Like other types of personal injury cases, dog bite injury cases require the plaintiff to show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. For example, the plaintiff may be able to show that the dog owner invited him or her to the dog owner’s property. 

The plaintiff also must show that the dog owner or property owner breached the duty of care that was owed. Allowing a vicious animal to roam off-leash, failing to muzzle a dog that was known to bite, or leaving a gate open and enabling a dog to get loose are examples of negligence. 

Winning your dog bite lawsuit also requires that you establish that the defendant’s actions or negligence caused your injuries. Witness statements, video footage, and medical records may help you prove how your injuries were caused.

Lastly, you will need to prove that you suffered injuries because of the pet owner’s or property owner’s negligence. 

How Much Is the Average Dog Bite Settlement Worth? 

Dog bite injury victims frequently ask, “What is the average payout for a personal injury claim involving a dog bite?” There is no universal average for dog bite injuries. Factors that could influence the total settlement amount include the severity of the injuries sustained, the percentage of negligence assigned to the dog owner or another liable party, and the insurance coverage or financial resources available. 

For example, let’s say that the victim who, because of the injury, will never be able to walk again. This plaintiff may receive more compensation than someone who did not sustain significant injuries from the dog bite. 

Individuals might also want to know, “Are personal injury settlements taxable?” Portions of the personal injury settlement may be taxable, depending on how it is categorized.  

Types of Compensation Awarded in Dog Bite Injury Claims 

Dog bite injury victims may be able to recover different types of compensation for their injuries, including economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages 

Economic damages compensate dog bite victims for the financial losses incurred because of the attack. These include: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Future medical care 
  • Lost income resulting from recovery or disability 
  • Lost earning capacity 
  • Health insurance deductibles 

Non-Economic Damages 

Non-economic damages compensate victims for the human cost of the dog bite attack and injury. Some examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of consortium. 

Punitive Damages 

The courts rarely award punitive damages, but they may play a part in some dog bite injury cases. The court awards these damages with the goal of punishing the defendant for committing egregiously negligent acts. 

What Are the Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim? 

When filing a dog bite claim or lawsuit, the dog owner or another liable party may try to minimize the victim’s injuries or deny liability altogether.

These defenses may include arguing that the victim provoked the dog into attacking. Additionally, the dog owner may argue that the victim assumed the risk of entering the property, with a clear warning such as a “Beware of Dog” sign. Sometimes, defendants even go as far as to claim the victim’s injuries are not serious.

Consulting with a Dog Bite Attorney 

Dog bites often give rise to claims or lawsuits involving large settlement amounts. When more money is at stake, insurance companies will fight harder to minimize or deny personal injury or premises liability claims. With your financial recovery on the line, it’s important to hire an experienced attorney with a solid reputation for winning dog bite injury cases.