According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a dog bite occurs every 75 seconds in America.
Dog attacks affect both owners and victims, many resulting in legal action.
Of those bites, one in five is serious enough to seek medical attention which means over 1,000 dog bite victims arrive at emergency facilities each day! Serious dog bites are much more common than people think.
Were You the Victim of a Dog Bite Attack?
The definition of what constitutes a dog bite is not as clear as one might think. If a dog uses its mouth to grab something and grips it (or attempts to) a “bite” has occurred. This is true even if the skin is not punctured. Many serious injuries can occur even when there are no external wounds. There may be damage to tissues beneath the skin or internal organs that isn’t visible. If you’ve been bitten by a dog it is best to consult a medical professional for a full diagnosis.
Determining Dog Bite Liability
Generally, a dog’s owner is responsible for any damage caused. This includes medical bills, lost income, and compensation for suffering. It may also include the legal fees of the defendant! Therefore, the determination of who this owner is should be the first step for any victim.
The laws surrounding who is responsible for a dog bite vary greatly from state to state so you have to know the laws in your area. Here in Colorado, dog bite liability can be determined through various actions including violation of an animal control law or negligence.
Since an owner is ultimately responsible for their dog’s actions and is expected to handle any dangerous dog with extra diligence, there is a rule referred to as the “one bite” rule. This was made to protect dog owners from liability when their pet has had no known aggressive behaviors or bites. Once a dog has bitten, any further injuries caused are the sole liability of the owner.
Even within the same state, cities and counties may have specific ordinances that affect who the liable party is so consulting local legal representation is highly recommended.
Other steps to take if you’re the victim of a dog attack are:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible for you or your loved one’s well being and to properly document the incident.
- Photographs should be taken while at the medical facility with the assistance of the care staff to provide visual evidence without causing further injury.
- Even in the case of a minor bite, a medical professional should rule out the possible need for protection against diseases such as rabies.
- Victims should also file a bite report with their local animal control office. In an area where there are none, the Sheriff will take the report. This not only further provides documentation for a legal case but protects any future victims of the same dog by allowing authorities to properly enforce the laws.
Remember, victims are responsible for keeping proper documentation, making the proper report to authorities, and seeking legal counsel when a dog bite has occurred.
The Consequences of a Dog Attack
Beyond being held financially accountable for a dog bite, owners may have other consequences. The dog itself may be removed from their custody and even euthanized if the court and animal control determine this to be necessary. There are also criminal charges that may be filed in the situations where serious injury or death results from a bite. This is especially true of a dog owner who has prior knowledge of their dog’s aggressive behaviors or a history of biting and fails to prevent recurrence.
If you’ve been the victim of a dog attack, seek the experienced legal advice of Jeremy Rosenthal to guide you through the process.