Watching Out For Dogs

Watching out for dogs that bite is good advice for pet owners and animal lovers alike. Dogs may be man’s best friend, but anyone who has been bitten will agree that the bite is worse than the bark. While there are many sayings about dogs and their owners, once a bite occurs, the law too has something to say — about responsibility for the injury, and damages.

A Leading Cause of Injuries
Dog bites are very common — each year nearly five million Americans are bitten by dogs, with over half the victims being children. In fact, dog bites are the second leading cause of emergency room visits. Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. seeks medical care because of a dog bite.

Liability For Dog Bites
The old saying that “every dog gets one free bite” was once a correct statement of the law. Owners were liable for the acts of a pet only if it was known to be vicious. Before a pet bit someone, the owner could deny knowing its vicious tendencies. So the first victim of a dog’s teeth might have no legal remedy. The old rule began changing many years ago, at least as to pet dogs.

Some states passed laws making owners responsible to anyone bitten by their dog, whether or not it was known to be vicious. Today, most places hold dog owners responsible for damages caused when their dog bites someone. But even this simple rule has exceptions. For example, a dog’s owner may not be liable for injuries the dog inflicts on a person who ignores adequate warnings that the dog is vicious and may bite.

What To Do If A Dog Bites You
If a dog bites you, there are several things you should do to protect your rights. It is important to identify the dog’s owner or determine if it’s a stray (if it’s a stray, there’s a greater chance you will need rabies shots). If you can locate the owner, get his or her name, address, home and work phone numbers and insurance company. Also get the name, address and phone numbers of all witnesses, and make notes on when and where the incident happened and the circumstances.

After a dog bite see a doctor immediately, even if you think your injuries are minor. A doctor will help prevent minor injuries from getting worse. A doctor will also advise you if you need rabies shots.

You should call our law firm immediately to learn your rights. As noted above, in most states dog owners are liable for injuries their dog causes unless the victim ignored proper warnings. There can also be parties legally responsible for your injuries in addition to the dog’s owner, such as the owner of the property where the bite occurred. In many cases, the dog owner’s insurance (or property owner’s insurance) will be the source of compensation for you.

Dog bite victims generally have the right to be compensated for several things, including their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and compensation for physical disfigurement and scarring. Many dog bite victims undergo several plastic surgeries and miss a significant amount of work, so there is a potential that if you are bitten by a dog you will incur a large amount of medical bills and other damages. As a victim, you will want to be reimbursed for these damages.

Call Us For Help
Dog owners should always take care to protect others from being bitten or attacked by their pets. But everyone can reduce the risk of injuries from vicious animals by being careful. If an injury does occur, it is comforting to know that the dog’s owner is usually responsible for the damage that is caused. We can help you recover compensation for your injuries and losses.

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