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Dogs are usually a man’s (and woman’s) best friend. But when dogs attack, their bites can leave permanent and disabling physical injuries and debilitating emotional impacts. Dog bite injuries can lead to hospitalization and extensive medical treatments. The staggering medical costs magnify if you cannot work due to your injuries, further straining your financial situation.

You don’t have to suffer alone. Let the dog-bite lawyers at TopDog Law fight for justice on your behalf. We can get you the maximum compensation you need and deserve so you can focus on your recovery. 

 

Why Choose Us?

TopDog Law’s founder James Helm grew up with a competitive edge, whether playing football or winning his own battle against painkillers. Bottom line, he’s a fighter who likes to win. James has applied that same competitive spirit to the cases he handles for his clients. As a result, he’s made TopDog Law the powerhouse it is today.

When you hire a dog bite attorney at TopDog Law, you get a lawyer you can trust—a straight shooter who isn’t afraid to get in the ring with negligent parties or their insurance companies and fight for the fair compensation you deserve. Contact TopDog Law today and learn how they can help you when you need help the most.

How Common Are Dog Bites?

Americans love dogs. Pups are the most popular pets in the U.S., inhabiting more than 65 million households. They are often loyal companions and family protectors. But some dogs act out aggressively, with devastating results. A surprising 4.5 million dog attacks occur each year in the U.S., and nearly 20 percent of dog bites become infected. About 1,000 people receive emergency medical treatment yearly for non-fatal dog bites, and dog bite injuries send nearly 12,500 people to the hospital. About 30 to 50 of them are fatal.

The staggering financial repercussions of a dog bite injury that results in hospitalization can cost $18,200 on average—about 50 percent more than the average injury-related hospitalization. Because of the seriousness of these injuries, dog bite victims experience about $2 billion in monetary losses each year.

According to the most recent dog bite statistics, dog owners paid $882 million in liability claims to compensate dog bite injury victims—a huge increase over previous years due to increased medical costs and higher settlements, judgments, and jury awards.

What Common Injuries Do Dog Bite Victims Sustain?

Dog Bite LawyerThe most common dog bite injuries seen by TopDog Law’s dog bite lawyers include:

  • Deep bruising
  • Skin punctures
  • Lacerations
  • Scratches
  • Scaring
  • Disfigurement
  • Broken bones
  • Nerve damages
  • Infections
  • Rabies
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Death

What Are the Six Levels of Dog Bites?

The Association of Professional Dog Trainers categorizes the severity of dog bites according to the Dunbar Bite Scale:

Level 1 Dog Bites

A Level 1 incident is when a dog aggressively shows his teeth and grows. The dog may nip at someone and catch their clothing in its teeth, but its teeth never actually contact the person’s skin.

Level 2 Dog Bites

Like a Level 1 incident, a Level 2 involves a dog showing aggressive behavior and biting at a person. The dog’s mouth contacts but doesn’t break the person’s skin, though it may leave a mark. Level 1 or 2 bites are the most common dog bite incidents.

Level 3 Dog Bites

A Level 3 dog bite occurs when a single bite creates one to four punctures in the victim’s skin with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth.

Level 4 Dog Bites

When a single dog bite makes at least one deep puncture wound, defined as deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth, it is classified as a Level 4 dog bite. These bites can cause deep bruising or lacerations if the dog shakes its head from side to side while its teeth clench down on a victim.

Level 5 Dog Bites

Level 5 dog attacks are exceptionally dangerous and mutilating. They involve multiple bites with deep wounds. The dog may bite multiple times during a single attack or attack a victim several times over a prolonged incident.

Level 6 Dog Bites

Level 6 dog bites involve the death of the victim. Dog attacks are also Level 6 if the dog consumes flesh it removes from the victim it attacks. Dogs who commit Level 5 or 6 dog bite injuries are considered extremely dangerous and unsafe around humans or other dogs.

What Laws Affect My Dog Bite Claim?

Under personal injury law, liable parties must cover the costs associated with the injury, such as medical treatment, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma. So, to recover for compensation in a dog bite claim, you must prove another person or party’s liability for the attack.

Dog bite laws vary from state to state. For the most part, states follow strict liability statutes or the so-called one-bite rule—or a combination of the two—to determine liability in dog bite incidents.

Strict liability:  Most states impose strict liability for dog bites, and some cities and counties have ordinances that further impose strict liability. In strict liability states, dog owners must cover all damages when their dog attacks another person on public property or when the victim lawfully enters private property. Exceptions include if the victim provoked the dog or trespassed.

One-bite rule: Fewer states follow the one-bite rule, which holds the dog owner liable for the bite victim’s injuries if the owner knew or should have known that the dog might act in a dangerous or harmful way. The premise gives the dog one free bite, after which the owner must know that their dog poses a risk to others and thus must pay for any subsequent harm it causes.

While states may enact similar dog bite statutes, they word and interpret them differently. For example, in some states, the statute only applies if the dog bites cause severe injury. Other states only make the dog owner strictly liable for economic damages, like medical bills, but not non-economic ones, such as pain and suffering.

Speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer from TopDog Law to understand the statutes and ordinances that affect your case.

Who Can You Hold Liable for a Dog Bite?

In most cases, we can hold the dog owner liable for the harm their dog causes to others.

But in some circumstances we can hold someone else liable, such as:

  • Someone other than the dog owner who harbored the dog
  • Professional dog caretakers, such as dog walkers, groomers or kennel operators, veterinary technicians, or shelter employees
  • The dog owner’s landlord, if they knew the dog on the premises was dangerous but didn’t protect others on the property from harm

Plaintiffs usually file dog bite claims against the dog owner’s homeowners insurance company. Recent statistics show that dog owners paid $882 million in liability claims to compensate dog bite victims’ injuries.

Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies generally limit how much they will compensate dog bite victims for damages. If your damages exceed the policy amount, you may hold the owner personally liable for the difference.

Finally, some aggressive dog breeds, like pit bulls and Rottweilers, are more likely to harm people. Thus, some insurance companies refuse to cover claims if the homeowners own certain dog breeds. Some city and county ordinances also ban more aggressive dog breeds.

Other Factors That May Affect Liability

State laws determine liability in a dog bite case.

Other common factors include:

Trespassing

The property owner does not bear liability if their dog bites someone who enters their private property without the owner’s express or implied permission, even under the strict liability rule.

Provocation

In states with strict liability, the owner may use provocation as a defense if the plaintiff incites the dog.

Negligence

A dog bite victim can also show their injuries happened due to the dog owner’s negligence. For example, if the dog owner didn’t follow local leash laws and his dog ran loose and bit someone, a plaintiff can hold the owner negligent.

Proving Negligence

To  prove negligence in a dog bite case, you must show the four elements of negligence:

  1. Duty of care: The dog’s owner owed the victim a legal duty of care, such as to obey local leash laws.
  2. Breach of duty: The dog’s owner breached their duty of care—for example, by not keeping their dog on a leash while on public property.
  3. Causation: The dog’s owner’s breach of duty caused the accident that injured you. For example, while off the leash in a public area, the dog attacked and injured you.
  4. Damages: Your dog-bite-related injuries caused you damages, such as medical bills and mental anguish.

An experienced dog bite lawyer at TopDog Law can determine if the dog owner’s negligence contributed to the attack that injured you.

Shared Negligence

When both the victim and the owner of the dog share blame for the dog bite injury, the state’s shared fault rules will determine how much compensation the victim gets—if any.

States use three basic approaches to assign fault:

  • Pure comparative negligence: Any compensation the victim receives decreases by their percentage of fault.
  • Modified comparative negligence: The compensation a victim receives decreases by their percentage of fault. However, if they share more than 50 or 51 percent of the blame (depending on the state’s rule), the victim cannot recover any compensation for their injuries.
  • Contributory negligence: Victims cannot recover any compensation for their damages if they share any amount of blame for their injuries.

What Compensation Can Dog Bite Victims Recover?

Dog bite victims may receive compensation for these damages:

  • Medical bills, including mediation, treatments, surgeries, physical therapy, and other medical expenses
  • Lost earnings if you miss work due to your injury
  • Property damage
  • Emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of companionship

What Steps Should I Take After a Dog Bite?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries from a dog bite, you can protect yourself and improve your chances of recovering compensation for your losses if you:

  • Have a medical doctor check out your wound.
  • Photograph your injury as soon after the dog attack as possible to document your injuries.
  • Change the bandaging as your doctor recommends.
  • Look for signs of infection, and contact your doctor immediately if you experience redness, swelling, increased pain, or fever.
  • Notify your local animal control agency or police department to report your dog bite.
  • Contact our dog bite lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

Contact Our TopDog Law Dog Bite Lawyers Today

TopDog Law Personal Injury Lawyers James Helm ImageIf a dog bite incident injured you or a loved one, you don’t have to suffer alone. With offices across the country, our personal injury lawyers at TopDog Law can help you hold the responsible party liable and get you the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation. If you hire us, you pay no money unless we get compensation for you. Visit us online or call us at (888) 778-1197 and tell us your story today. Reach out to a national personal injury lawyer.

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