Animal and Dog Bites
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Have You Been Injured in an Animal Attack?
Ask an Animal Attack Lawyer What to Do
Over 4.7 million people are bitten or mauled by dogs every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In fact, the second most common cause of injury to children are dog bites. Of these, more than 800,000 require medical help. Worse yet, there are more than a dozen deaths from these attacks.
Dog owners are responsible for any damages or injuries caused by their animals; however, different states have different laws regarding how much responsibility the owner has. Some states require the victim to show evidence that the owner was aware their animal was dangerous and failed to take the necessary precautions. Other states require dog owners to take full responsibility, no matter what the animal’s past history may be. The animal’s owner cannot be held responsible if a victim is trespassing or if a victim provokes the animal. Your state may have a law called the one-bite rule, which could be applicable to your case.
What are the Statistics on Animal Attacks?
Dogs attack for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons for an animal attack is when the animal is trying to protect its territory; however, animals also attack when in an unfamiliar environment, protecting its food, awakened while sleeping, or when a toy or treat is taken away. Male dogs are more likely to bite than female dogs are. While there have been claims of all dog breeds biting, 50 percent of all dog bites are by Rottweilers and pit bulls.
Let’s go over some important animal attack-related statistics:
From 2008-2015 fatalities from animal attacks including venomous and nonvenomous animals found that many attacks had the potential to be avoided, and yet mortality rates did not decrease.
The most common types of animals responsible for attacking and killing humans include farm animals, stinging insects, and dogs.
From 2008-2015, researchers found that 1,610 animal-related fatalities occurred in the U.S., with the majority of deaths occurring as a result of attacks by non-venomous animals. This rate of death was equivalent to a previous study performed from 1999-2007.
Though many people fear mountain lions while camping and sharks when swimming at the beach, most deaths resulting from animal attacks are not caused by wild animals, but are instead a result of encounters with farm animals, anaphylaxis from stinging insects, and dog attacks.
Who is Responsible for an Animal Attack?
The litigation process for an animal attack can be tricky. A dog’s owner should be aware of the risk of their dog biting, mauling, or attacking another person or child. The owner can lessen the chances of an attack by training their animals, socializing the dog with people and other animals, and obeying laws regarding the dog’s restraint. A potential victim should approach an animal with caution and treat all animals with kindness to lessen the likelihood of an attack. Depending on the particular circumstances of an animal attack, several parties may be involved in your particular case. This may include:
- The dog owner. In most states, the dog owner is held responsible for any damages incurred by their dog attacking another person. However, the amount of liability resting on the dog owner may vary from state-to-state. Some states impose strict liability upon dog owners, which means regardless of whether the owner was mistaken in the handling of their dog, they are fully culpable for any damages incurred as a result of the dog attacking someone. In some states, however, the owner of an animal may only be held partially liable for the injuries their dog inflicts, provided there is no evidence to prove they suspected their animal could be a danger to anyone else. Essentially, this means that if a dog owner was aware their animal might harm someone, they can be liable for any damages sustained due to an attack by their animal.
- The injured party. The injured party themself may actually be responsible or at least partially responsible for the dog attack if it occurred under specific circumstances. For example, if the victim was preemptively warned about the danger the animal posed and the owner of that animal made proper efforts to keep the animal away from people it might hurt, but the victim ignored these directions and protections, they might not be able to win a case against the dog owner. There is a reasonable expectation that if a person knowingly approaches or allows themselves to be in the vicinity of a dangerous animal, they are accepting the risk of an attack. When an animal attack victim was injured by neglecting to exercise an appropriate degree of care for their own safety, they may no longer be able to prove the owner’s liability.
- Animal care facilities. Many facilities are responsible for keeping and caring for animals, including dog shelters, dog-sitting services, veterinary clinics, pet stores, kennels, etc. If someone is injured due to an animal attack that could have been prevented by proper attention and safety protocols on behalf of the animal facility or animal facility staff, the facility may be liable for damages incurred from that animal attack.
- Parents of minors. When a family owns an animal and also has a child under the age of 18 in their house, they may be responsible for any damages occurring as a result of that animal attacking their child. If a parent knowingly kept a high-risk animal in the same home as their child, and an attack occurred, a third-party could bring a legal claim forward against the parents of that minor child.
Property Owners. If the owner of a property allows an animal on their property, regardless of whether they were aware of the danger that animal posed, they could be held liable for any damages occurring if that animal were to attack someone.
- Landlords. Landlords are required to be informed of any animals living on the premises. If a landlord was aware of their tenant owning and keeping a potentially dangerous animal on the property and made no efforts to prevent this, the landlord may also be liable for any animal attack injuries or subsequent damages.
Do You Have a Claim for an Animal Attack?
Depending on the nature of your or your family member’s injuries due to an animal attack, your personal injury lawyer may identify possible claims for:
- Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from an animal attack may include: dog bites; soft tissue injuries; fractures; spinal cord injury; rabies; and, in the worst case scenario, death.
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of an animal attack victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
- Lifecare expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress.
- Loss of care and companionship
- Wrongful death.
- Funeral expenses.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a dog bite or animal attack, whether due to owner negligence or otherwise, you need a personal injury attorney that understands the state’s specific animal laws. An experienced attorney will be aggressive in seeking the compensation that you or your loved one deserves.