Nearly 90 million households in the U.S. have at least one dog as a pet, which makes them one of the most popular four-footed family members in the nation. Although a dog may be lovable, cuddly, loyal, and man’s best friend, about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year according the Centers for Disease Control. If you crunch the numbers, that means that about 1 out of every 72 people get bitten by a dog every year. It’s more common than you might think.
The Mesa dog bite attorneys at Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC understand the physical, emotional, and psychological effects that a dog attack can have on a person. Our experienced attorneys handle dog bite cases and will fight for your rights and for the compensation you deserve if you have been bitten by a dog.
Why Hire an Attorney for A Dog Bite Injury?
Many dog bite injuries are from a dog that the victim knows ꟷ perhaps one that belongs to a friend or relative. It is uncomfortable and awkward to seek compensation from someone you know and consider a friend, but there may be no alternative. After all, a serious dog bite can take a heavy toll ꟷ both emotionally and financially ꟷ on the victim. Having an attorney that speaks for you can make this process, however unpleasant, much easier.
Additionally, in order to establish liability ꟷ that is, that the dog’s owner is responsible for the injury ꟷ it must be shown that the owner was negligent and did not take the necessary precautions to prevent it. An in-depth knowledge of both state and local laws is needed, as the legal definition of “negligence” varies from one place to another.
Finally, in order to receive compensation for a dog bite injury, it is necessary to communicate with the insurance company ꟷ not yours, but that of the dog’s owner. The insurance company isn’t going to be on your side; in a personal injury case, it is usually the opposing party. So, insurers often look for a quick settlement to avoid paying for all the costs associated with the injury. An experienced attorney knows how to deal with insurance companies, so they do not unduly delay the claim or pressure you to settle too quickly.
Types of Dog Bite Claims
Not all dogs are the same, and not all dog bite claims are the same either. An animal attack can involve a variety of different factors.
Every dog bite case is unique, but they can be separated into four basic categories:
- Non-aggressive accidents. This type of incident often doesn’t involve the dog actually biting someone. An energetic or overly excited dog ꟷ especially a large dog ꟷ can inadvertently trip or knock down a person, causing injury. Large dogs can easily weigh more than a human; Newfoundlands can hit 150 pounds, Great Danes and Rottweilers can tip the scales at 200 pounds, and English mastiffs can reach an impressive 230 pounds. It’s not hard to see how a large, powerful dog could cause injury without meaning to, especially when running, jumping, getting tangled in a leash, or interacting with a small child.
- Dangerous dog breeds. Some dog breeds are recognized as being more dangerous than others, and owners of such dogs may take out insurance policies because of this. A 13-year study done from 2005 to 2017 ꟷ during which 433 persons died in the U.S. as a result of dog attacks ꟷ showed that pit bulls were responsible for 65.5% of all dog attack fatalities. Rottweilers were a distant second at 10.4%, and German shepherds came in third at 4.6%. Other breeds that made the top ten were the American bulldog, mastiff, and husky.
- Dog attacks on children. Dog attacks on children are often handled differently from attacks on adults. Children are smaller, more vulnerable, and more susceptible to suffering long-term emotional and psychological harm from a dog bite. Whereas an adult who grew up around dogs may have no problem interacting with them even after being bitten, a child may develop an inordinate fear of dogs that will last the rest of their life.
- Dog-on-dog attacks. Dogs can be especially aggressive and fierce when fighting with each other, and a person who gets too close ꟷ especially one that interferes ꟷ can get seriously hurt. If a dog is injured, the medical expenses may be covered by insurance, but pain and suffering will not.
What Can Be Recovered After a Dog Bite Injury in Mesa?
It is possible to recover damages in a dog bite case. A lawyer can guide you through this process and inform you of what you are entitled to.
Damages from dog bites can be broken down into four basic areas:
- Medical expenses. Since a dog bite is an injury, there are almost always medical expenses associated with such cases. These can include emergency room care, doctor visits, antibiotics and other medication, physical therapy, surgery, and counseling. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, these expenses can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
- Lost income. If you must miss work because of having to recover from a dog bite, you are entitled to the income you lose. This compensation is not just restricted to short-term losses; if your ability to work in the future is restricted or limited because of permanent damage, you can also be compensated for loss of earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering. It is hard to put a number on how much a person should be compensated for pain and suffering, but dog bites clearly result in both physical and psychological trauma. A dog bite victim is certainly entitled to something, and while the monetary award won’t make the pain and suffering go away, it is done in the interests of justice so the victim feels that they have been compensated in some way.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages may be added by the court if the dog is known to be aggressive or has a history of bites or attacks. The owner can be charged with negligence for not keeping a vicious dog under proper control. While insurance companies cover the above-mentioned compensatory damages, they don’t cover punitive damages. The owner of the dog is responsible to pay these.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you have been bitten by a dog in the Mesa area and are wondering what to do next, talk to the attorneys at Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC right away. They can guide you through the complex legal process, help you get the best medical care, and let you know what compensation you are entitled to.
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