Dog attacks are physically and emotionally traumatic for victims. After an attack, people are often quick to blame the dog or the breed. In many cases, however, the dog’s owner could have or should have prevented the incident from happening.
When cornered, taunted, or otherwise aggravated, almost any dog could become aggressive. Fear and agitation are often the result of improper training, inadequate care, or abuse. These feelings may cause the dog to try to protect itself or its owner to avoid harm. Even dogs that are living with a loving family may show aggressive traits if they experienced trauma in the past. These experiences can lead the dog to lash out unexpectedly and bite whoever is nearby.
Every dog owner has the responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent their dog from injuring others. When owners demonstrate irresponsible dog handling, the likelihood that a dog will bite someone greatly increase. However, even responsible dog owners may be unable to avoid a dangerous situation that may lead their dog to bite.
If a dog bit you or a loved one, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your injury. Spaulding Injury Law is ready to offer you legal counsel right now, so you can start your injury claim as soon as possible.
Contact one of our attorneys now for a free consultation on your case.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite Injury?
The state of Georgia holds dog owners responsible for dog bite injuries if the owner neglected their duty to safely handle their dog. This may include a wide variety of situations, from allowing an aggressive dog to play with a child to letting a dog off-leash in an area that requires one.
Despite the owner’s responsibility, when you pursue legal action after a dog bite injury, you are typically seeking financial compensation from insurance, rather than directly from the owner. Under most policies, homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance provide liability coverage that applies to dog bite injuries. These liability policies cover expenses related to the injury of others and typically range from between $100,000 and $300,000 of coverage.
Some dog owners may also have a specific dog liability insurance policy, if they own a restricted breed, such as a Pit Bull or Rottweiler, or if their dog has a history of biting. These policies provide additional liability coverage specifically for dog bite injuries.
In a single recent year, homeowners’ insurance companies paid $797 million for liability claims related to dog bite injuries. Dog owners must take responsibility when their dog injures you, but insurance companies are the ones who must pay for the pain you experienced.
Understanding Complications from Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites typically occur in one of two specific ways: bite-and-release or bite-and-hold. When a dog bites and then releases, it will usually cause a puncture wound. When a dog bites and holds onto the skin, the injuries may be significantly deeper and may also include pulling or tearing the skin.
While the severity of the initial bite is a concern, there is a wide variety of complications that could potentially arise.
Some of the possible complications from a dog bite include:
- Infection from the bacteria in the dog’s mouth
- Broken bones
- Strained or torn muscles or ligaments
- Nerve damage
These complications from a dog bite are serious and many of them may permanently impact your life. You need to get medical attention as soon as possible after a dog bite, to ensure that you get the care you need to stay healthy and safe.
Compensation for Injuries in Dog Bite Cases
When a dog bites you, you may experience a serious physical and emotional toll that you will have to work to recover from and overcome. In addition to the physical trauma, you may also be forced to incur significant medical bills as a result.
You shouldn’t have to suffer physically, emotionally, or financially due to an unprovoked dog attack. Fortunately, the law allows you to seek fair compensation if the dog’s owner was negligent.
The compensation you receive from your injury claim could be vital to picking up the pieces and moving on with your life.
You could be eligible to seek full compensation for:
- Medical bills and future medical care related to the bite
- Rehabilitation services
- Damage to property during the incident
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages or future income
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Impact the incident had on your marriage, also called loss of consortium
- Punitive damages related to the owner’s misconduct
Compensation for a dog bite varies significantly based on the circumstances and severity of your injuries. You should speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to fully understand the types of financial compensation you may be entitled to.
It is important to recognize that while some people are bitten by dogs they’ve never met (at parks, on the street, or elsewhere), a significant number of victims already know the dog and the dog’s owner. The owner might be a friend, a neighbor, or even a close relative.
If you’ve been severely injured by a dog that is familiar to you, the decision to seek compensation from the owner can be gut-wrenching. Unfortunately, you might be facing mounting medical bills and lasting health and financial consequences as a result of the attack, and paying for them out-of-pocket might not be feasible or desirable.
Fortunately, most people’s homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bite injury claims. If the owner has a policy that includes dog bites, you won’t have to worry about “suing” the person for compensation. Instead, you could file a claim against their insurance policy, recover the compensation you need, and avoid putting them in a difficult situation.
This is a common avenue for many dog bite victims, and might be the right path for you to take as well.