With over 70 million dogs kept as pets in the United States, it is no surprise that dog bites result in over 300,000 emergency room visits every year. Dog bite injuries are not limited to immediate physical injuries, however – dog attacks can cause the transmission of disease as well as long-term psychological distress.
Common Dog Bite Wounds
Dog attacks can leave serious wounds that sometimes lead to permanent disability. Some of the most common dog bite wounds include:
- puncture wounds
- strains (pulled muscles)
- broken bones
- permanent scarring
- loss of blood
Dog bites can spread several types of infectious diseases, including the dreaded and often-fatal rabies virus. Although cases of rabies in humans are increasingly rare due to effective disease control, potentially life-threatening bacterial infections such as cellulitis and C canimorsus can be spread through dog bites. These diseases can in turn lead to life-threatening complications.
Psychological and Social Injuries
A psychological or social injury caused by a dog attack can be every bit as real and harmful as a physical injury. Psychological damage are particularly likely when the victim is a child, and the younger the child is the more severe and long-lasting the damage is likely to be. In addition, third parties who witness a serious dog attack are vulnerable to psychological disorders. The most common psychological and social problems that can be caused by a dog attack include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychological disorder that is famous for affecting combat veterans
- Cynophobia (a pathological fear of dogs)
- Social ostracization (due to severe disfigurement)
What You Can Result in Compensation?
Obviously, you are entitled to seek compensation for your medical bills arising from a dog attack. You must seek compensation not only for medical bills that you have already been paid or that have already been assessed, but also for future anticipated medical bills if your injuries are long-term. It is important that you accurately estimate these damages with the help of your lawyer and your health care provider. In addition to medical bills, you may also seek compensation for the following indirect losses:
- Lost earnings: If you lost work time due to your injuries, you are entitled to full compensation. Calculating compensation can get tricky if you are suffering from a long-term disability that interferes with your ability to hold your position in the future.
- Incidental expenses: You can be compensated for child care expenses you incurred while hospitalized, expenses for traveling to and from health care facilities, and other out-of-pocket expenses that arose from your injuries.
- Pain and suffering: You are entitled to compensation for your physical pain and suffering. Although these damages can be difficult to estimate, they often far exceed the amount of your medical expenses.
- Mental anguish: Mental anguish damages compensate you for emotional trauma arising from, for example, social ostracism that you might suffer due to a severely disfigured face.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are only awarded on very rare occasions when the defendant’s conduct was shocking or outrageous (“siccing” his dog on you, for example). The defendant’s actions might have to add up to criminal conduct for you to win punitive damages.
All of the foregoing bases for damages can be demanded just as effectively in a settlement negotiation as in court. Because of the potential complexity of dog bite claims, the services of an experienced dog bite attorney could greatly increase the amount you eventually recover.