Most dog bites cause puncture wounds. The dog's teeth will pierce through the outer layer of skin and plunge into lower layers. Don't be fooled by the outside appearance of a puncture wound. Although they may look relatively minor, the majority of damage is often done to muscles and tissues below the surface.
Bites from especially powerful breeds can often cause serious and permanent nerve damage. What looks like a puncture wound initially may result in nerve damage below the surface. Victims who have been bitten on the face, neck, arms, or legs are especially vulnerable to nerve damage.
Dog's mouths are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs. When a bite punctures the skin, these various foreign contaminants have an easy route into your bloodstream. Symptoms of an infection include redness, swelling, pus, tenderness, and heat. Children, sick people, and the elderly are at a higher risk of infection from a dog bite.
Scarring And Disfigurement
Many victims are forced to be physically reminded of their traumatic experience for the rest of their lives. Severe bites often cause scarring once the wounds have healed. Many victims are injured so severely that they require reconstructive cosmetic surgery to repair the damage.
Fatal dog attacks aren't exactly common. While approximately 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, in 2016 there were "only" 14 reported fatalities. While this percentage may be tiny, it is still inexcusable that there are any dog bite fatalities at all. These attacks could have likely all been avoided if the owners had acted more responsibly.
There are two common factors in most fatalities:
- A powerful breed such as a pit bull, rottweiler, or German shepherd
- A vulnerable victim such as a child or elderly person
Mental & Emotional Damages
Imagine being a kid who loves dogs. You're playing with a dog who you assume is friendly, when suddenly the animal turns violent and attacks. Along with the physical pain that goes along with such an attack, you may never view
dogs the same way again. Suddenly the animal you used to love becomes a dangerous presence that makes you fearful anytime you're around a dog in the future.
While children are the most sensitive to these emotional damages, anyone can suffer from PTSD-like symptoms in the wake of a dog attack. This is especially true for people with severe or life-threatening injuries. Former dog-lovers may never be able to own one again after a serious attack. Other victims might feel compelled to cross the street when they see a neighbor walking their dog.
While these emotional damages may not show from the outside, that doesn't make them any less real. Dog bite victims deserve relief for the nightmares, lifelong fear of dogs, or fear of even leaving the house that may follow them long after the physical injuries have healed.
Recovering From An Attack
If you've recently been injured by a dog bite or attack, there are avenues for relief. There are a few factors which determine the extent of damages you may recover:
- The dog's history - If the dog has been labeled a "dangerous dog" because of a violent history, you are eligible to seek full compensation for your recovery.
- The extent of your injuries - If you've suffered severe injuries (e.g. broken bones or injuries requiring surgery), you're permitted to sue for full damages regardless of the dog's history.
- The owner's negligence - If you can prove that the accident was caused by the dog owner's negligence, then neither of the above criteria are necessary in order to seek full damages.
All dog bite victims are permitted to seek compensation for medical bills from the owner. Those who are eligible for full damages may receive compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Lost and future wages
If you've recently been bitten and are wondering about the validity of your case, it's best to consult with a personal injury attorney. He or she will analyze the specifics of your incident and help you to determine the best way to recover the compensation you need.