While many animals go through life without ever hurting someone, vicious dog or animal attacks lead to serious injuries. Some victims are scarred, needing extensive treatment and many times plastic surgery. Some experience fear and shock long after the attack. Still others, worst of all, die from their injuries.
The dog owner is responsible for the control and restraint of the animal. Ignoring this responsibility is a risk to public safety. If you’ve been attacked while on public property or while legally on private property, the owner may be liable if:
The animal wasn’t properly secured on the owner’s premises.
The animal wasn’t on a leash.
The owner knew the animal was prone to violence.
Further, the owner can be held responsible for negligence if you can prove that the owner failed to exercise ordinary care in controlling the dog. This can include failure to warn of the dog’s dangerous traits, failing to restrain a dangerous dog or engaging in conduct likely to excite the dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is Responsible for Dog Bite Injuries?
First and foremost, owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs. Dog owners must follow the leash laws and other ordinances in the city or county in which they reside. When you file a dog bite claim, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be suing the dog owner. This may come as a relief to those who’ve been injured by a dog owned by a family member or friend. In most cases, our attorneys will go up against the insurance company that provides renters or homeowners’ coverage to the dog owner.
Why Do Dogs Bite?
Some dogs have been raised in environments where aggressive actions are encouraged, or, even worse, rewarded. Other dogs may be irritable due to old age or illness. Our personal injury law firm has compiled dog bite safety tips to help you avoid animal attacks and prevent dog bites before they happen. It’s important to know the numbers. That why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of dog bite statistics. The more you know, the better chance you have at stopping a mauling or maiming before it happens. Our website also features dog bite resources, including a dog bite prevention quiz and links to other helpful dog bite information. Since children are often the victims of dangerous dogs, we’ve made sure to include links to specific info that can help if your son or daughter has been attacked by a dangerous dog.
What Are the Signs That a Dog Is Going to Bite?
A dog’s body language is the key to understanding when it may be preparing to bite. Here are some common signs that a dog is relaxed and not looking to bite:
A relaxed dog will hold its head up.
The dog’s tail with either be resting, pointed down, or gently wagging back and forth.
The ears should be neither back nor forward.
The dog’s hair will lie smooth along its back.
Its mouth and lips are relaxed, almost appearing as if the were smiling.
You can see the dog’s tongue.
Signs that a dog may be readying itself to bite:
The dog’s nose may be pulled back and wrinkled.
The dog’s lips are drawn back to reveal its teeth.
The hair along the back of its neck is raised straight down the spine.
You can see that the dog’s ears may lie back or be pushed up forward.
Its body may appear tense and cocked.
The dog is making noises such as growls or snarls.
Ways to Avoid Dog Bites and Dog Attacks
Good behavior begins with dog owners. Here are some tips to help dog owners encourage safety and prevent dog bites:
Know and follow leash laws. This goes for your home, as well as anywhere you may visit. Keeping your dog properly restrained at all times is a way to cut down on dog attacks.
Don’t let your dog run loose, even in your backyard. Make sure that the dog is kept on a run, inside an enclosed or fenced area, or wearing an electronic restraint collar. Dogs can easily get loose and bite people if there are no restraints in place.
Train your dog. Proper animal education allows the dog to establish positive patterns of behavior. With a solid background of training, your dog will understand basic commands and have a better sense of right and wrong.
Socialize your dog with both people and other dogs. Dog parks and doggie daycares are just two of the ways that your dog can gain safe exposure to other animals and humans. The more comfortable your dog is around strangers, the less chance there is that your dog will bite.
Train your dog to drop toys on command. Avoid reaching inside its mouth to retrieve toys.
Focus on non-aggressive games such as fetch. Tug-of-war and wrestling can encourage aggressive behavior.
Never, under any circumstances, leave a small child unsupervised with a dog.
Here are some safety tips when dealing with dogs that don’t live in your home:
Teach children to always ask a dog’s owner for permission to pet a dog.
Respect a dog’s space. Don’t casually place your hands on a dog’s fence or other property. Dogs are territorial by nature and may feel threatened if they don’t know you.
Always act with extra caution around a mother dog and her puppies. She will be very protective of her babies.
If approached by a dog that has gotten off its leash, do not run away and yell or make loud noises. Stand still, with your arms crossed over your chest, avoiding eye contact with the dog.
When you feel that a dog may be approaching you with the intent to bite, toss an object away from you and away from the dog to distract its attention. Then confidently turn and walk away from the dog.
Remember that a sick or old dog may be more irritable than a younger animal. Approach these dogs with extra caution.
Are Some Dog Breeds More Dangerous Than Others?
Unfortunately, this question has two very valid answers that contradict each other. First and foremost, it’s not the breed that makes it dangerous – a dog’s upbringing and lifestyle can make an otherwise gentle dog turn vicious. In that sense, the answer is “no.”
But, some dog owners seek out specific dog breeds for their supposedly aggressive temperaments. Because certain breeds have been targeted by dog owners who encourage aggression, these breeds have become disproportionately represented in dog bite statistics and other sources of information. In that sense, the answer is “yes.”
Fighting breeds may pose a unique threat. Pit Bull, Bulldog, Akita, Bullmastiff, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Dogue de Bordeaux, Fila Brasileiro, Presa Canario, Shar Pei, and Tosa Inu dog breeds are often coveted as fighting dogs. While they hold no specific threat when raised as a loving family dog, many of these breeds are raised as guard or attack dogs by their owners and thus should be approached with extra caution.
Hurt by a Dangerous Dog? Our Law Firm Is Here to Help You
When you’ve been attacked by a dog, the frustrations don’t just end with your dog bite injuries. There are medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that accumulate quickly, leaving you to deal with extra stress that you just don’t need.
Our experienced attorneys understand how dog bite accidents can make life difficult. If you have a legal question or would like a free legal evaluation of your claim, fill out the online request or call our office at (702) 240-0000.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you sue for a dog bite?
Depending on how the incident occurred, you can file a lawsuit against the dog owner if you are bitten or injured in any way by this person's dog (including being knocked down). Call Edward M. Bernstein and Associates for a free consultation to find out if you are eligible to receive compensation for your injury.
What is the average payout for a dog bite?
The average payout for dog bite settlements depends on your injuries, medical treatment, scarring and pain and suffering. Dog bites and other dog-related injuries cost insurers almost $700 million in 2017 and accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claims.
Can you get compensation for a dog bite?
While many animals go through life without ever hurting someone, vicious dog or animal attacks lead to serious injuries that result in thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You can receive compensation for dog bites or dog-related injuries from a homeowner through their homeowners insurance. If you or a loved one has suffered from a dog-related attack, call Edward M. Bernstein and Associates for a free consultation.
How long do dog bite settlements take?
The length of time necessary to settle a dog bite claim depends on how quickly you recover from your injuries. Once you are discharged by your doctor, we will gather all necessary evidence, including injury photos, medical bills and wage loss documents, and submit a settlement demand to the insurance company. If the insurance company does not make a fair offer, we will discuss filing a lawsuit to hold the dog owner responsible.
Who is liable in a dog attack?
The dog owner is responsible for the control and restraint of the animal. Ignoring this responsibility is a risk to public safety. If you've been attacked while on public property or while legally on private property, the owner may be liable if:
The animal wasn't properly secured on the owner's premises.
The animal wasn't on a leash.
The owner knew the animal was prone to violence.
Further, the owner can be held responsible for negligence if you can prove that the owner failed to exercise ordinary care in controlling the dog. This can include failure to warn of the dog's dangerous traits, failing to restrain a dangerous dog, or engaging in conduct likely to excite the dog.
Are Dog Bite Cases Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
The dog owner's homeowners insurance policy may provide you some protection under the liability provision of your standard policy. There may be exclusions of certain breeds depending on the insurance company.
Dog owners are usually liable if their dog bites or hurts someone, depending on the facts of the incident and relevant laws. The owner or their insurance company may have to compensate the victim for damages, including:
pain and suffering
any property damage related to the incident, such as injuries to your pet or broken eyewear; and
punitive damages, depending on the owner's conduct
What Kind of Lawyer Do You Need for a Dog Bite?
When you've been attacked by a dog, the frustrations don't just end with your dog bite injuries. There are medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses that accumulate quickly, leaving you to deal with extra stress that you just don't need.
Our experienced attorneys understand how dog bite incidents can make life difficult. If you have a legal question or would like a free legal evaluation of your claim, fill out the online request or call our office at (702) 996-3917.