Dog attacks often come seemingly out of nowhere. You may think, on the surface, that a dog appears friendly. Then, before you realize it, that dog has lunged at you, often causing significant damage. Now you have a host of worries to consider: not just the damage from the bite itself, but the high risk of infection.
How much compensation can you claim after a dog attack? The dog bite lawyer can help ensure you understand your rights, It may depend on several factors related to your claim.
Where Did the Dog Attack Occur?
Many states have strict liability laws when it comes to dog bites. Strict liability laws mean that the dog’s owner bears full liability for any damage resulting from a dog attack, regardless of whether the dog has bitten in the past or any other factors related to the dog’s temperament. However, if the attack occurred in a state without strict liability laws, it may take longer for you to acquire the compensation you deserve for those injuries.
What Medical Expenses Did You Sustain Directly From the Dog Attack?
A dog bite can cause substantial damage, including:
- Puncture wounds. The severity of the puncture wounds may relate to how long the dog had to bite, how hard the dog clamped down, and whether the dog or the victim attempted to pull back with the dog’s jaws still attached to the wound. Sometimes, the puncture wounds from a dog attack may require stitches to close them. In other cases, the punctures may not allow for clean closure, making it more difficult to get stitches.
- Broken bones. The force of a dog’s jaws can quickly lead to broken bones, especially smaller bones in the hands. Broken bones can also occur if the victim falls during the dog’s attack. A broken bone can result in a long road to recovery. Some broken bones may require surgery to set.
- A high risk of infection. Around one in five dog bites end up infected. Infection can cause its own set of complications, including a slower road to recovery.
- Head trauma. When a dog knocks someone over, it can result in immense head trauma if the victim’s head strikes the pavement or an obstacle. Head trauma can result in traumatic brain injury.
The more severe your injuries, the longer your road to recovery, and the higher your medical costs may grow. Talk to your lawyer about all the medical costs that may have gone into treatment for a dog attack.
Sometimes, you can get yourself to the hospital after a dog attack for treatment. In other cases, you may require transport in an ambulance. Ambulance transport can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the ambulance service used.
Dog bites often require treatment in the emergency room. You may have to have your wound sutured, and any other wounds tended to after the accident. Without that treatment, you may have a higher risk of infection or complications.
Most of the time, minor wounds may not require a long stay in the hospital. On the other hand, more serious wounds may require you to spend more time in the hospital. You may end up hospitalized if you need surgery to fix a broken bone, treatment for considerable wounds or a head injury, or, in many cases, treatment for a serious infection after the dog attack.
Some patients will require surgery to set broken bones after a dog attack. Your care provider may recommend that you have surgery to ensure that a broken bone heals properly. Sometimes, head trauma and other personal injuries may also require surgery. A devastating dog attack may also result in the patient in emergency surgery to take care of those severe lacerations, stop the bleeding, and reduce injury risk.
Furthermore, some patients may require plastic surgery after a dog attack, especially if the dog bites around the face. Many people struggle to deal with the emotional impact of severe scarring after an accident.
Durable Medical Equipment
In cases where you have severe injuries, you may require durable medical equipment to help you maintain independence at home after the accident. You may need more durable medical equipment for cases with severe injuries, including devastating broken bones.
Patients with severe dog bite injuries may find that, while they can return home after the attack, they may need additional assistance. In-home care can cover everything from help getting around with serious injuries to wound care. Patients with head injuries after a dog attack may need additional support, including help with basic self-care and decision-making immediately after the attack.
Some patients with severe dog bite injuries may require physical therapy to help them regain strength in the injured parts of the body after the accident. Active participation in physical therapy can help raise the patient’s odds of making a full recovery.
Did You Have to Miss Work Because of a Dog Attack?
Whether you have to miss work because of a dog attack can depend on a lot of factors. First, it may depend on the severity of your injuries. If you end up hospitalized or fighting a serious infection after a dog attack, you may miss significant work time. If you have relatively minor dog bite injuries, on the other hand, you may find that you can get back to work soon after the attack.
Next, how much work you have to miss after a dog attack may depend on your work. Dog bite wounds may need to stay clean and dry to help aid in recovery. You may also need to avoid anything that could cause you to get blood in some areas, including food.
If you work in an industry that requires you to get very messy or dirty, you may have difficulty getting back to work until your injuries heal. You may also find that if you work in a very active industry, you may have a harder time getting back on the job until your body can recover from the attack.
Talk to your lawyer about when you may have missed work because of your injuries.
Time Right After the Accident
Most people recognize that they can claim the time they had to miss at work right after the accident as part of an injury claim. Some people may miss just a day or two of work after a dog attack, while others may find that their injuries keep them out of work for weeks as they recover.
Talk to your lawyer about why you had to miss work right after your accident, including the severity of your injuries and any policies your employer might have that may have prevented you from heading back to work sooner. You may also want to include time missed because of your emotional state after the accident.
Time Missed for Follow-up Appointments
In some cases, you may head back to work but have to continue to miss work due to ongoing medical care. Your doctor may want to monitor your recovery carefully. Not only do you have stitches from the dog attack that may need to come out, but you may also need to go to physical therapy sessions during your workday since many physical therapists are unavailable after work hours. Talk to your lawyer about the time you had to miss at work for those ongoing medical procedures.
Time Missed for Additional Procedures
You returned to work right after your accident or within a few days or weeks after the attack, but you may not have received all the treatment or procedures you needed to recover fully. For example, you might have to take time off for a follow-up surgical procedure.
Plastic surgery, for example, may take place after the initial wounds from the attack have had time to heal. While you may choose to return to work while that healing takes place, you may need additional time off work for those further procedures. Tell your lawyer what procedures you needed and how much time you had to spend out of work because of them.
Sick and/or Vacation Time Used
In addition to direct wages lost because of the dog attack, talk to your lawyer about any sick or vacation time you had to use to recover from your injuries. When you use that time off after a dog attack, you will not have that time to use for other purposes, including your vacations. You may have the right to claim compensation for some of that lost time.
What Suffering Did the Dog Attack Cause?
A dog attack can cause a great deal of emotional and psychological struggle in addition to the physical pain and suffering that often accompanies a serious injury. Many people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or increased anxiety following a dog attack. Young people in particular have a high risk of suffering emotional trauma after an attack.
PTSD can make it difficult for people to go around dogs. In some cases, patients may even start to avoid areas where they might see dogs to decrease their exposure. PTSD can interfere with many areas of the patient’s daily life, particularly around something as common as seeing a dog.
In addition, you may find yourself dealing with other symptoms related to the dog attack.
Struggle With Scarring
Many patients struggle to adapt to the scars that may occur after a dog attack. While plastic surgery can, in some cases, erase many of those scars, plastic surgery may not always prove practical. In addition, some patients do not want to undergo an additional medical procedure for cosmetic reasons. Dealing with those struggles, however, can cause a great deal of shame. Some patients may avoid going out in public because of the impact of the scars.
Loss of Independence
A severe dog attack can lead to a significant loss of independence for many patients. Patients may need assistance to engage in activities they once took for granted. Their lack of independence can grate considerably, especially for people who usually consider themselves capable. Lost income and the struggles of a serious injury can make it more difficult for patients to live independently.
Many patients suffer from increased anxiety around dogs after an attack. For some, that may even mean increased anxiety around familiar pets or family members’ animals. That increased anxiety can cause challenges and struggles, especially as it interferes with daily life.
Do You Have a Lawyer on Your Side?
Trying to handle a dog bite claim alone can interfere with your ability to get the full compensation you may deserve for those injuries. Many patients find that the aftermath of a dog attack leads to a considerable struggle with the dog owner’s insurance company.
Often, the insurance company will pressure you to accept a low settlement offer that protects the insurance company or dog owner more than it protects you. In other cases, the insurance company may insist that you provoked the dog or otherwise engaged in behaviors that caused it to attack you.
On the other hand, a lawyer can help fight for the compensation you deserve, increasing the odds that you will get the real worth of that dog bite claim. If you suffer injuries in a dog attack, get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can help ensure you understand your rights and guide you through the claim process, maximizing the compensation you can recover.