Dog bites can cause life-threatening injuries. Even small dogs can render a victim powerless and inflict serious harm. Depending on the breed, nature, and temperament of the dog, the bite can be fatal. Most states hold the owner liable for all damages when it is clear that the dog attacked without provocation. Some states disregard any provocation of the animal and hold the dog’s owner responsible in all situations. There are also instances where the animal is in an unrestricted setting or has escaped from its restraints, resulting in a dog bite on another individual’s property. Determining absolute liability can be a problem when the attack occurs as a combination of factors. Following are a few points of consideration if you’re ever the victim of a dog attack.
1. Medical Care
If you’ve suffered a dog bite, you have the right to file a claim against the dog’s owner to cover medical bills associated with the attack; and he or she may also be liable for more damages based on case evidence. In a particularly vicious attack, the dog may inflict multiple wounds and leave extensive damage requiring long term care.
An assessment of the dog’s health may dictate the regimen of care you receive. For example if the dog is unwell, or worse, if it is rabid, you will have to undergo a round of injections to avoid contracting rabies. Sometimes the treatment can be worse than the actual bite injury. After securing the medical attention you need, the next step is to find a good personal injury lawyer. You may find the legal advice you need at websites such as http://www.maryland-injury-lawyer.com/.
2. Financial Concerns
If, because of your injuries, you experience a prolonged absence from work, you may also be entitled to compensation from the dog’s owner. A claim for compensation could include loss of wages and reimbursement for basic expenses.
3. Dog-bite Laws
Some dogs are classified as vicious breeds, and many states have strict liability laws to deal with their behavior. In states with strict liability laws, a dog owner is automatically held liable for his dog’s actions. In states with more lenient statutes, the dog’s owner is not liable the first time the dog bites someone. If the dog has exhibited aggressive behavior in the past or is classified as a vicious breed, the one-bite law may not apply.
4. Dog Owner Issues
Courts in most states will take into consideration the negligence or carelessness of the dog owner when determining liability. Did the owner keep the dog on a leash? Was the dog properly confined? Did the owner take precautions to protect guests based on his prior knowledge of the dog’s temperament? Did he make sure the dog had annual rabies and associated inoculations?
Most domesticated dogs are friendly, gentle and safe—around their families. Even if you’re visiting a relative with a dog, use caution and wisdom when approaching him. Don’t try to pet him unless he’s aware of your presence. Don’t run if he startles you because he’s likely to give chase. Never try to pet a dog who’s eating or sleeping. Allow the dog to become accustomed to your presence and only play with or pet him when the dog’s owner is around.
Writer LaGeris Underwood Bell is both a homeowner and a dog lover and shares this article to help guide dog bite victims through the process of financial and physical recovery. The Maryland legal team of Price Benowitz LLP has decades of experience handling personal injury cases like these. Their record of success is rock solid, and they offer sound legal advice in cases of dog bite injury for any client.
Photo credit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10064.pdf