Dog bites are more common – and more dangerous – than you likely realize. Here’s what you need to know – and how the right law firm can help.
Dog Attacks by the Numbers
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 4.7 million Americans suffer from dog bites annually. An estimated 885,000 dog bite victims seek medical attention for their injuries annually and nearly 40% require an ER visit.
Who Gets Bitten the Most?
Children aged 5-9 are most likely to be bitten, and also among the most vulnerable to attacks, given their small size and inability to fight back. Younger children may not have the experience to be wary around strange dogs or the capacity to identify when a dog is stressed and likely to bite.
What Do the Injuries Look Like?
Even a relatively small dog is capable of causing a deep wound, given the sharpness of their teeth and the power of their jaws. Younger children are also especially vulnerable to bites to the head or neck area (generally the most dangerous kind).
While in years past a rabies infection was one of the most feared outcomes of a dog bite (rabies is a potentially fatal disease), these days that outcome is much less likely, given the high inoculation rates of dogs. Infections from bites, however, are still a serious concern. While there is an urban legend of sorts about the supposed cleanliness of a dog’s mouth, up to 30% of dog bite cases can result in severe bacterial infections.
More than 100 species of bacteria have been recovered from bacterial infections caused by dog bites, including Pasteurella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. These infections need to be addressed quickly with antibiotics and other interventions.
Loss of Function
In addition to the tearing and scarring caused by the bite itself, an infected wound can lead to permanent disfigurement and serious pain and lack of functionality. Plastic surgery may be required to fix aesthetic issues caused by a bite including restoration if the bite is severe or an infection was present.
Pain, Suffering and PTSD
Dog bites can also have long-lasting emotional consequences, especially for younger people. Being attacked by a dog can cause PTSD, anxiety, stress, fear and other problems after the trauma of a dog attack. Studies show that some level of PTSD was present in up to half of all juvenile dog bite victims.
While insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability, there are some exclusions for dangerous breeds – something of which homeowners and renters should be aware. Studies have shown that dog bite liability is a nearly $900 million dollar problem annually, with the average cost of a claim coming in at around $50,000.
What to Do Next?
If you’ve been bitten by a dog and have developed significant medical or psychological issues, it’s essential that you speak with an attorney.
The right attorney should be experienced with dog bite litigation. By working with a trusted legal partner, you can be compensated for pain, suffering, trauma, disfigurement, loss of function etc. – and help get yourself on the road to recovery.