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Dog Bite Injury

Did You Know?

About 20 people die each year in the United States as a result of dog attacks

Dog Bite Injury

There are almost 5 million dog bites per year. About 800,000 victims per year require medical treatment. 1,000 dog bite victims per day are seen in hospital emergency rooms. Dog bites cause losses that exceed $1 billion per year paid by insurance companies.

The legal rights of a dog bite victim depend on where the attack happened. Most states make the owner responsible for all bites, even if the animal has not shown any previous aggressive tendencies. In every state, any person might be liable if he or she was negligent or maintained custody or control of the animal with knowledge that it was dangerous or aggressive. In cities with a "leash law," violation may constitute negligence.

The legal rights of a dog bite victim depend on where the attack happened, meaning the state and city. The laws vary from state to state, and sometimes even from city to city.
In every state, a victim can recover compensation from:

•  A person whose negligence caused the attack

•  A person who violated a leash law or a law prohibiting dogs from "running at large"

•  A person who kept a dog with the knowledge that the dog had a history of injuring people

Here are some other facts about dog bites:

•  Children are more likely to be bitten than any other segment of the population

•  More than 40 percent of severe bite victims are children under age 11

•  More than half of all children will be victims of a dog bite by the time they reach age 12

•  Annually an estimated 5 million dog bites occur nationwide

•  Dog attacks account for one-third of all liability claims on homeowners' insurance policies. According to the Western Insurance Information Service, the insurance industry paid out more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims.

•  There are approximately 4.5 million reported dog bites annually in the United States (nearly 2 % of the American population). The majority of dog bites are never reported to local authorities.

•  Dog bites to people of the male gender are approximately two times greater than the incidence involving females.

•  Dogs that are licensed with an identifiable owner are implicated in the vast majority of dog bites (when compared with strays).

•  Dogs not known to the victim account for approximately 10 - 20% of all reported dog bites.

•  Dogs between one and five years are involved in more dog bite incidences than dogs older than 6 years. Male dogs are more frequently involved when compared with female dogs.

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document that a chained dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than an unchained dog.

•  Canines not spayed or neutered are three times more likely to bite than sterilized ones.

•  The majority of dog bites to people are inflicted to the lower extremities followed by bites to the upper extremities including the head, face and neck.

•  Ten to 20 people die every year as a result of dog bites in the U.S. By far, the majority of the victims are children.

•  The breeds most often involved in fatal attacks are Rottweilers and Pit bulls

In most states a victim can recover compensation from a dog owner because of the state's "dog bite statute." Generally, dog bite statutes make a dog owner responsible for all bites, even if the dog never bit anyone before. The fact that a dog does not have prior attacks, or that the owner has no awareness of a dog's viciousness is not determinative in a Dog Bite lawsuit.

Sometimes a victim can recover compensation from people who, at first glance, might appear to have little to do with the dog. For example, a landlord might be liable if he knows that a tenant keeps a dog that bites people, provided that the landlord has the legal power to get rid of the tenant. Or a day care center might be liable for permitting someone with a large, aggressive dog to allow it onto the premises.

Topics to Discuss with Your Dog Bite Attorney

  • What to do immediately after the attack
  • Legal rights of a dog bite victim
  • Legal rights of a rescuer
  • Should parents get a lawyer for their injured child?
  • The "one bite rule"
  • Bodily and emotional injuries
  • Free surgery for children
  • Disfigured by dogs
  • How injuries are given dollar values
  • Structured settlements
  • Injuries in dog parks
  • Electric fences
  • Landlords' rights and liabilities
  • Homeowner Associations' liability for dog bites
  • Humane society as a defendant
  • Police dogs and civil rights
  • Beware of the "statute of limitations"
  • Dangerous and vicious dogs
  • Criminal penalties for a dog bite

A person who keeps or has control of an animal may be liable for personal injury or property damage caused by the animal.  A keeper of an animal is one that "harbors, protects, or shelters" the animal.  It is not necessary that the person is the "owner."  However, an owner who retains some degree of control over an animal can be liable even if the animal is partly under the care of others.  Normally, the owner of an animal is liable only for negligence if the animal causes injury or property damage. Negligence is the failure to use ordinary care in keeping or controlling the animal.


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