At the office of Estey & Bomberger, our San Diego dog bite lawyers love their pets. However, we also know that other people’s animals can be a detriment to society if not properly trained and restrained in public. If you have been injured by a dog bite, the dog’s owner or other responsible party may be required to reimburse you for damages and suffering. Know your rights and let us protect them.
Dog bites occur on a daily basis and can cause serious injury or trauma to children and adults. By understanding the statistics, patterns, and commonalities of dog bites, you can significantly reduce the likelihood and risk of injury. However, in the event you are bitten by a dog, it’s necessary to take important steps to ensure proper physical, emotional, and financial recovery.
Dog Bite Statistics
By examining the facts and figures surrounding dog bites, you can be better prepared for future situations and understand the extent of the issue in the United States.
- Dog bite injuries are the cause for 1,000 daily hospitalizations and emergency care admittances. 76 percent of attacks are to children.
- In 2008, the average treatment of dog bite-related injuries and subsequent rehabilitation was $18,200. This figure was 50 percent higher than the average hospital stay for other injuries.
- Rural areas account for 4 times as many dog bite-related injuries as in urban or suburban areas. This figure is due in part to the prevalence of wild, unrestrained, and untrained dogs. Generally, these dogs are more aggressive and defensive in nature.
- Dogs that bite are more likely to be male, intact, and chained up than they are to be females, neutered, or unleashed.
- 1.5 percent of the U.S. population will suffer a dog bite each year – approximately 4.5 million individuals. Of those bites, 885,000 – or 20 percent – will require significant medical attention.
- An estimated 368,000 individuals are admitted to emergency rooms each year as a result of dog bites.
- Each year, reconstructive surgery is the recommended treatment option for 27,000 dog bite victims.
- Around 5,900 bites are sustained by mail persons or letter carriers each year.
- Dog bites are the fifth most common cause of childhood emergency room visits, following motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, food poisoning, and being struck or impaled.
At their very core, dogs are wild animals with natural, aggressive instincts. While we have trained the large majority of dogs to be safe, friendly pets, these characteristics and desires can sometimes surface at inopportune times. Certain breeds are more easily provoked or naturally aggressive. Here are a few of the most common canine culprits:
Pit Bulls. This breed can be completely docile if properly trained from birth, but has a greater tendency and proclivity toward aggression if allowed. Pit bulls have their reputation for a reason; they remain the highest risk to attack, especially in males who are not neutered or encouraged to behave aggressively.
Rottweilers. Another very aggressive breed, these large, imposing dogs are responsible for the second most dog bite-related injuries and deaths. Children who stand at a similar height are especially at risk, as Rottweilers are the most dangerous when they feel confronted at face level.
German Shepherds. Most notably employed as police dogs, guard dogs, and security mechanisms, German Shepherds can be very protective. When they perceive a real or imagined threat, they often respond with aggression and violence.
Boxers. These dogs can be very lovable and safe with children if properly trained and raised from birth. However, they are often the preferred choice for dog fighting rings and are capable of behaving aggressively and violently. Many believe they are stronger and more forceful than both pit bulls and Rottweilers.
Huskies and Malamutes. Tied for the fifth most aggressive breed, these two dog types can be easily provoked and have a difficult time getting along with children or other animals. Because of their size and instinctively aggressive nature, they can inflict serious harm on victims.
Doberman Pinschers. These dogs are unpredictable and fast acting – easily provoked by children or anyone who is running. As is the case with most breeds, they usually don’t cause problems if raised by a responsible and disciplined owner.
Chow Chows. Instinctively aggressive, these dogs can be great big teddy bears or hostile pets. It all depends on how they are raised and what their surroundings are like. Though this is true of most breeds, Chow Chows have strong teeth and usually keep long claws, which can severely injure children or defenseless adults.
Great Danes, St. Bernards, and Other Large Dogs. These gentle giants rarely, if ever, act from aggression. However, injuries and fatalities can be caused by these breeds due to their sheer size. If positioned poorly, these dogs are big enough to crush a child or small human with whom they are only playing.
Hybrids. Dogs that are bred with wolves can be dangerous and unreliable. While some breeds turn out to be great domestic house pets, others are unable to curb their natural instincts of violence and aggression.
Liability Involving Dog Bites
In the majority of situations, the dog’s rightful and reported owner is responsible for the pet’s actions; however, there are exceptions. Under the following conditions, liability may belong to another party:
- The owner relinquished temporary control and care of the animal to another individual.
- The dog’s rightful and reported owner is a minor, under eighteen.
- The rightful and reported owner rents from a landlord, who knew of the dog’s dangerous behaviors and rented to the individual anyway.
- The animal was trespassing on another individual’s property and that individual did not have the animal removed.
Main Causes of Dog Bite Accidents
Understanding why dogs bite can sometimes help prevent future accidents and injuries. Here are ten primary reasons dogs bite children and adults:
- The animal feels a need to protect personal belongings like food, water, or toys.
- The animal is guarding its territory – a bed, kennel, or area of the yard, for example.
- The animal is protecting its owner or the general property.
- An individual provokes or frightens the dog unknowingly or intentionally by bothering the animal, infiltrating the animal’s space, startling the animal with noise or lights, or trying to take something out of the dog’s possession.
- The animal is old and moody, or lacks patience for children or boisterous adults.
- The animal is injured, sick, or otherwise distressed.
- The person inflicts pain onto the dog by stepping on its tail or paws, poking it, pulling its fur, or otherwise harming it.
- The animal is not aware of the difference between rough play and violence.
- The person is holding or leashing another dog and becomes involved in an altercation between the two animals.
- The dog is herding or directing children or adults with bites that are intended to be gentle, but could break skin.
Common Injuries from Dog Bite Accidents
Dog bites are dangerous, not only because of rabies and other frequently transmitted diseases, but also because of serious physical injuries that are often sustained. These include the following:
Dermal abrasions, lacerations, and punctures. When a human is bitten by a dog, he or she will likely sustain skin-level injuries. These may include punctures, tears, lacerations, and other open wounds that require serious medical attention. In severe cases, skin grafts are necessary.
Fractures or breaks due to crushing. As natural hunters, dogs have strong jaws with the ability to crush, fracture, or break human bone. In many instances, dogs latch on to arms and legs and can cause significant damage to their victims. In the most severe cases, a dog can cause damage to the back and or neck and paralyze or kill the victim.
Sprain or strain from involuntary motion. Children can be thrown or thrashed by large dogs, as can the limbs of completely sturdy adults. In these cases, dislocations and significant strain can occur. While these injuries usually don’t leave the victim with permanent damage, they can cause significant pain and trauma.
If You Are Bitten by a Dog
If you are bitten by a dog, it’s important that you follow specific steps to ensure full recovery and appropriate compensation. Immediately after being bitten, you should:
- Obtain medical treatment. Regardless of how you feel following a bite or whether or not you believe it is severe, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Often, the pain and damage isn’t fully realized until hours or days later. A medical doctor should be able to run proper tests to determine the extent of your injuries.
- Communicate with the owner of the animal. While you want to avoid being aggressive and combative, you should initiate communication with the dog’s owner to make them aware of the situation. It’s also important to gather details regarding the dog’s health and whether or not it has been properly immunized and vaccinated for dangerous infections. Finally, ask about the dog’s breed so that you can research information regarding its natural tendencies and behaviors.
- Communication with your local animal control affiliate. You can find the contact information for your city’s animal control department online. Immediately after the bite, call and report the animal and owner. The proper authorities will investigate the issue and file an extensive report, if necessary.
- Record the events. Keep a running document of everything you remember about the accident. If it was particularly traumatic or chaotic, this may be difficult. However, a running record of what you know to have happened will help your lawyer with the case.
- Involve witnesses. If possible, gather contact information and statements from anyone who saw the dog bite and can vouch for how, when, and where it occurred. In a personal conflict, an unbiased bystander can make a significant difference in the case.
- Maintain records of all medical attention. To help your lawyer represent you to the fullest, it is important to have an accurate record of all expenses that have accrued as a result of the bite. Carefully and meticulously record all medical bills for treatment, procedures, medication, rehabilitation, and other related expenses.
- Seek Representation. Do not defend your rights without representation. Whoever is deemed to be at fault will assuredly represent themselves with an experienced lawyer, and you owe it to yourself, or the victim, to take similar precautions. Not only can a lawyer protect your rights, but he or she can also provide access to valuable information, resources, and experts.
Choosing a Dog Bite Accident Lawyer
Choosing a dog bite accident lawyer should involve careful research and attention to detail. When making your decision, consider the four R’s:
Reliability. Is the lawyer knowledgeable and experienced in the field? Does he or she have what it takes to respect every integral part of your case and provide the necessary attention and focus?
Resources. Will your lawyer exhaust every option to bring your case to a desired closure? Does he or she have access to the latest information? Does he or she have the ability to obtain all animal control reports, insurance information, and medical records as necessary? Will he or she employ expert witnesses as needed?
Reputation. How is the prospective lawyer perceived on a broad scale? What do online testimonials say about him or her? Does the lawyer have a good running record of success in and out of court?
Relentlessness. Is the lawyer aggressive when working with stubborn insurance firms and uncertain juries? Will your lawyer back down in a fight?
Answering these questions will help you find the right San Diego dog bite lawyer to represent your best interests. At Estey & Bomberger, we are regularly chosen by clients for our commitment to the four R’s. We are exceptionally reliable and dependable. We have access to top-notch resources, industry information, and expert witnesses. Our reputation is unmatched by our peers, and we never back down from a challenge.
If those are qualities you are looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. Reclaim what is yours and protect your rights with Estey & Bomberger.