Compensation for Dog Bites

Compensation for Dog Bites

Dogs are often our constant companions—valued members of our family and lifelong friends. But as close as we sometimes become to them, dogs are still animals that can become scared, defensive or even vicious. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of those, more than 800,000 receive medical attention. Half of the victims are children.

Dog bites range in severity from a painful snap to a life-threatening or even deadly attack. A dog’s breed or size doesn’t determine if it will bite. Instead, it is the dog’s temperament, as well as factors like whether it feels defensive or sick. Even a happy dog can give a playful nip that results in an injury. 

So what should you do if you’re bitten by a dog? And if you’re injured, what compensation are you entitled to?

What should you do after a dog bite? 

Dog bites, even minor ones, are often traumatic. In the moment, it can be hard to remember what to do. If you or your child is bitten by a dog, you’ll want to:

  • Get the name, contact information and proof of rabies vaccination from the owner (if the owner is present). Thanks to vaccination laws, rabies in domestic dogs in the United States is incredibly uncommon. However, because rabies is deadly and requires urgent treatment, it’s critical to determine if the dog is protected. 
  • Clean the wound with soap and water and call your family doctor or pediatrician. Your physician will likely want to check the wound and may prescribe antibiotics if there is any sign of infection. 
  • If the injury is serious, go to the emergency room. Dog bites can result in blood loss, internal damage and nerve damage. 
  • Contact your county’s animal control office to report the bite. An animal control officer can often follow up with the dog owner and confirm the rabies vaccination. They will also check to see if the dog has any previous history of attacks. 

Dog bite damages 

Owners are typically held liable for the injuries their dogs may cause. However, in Georgia, not every dog bite qualifies for damages. As a “negligence” state for dog bites, the victim must show:

  • That the owner knew the animal was vicious
  • That the owner was careless (for example, didn’t follow leash laws or let the dog run free)
  • That the injured person didn’t provoke the dog

In cases where the owner is considered negligent, he or she can be held liable for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income and property damage. If the owner was especially careless with his or her animal, punitive damages are also possible. 

Dog bites can be complicated, so medical bills are often more extensive than a single co-pay or prescription costs. Dog owners can be held responsible for hospital expenses, surgery, physical therapy and psychological treatment. Bites can also lead to a debilitating fear of dogs. In extreme cases, a victim may even experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Visible scarring or nerve damage sometimes makes daily living a challenge. While it’s hard to put a monetary figure on pain and suffering, an experienced Macon injury attorney can help.

Macon Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been hurt by a dog, you need a lawyer with experience handling dog bite cases. The Macon personal injury attorneys at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill will help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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