Injuries from dog bites are common in the United States, but they can cause victims to endure significant pain and suffering. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are over 300,000 emergency department visits each year for injuries from dog bites. While some dog bites do not cause significant injuries, others cause victims to suffer lasting pain and other physical and emotional symptoms. If you suffered injuries or losses from a dog bite, consider speaking with a knowledgeable, compassionate lawyer at The Mark Casto Law Firm at (706) 940-4030 to understand how we may be able to help you with your case.
The Importance of Seeking Medical Attention
If you are the victim of a dog bite, you should seek medical attention immediately. You may feel that your injuries from dog bites are not serious, but there are two important reasons to receive medical evaluation and treatment.
First, you should receive medical care for your own health. Adrenaline or the shock of the dog bite incident can mask pain and other symptoms, causing injuries to go untreated. Dog bites can also transmit deadly viruses such as rabies or cause infections and should be treated promptly to minimize the risk of severe complications.
Second, timely medical evaluation and treatment can help create a foundation for a personal injury claim. Insurance companies, the owner of the dog, or other liable parties may try to blame injuries from dog bites on pre-existing conditions or other incidents. Medical records can help document injuries after the dog bite occurred, helping to prove that they were caused by the dog bite.
Questions to Ask After Dog Bites Occur
Victims may want to consider several questions following dog bites to ensure their safety and evaluate their options:
- Are the dog's vaccinations current, including the rabies vaccine? Knowing the dog's immunization history can help the victim's healthcare providers identify potential risks and make better-informed decisions regarding diagnosis and treatment.
- Does the dog bite victim have pre-existing medical conditions? Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, immune system disorders, and cancer can put victims at a greater risk of infection following injuries from dog bites.
- Who owns the dog? Identifying the owner of the dog can help victims gather information on the dog's background and identify any liable parties in case a personal injury or insurance claim is warranted. If the victim is also the owner of the dog, someone else usually cannot be held liable for injuries from dog bites.
- What were the circumstances of the dog bite? Under the state of Georgia's Responsible Dog Ownership law, many factors can influence whether a dog's owner is liable for injuries from dog bites. Where the dog bite occurred, whether the dog was under the control of a person at the time of the bite, and even the victim's behavior leading up to the incident can impact the outcome of an insurance or personal injury claim.
- Did anyone witness or document the dog bite? Witness testimony, photos, or video can help substantiate the cause of the dog bites and the victim's injuries. Video footage may even be available from nearby surveillance cameras on homes or businesses.
Types of Injuries From Dog Bites
Victims suffer a wide range of injuries from dog bites. Some common injuries include:
- Lacerations, or deep cuts to the skin
- Puncture wounds caused by a dog's teeth
- Broken bones
- Neurological damage, especially in the arms, hands, or face
- Soft tissue damage to muscles, tendons, or ligaments
- Infections caused by bacteria found in the dog's mouth
- Transmission of rabies, a life-threatening viral infection
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional trauma, anxiety, or PTSD
- Injuries sustained while escaping a dog's attack
If you are the victim of a dog bite in the state of Georgia, a compassionate attorney at The Mark Casto Law Firm may be able to help you understand your rights and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries and suffering.
Seeking Compensation For Injuries From Dog Bites
Under Georgia's Responsible Dog Ownership Law, the following factors may be considered in determining whether the owner is liable for injuries from dog bites:
- The owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous, meaning that it had previously caused a substantial puncture of a person's skin, aggressively attacked a person or killed another pet animal on someone else's property.
- The dog was not restrained on a leash or was roaming free, which may violate county or municipal laws. The state law requires that all dogs classified as dangerous be restrained on a leash or contained in a locked crate when not on the owner's property, unless they are working or training in a hunting, herding, or predator control capacity. Owners could still be liable for a bite caused by a leashed dog if they failed to control the dog sufficiently.
- Whether the dog was provoked can also impact the owner's liability for injuries from dog bites. If the victim was taunting or abusing the dog, or trespassing on the dog's property, it could reduce the owner's liability to some degree.
Types Of Possible Compensation
Victims of injuries from dog bites may be able to seek many types of compensation for their losses and suffering. Victims may be able to seek compensation from an insurance company through a homeowner's, renter's, business's, or umbrella insurance policy. Victims may also be able to file a personal injury claim against the dog's owner in civil court. Victims could receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses for injuries from dog bites
- Lost wages due to time away from work for treatment and recovery
- Noneconomic damages for pain and suffering
- Punitive damages intended to punish the owner for negligence that led to the dog bite
How a Lawyer Can Help You
Victims of injuries from dog bites may feel overwhelmed at the thought of dealing with insurance companies and filing a personal injury claim. An attorney can help victims gather facts and evidence, negotiate insurance settlements, or build and bring a personal injury claim to civil court. If you suffered injuries from dog bites in Georgia, consider speaking with an attorney at The Mark Casto Law Firm at (706) 940-4030 to understand how we may be able to help you seek fair and just compensation under the law. Contact us today!