It's hard to find anyone who doesn't love dogs. They can be some of our most loyal companions, and the vast majority of dog owners consider them a real member of their family. But no matter how cute and lovable they may appear, and despite the fact that dog owners rarely admit that their dog would ever be capable of biting anyone, the fact is that a lot of people receive serious injuries as the result of being bitten by a dog.
Statistics from hospital emergency room visits and hospital discharge records show that about 4.5 million people – or about 1.5% of the country's total population – are bitten by dogs each year. Data collected included the victim's age and gender, the setting the dog was in at the time, whether it was restrained at the time of the attack, and whether there was any known relationship between the dog and the person it bit.
In Florida, more than 600 people every year end up in the hospital for a dog bite, and there are 2 dog bite related deaths per year, on average, in the sunshine state.
Here are some statistics regarding dog bites:
- Boys were 2.5 times more likely to be bitten than girls
- Boys between the ages of 6 and 14 were the largest segment of dog bite victims
- 26% of dog bite incidents were attributed to ‘poor behavioral management'
- 24% were due to the dog reacting in a protective manner
- 24% of victims who were older then 24-years old were bitten when trying to separate 2 or more fighting dogs
- Male victims over 15-years old were most often bitten by a dog that was unrestrained and not on the dog owner's property
Regarding ‘poor behavioral management', this refers to a dog biting a victim when there is inappropriate behavior towards the dog. This can include someone interacting with a dog when it is eating, sleeping, playing with a toy, or in some cases, bites happen when a person is just trying to move or touch a dog that doesn't want to be moved or touched.
Dogs also have a very strong desire to protect people and things it has grown accustomed to, like their owners or favorite chew toy. Serious bite injuries can occur when someone the dog does not know appears to be threatening or hurting their owner.
The most serious types of dog bite injuries involve bites to the head or facial area, which happens most often with younger children. A toddler or younger child may be just petting a dog, or in some cases playing roughly with it, and the dog's first instinct is to attack the head or face of the child. However, a large majority of dog bites – 89% - involved dogs that the victim did not know.
Dog Bite Injuries Can Change Your Life
Dog bite injuries can happen on any part of the body, and can seriously affect your life. Some of the most serious types of dog bite injuries include:
- Permanent disfigurement and scarring, usually to the head, face or neck area
- Serious infections
- Nerve, tendon, tissue and bone damage
- Mental and emotional trauma
- Rabies infection
The dog bite injury attorneys at Goldberg Noone law firm have represented many clients who have been victimized by a serious dog bite. Not only are the results of the physical injury traumatic, but in many cases the victim has a fearful distrust of dogs following the attack. It makes them nervous and anxious to be anywhere near a dog, even if it's a small, gentle household pet.
These types of emotions are something that will stay with you the rest of your life.
In a lot of dog bite cases, the victim may not know the full and lasting effects of the bite until well after the incident. You may go to the ER or walk-in clinic right away, which is always a good idea, but the scarring or long-term effects may not manifest themselves until months or even years after being bitten. As an example, if a victim is bitten on the arm and is experiencing a numbness or tingling in the arm or hand, you don't know initially how long that may last.
After a serious dog bite injury, the most important thing you can do is seek immediate medical attention. Even if you have to go to a walk-in clinic, it is important to get a record of your injuries and subsequent treatment. If your injuries are severe and you decide you want to take legal action against the dog's owner, this information will be critical to obtaining a financial settlement for your injuries.
If you are physically able, try to take photos of your injuries before you get medical help. The photos will also be a critical part of any action against the dog owner. You should also report your injury to the proper local law enforcement agency, as well as the local animal control agency. The more you can do to create an accurate record of what happened and your injuries, the better your chances of making a claim for financial compensation. Be sure to try to get the contact information of the dog's owner. A financial recovery after a dog bite injury will involve the dog owner's homeowners insurance policy, in most cases. If you hire our firm to represent you, we will negotiate aggressively with them to make sure you do not accept a low-ball offer that fails to cover even your initial medical treatment.
There are exceptions to getting a financial settlement after a dog bite injury. For example, if a person was found to have been trespassing on private property and was bitten, they would not be entitled to compensation. Other exceptions include committing or attempting to commit a criminal act when you get bitten, and whether the victim was taunting or abusing the dog in some way.
Things to Do to Reduce Your Risk of a Dog Bite
- Never leave an infant or young child alone with any dog, not even the family pet.
- Children should never approach or play with dogs unless supervised by an adult.
- Children should tell an adult if they see a stray dog or a dog acting strangely.
- Don't disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Don't look a dog right in the eyes.
- If a dog knocks you over, roll into a ball, cover your face and stay still.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Never run from a dog and never scream around a dog.
- Control bleeding and wash the area of the bite with soap and water.
- Report the bite to your local county health department, animal control agency, or police.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
(Source: Florida Department of Health)
Do You Need a Florida Dog Bite Attorney?
Until you speak directly with one of our skilled and experienced dog bite attorneys at Goldberg Noone, you will not know if you need to hire an attorney or not. We are always available to speak with you about your specific circumstances, at absolutely no cost, to help you determine your best course of action.
Once you hire our firm, your problems become our problems. You need to concentrate on healing, and on getting your life back in order. Our job is to deal with the never-ending piles of paperwork the insurance company will put in your way to discourage you from filing a lawsuit against their insured, and to fight vigorously for your legal rights to financial compensation.
We've successfully represented people who never anticipated being bitten by a dog. Even the most tranquil, well-behaved dog can suddenly bite someone, and there's really no way to determine why they do it. The precaution almost everyone has heard about “just letting a dog smell your hand first before attempting to pet them” is no guarantee you won't get bitten. Family pets can attack a child, even without provocation. If someone leans in to kiss someone who is holding their small dog, the dog may go into a protective mode, and bite the person. The old adage, “let sleeping dogs lie”, even though mostly used metaphorically, has never been more appropriate.
To read the Florida statutes on dog bites, click here.
Call our main office at 239-461-5508, or just complete this simple form, and one of our attorneys will speak with you immediately if you've been the victim of a dog bite injury.