When Dogs Bite: Understanding Your Rights to Personal Injury Claims

When Dogs Bite: Understanding Your Rights to Personal Injury Claims

You may have seen the news about a Home Depot customer in Colorado who was bitten in the face by a dog brought into the store by its owner and, ironically, a dog trainer. The customer was seriously injured and while employees were taking care of her, the owner and trainer were quickly exiting the store. These days, horrific news of dog attacks are far from isolated incidents. A 22-year-old dog sitter in Texas was attacked by her clients’ pets, nearly losing her life and requiring total facial reconstruction. In another incident, a young man died from injuries sustained in a dog attack. These are just a few of the many stories recently surfacing in national news outlets.

There is no denying that ours is a dog-loving culture. Dogs are the most desired pets in the country, with 44.5% of households owning a dog according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). That equates to about 65 million U.S. households and 85 million dogs. And, in a Forbes Advisor survey, the recent lockdowns only raised that number with 78% of pet owners surveyed reporting they acquired a pet during the pandemic. Dogs are not just seen as pets. The AVMA reports that 85% of dog-owning households consider their pet to be a member of their family.

It’s clear that dogs and humans share a special bond, and dogs can and do provide much-needed companionship and emotional support. But owning an animal that has the capability of inflicting injury, such as a dog, also brings with it the important duty and responsibility to properly care for and train them.

A dog of any size or breed, not just big or ones more “aggressive” by nature, is capable of biting. The chances of a dog causing injury to a person increases with its owner’s negligence in failing to properly train or supervise the dog, or intentionally training the dog to be aggressive. Dogs do not only bite out of aggression. They may also bite out of fear, pain or from simply being in an unfamiliar situation.

According to the CDC, injuries from dog bites or attacks happen more often than you might think, equating to about 4.5 million dog bite reports each year. And, of that number, over 800,000 required medical care.

What can be done? As a dog owner, make sure your dog is properly trained and supervised when around people. As someone who may encounter a dog you don’t know well, avoiding close contact is the safest route especially if the owner is not present. If you do suffer a dog bite, it is important to treat the wound quickly and have your injuries evaluated by a medical professional. If you or a loved one sustains injuries from a dog bite, you may have a legal right to recover damages. For more information, contact a personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite cases.

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About The Author

A seasoned trial attorney, Attorney Wickenheiser has advocated for victims and their families injured because of medical malpractice, nursing home death, pharmaceutical liability, and product liability. She focuses her practice on representing those who have suffered catastrophic injury and has successfully negotiated numerous settlements, many over a million dollars. She has received many prestigious awards and recognitions. Attorney Wickenheiser is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts.