Dog Bite Injuries
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 4.5 million dog bites occur each year across the U.S., with one in five of those reported bites becoming infected and requiring medical treatment. The CDC cautions that the most frequent victims of dog bites are children (due to an unsupervised handling of the animal) and men (as dogs tend to feel more threatened by men than women).
While there are indeed certain larger breeds known to be aggressive, it’s important to know that any dog may growl or even bite if it is nervous in a new situation, startled by an unexpected movement, or threatened by someone who appears to be an intruder.
Medical and Financial Costs to the Victim
If you or a loved one have been injured in a dog attack, you may have serious and debilitating injuries including but not limited to:
- puncture wounds,
- broken bones,
- facial disfigurement, and
- wound infection.
Such injuries often require extensive medical care and/or surgery. These procedures have lengthy recovery periods which can require a person to miss work for an extended period of time or even lose a job altogether. Additionally, medical bills and expenses are likely to pile up due to the intensive care and treatment that is needed to recover from the attack.
Rabies vaccines are required for all dogs in Massachusetts, but even so, always confirm with the owner that the dog is up-to-date on his/her shots, or call your health care provider or local board of health for advice. They can help you determine if you need to be treated for a rabies exposure.
Psychological Pain and Suffering
Of course, the consequences of dog attacks are not purely medical and financial. In addition to medical care and costs, the terror and pain experienced by the victim (both during the attack and in the memory of it afterward) leaves psychological scars. This pain and suffering may be diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dog bite victims may go on to experience PTSD symptoms when they come across a dog in their daily activities. These invisible mental scars may deepen if the victim also has to deal with the social repercussions and stigma of a disfigured face or body part.
Dog Owners’ Liability
The tragic consequences of a dog bite can be prevented. It is the responsibility of the dog owner to control the animal at all times and to ensure that the animal is secured properly so that it cannot escape the owner’s property. Failure to secure a dog may lead to severe injury or even the death of an innocent victim.
In Massachusetts, the dog owner is always at fault if their dog attacks someone, whether or not the breed is known for aggressive behavior. Exceptions to this rule of strict liability are if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property, or if the victim was bitten while teasing or abusing the dog (see the Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute).
In many circumstances, a homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy carried by the dog owner will provide insurance benefits for a victim’s injuries.
Free Legal Consultation
If you or a family member have been bitten by a dog in Massachusetts and you need help getting legal recourse for your medical expenses, pain, and suffering, a personal injury attorney can help.
A personal injury claim filed on your behalf against a dog owner can help you recover compensation for all you have suffered. If you are unable to work or pay your medical bills, a personal injury claim may be necessary to cover your expenses while you heal. In addition to ensuring your financial stability in such an uncertain time, a claim can help hold a dog owner responsible for harm suffered so that they take better precautions to prevent future attacks.
When you schedule a free consultation with Attorney Peter Ventura, you will be treated with the respect and care you deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney, Peter Ventura will vigorously fight for you and protect your interests in the face of what may be difficult opposition from a dog owner’s insurance company.