FAQs About Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
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I Was Bitten by a Dog. What Should I Do?
A dog bite can be a terrifying experience if someone else’s dog attacked you. Even if your own pet bit you, there are things you need to do to protect your health, comply with the law, and preserve a possible claim for damages.
Here are five things you should do if you were bitten by a dog:
Get Prompt Medical Attention
In addition to cleaning the wound and repairing visible damage, there are four reasons why dog bites need professional medical attention right away:
Dog bites transmit more than 95 percent of all rabies cases in humans worldwide. They can pass on rabies or other canine diseases through their saliva or blood. You can also develop tetanus (lockjaw) from a dog bite. The emergency room or urgent care center personnel may ask you how long it has been since your last tetanus shot.
If you cannot remember when you had a tetanus shot, they may administer one. If it has been more than ten years (or five years for a deep or dirty dog bite), they may give you a booster shot.
Because they are puncture wounds, you cannot see all of the tissue damage from a dog bite. Well below the surface, you could have nerve damage or injuries to muscles or other tissues. You could have permanent impairment of the affected body part if these wounds go untreated.
Many dog bite victims get bitten on their hands. Hand bites have a high rate of infection because there are so many small bones, joints, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels near the surface. The dog’s teeth compress tissue and push a multitude of bacteria and other organisms from its saliva deep inside your hand when you suffer one of these puncture wounds.
As a result, the infection can develop where you cannot see it – well under the surface of your hand. Deep-seated infections can spread rapidly throughout your body and cause life-threatening systemic diseases like sepsis or meningitis.
Documentation of Your Claim
Your medical records can be vital evidence in your personal injury claim. These records can show the date of the injury and verify that, according to a medical professional, you suffered a dog bite.
Find Out if the Dog Was Current on Rabies and Other Shots
Time is of the essence after a dog bite to know if you are at risk for rabies. Verify with the dog’s veterinarian that the animal was up-to-date on its rabies and other shots. Do not accept the word of the dog owner, as they might panic and lie out of fear of legal action or that the authorities will take their pet away.
If you cannot unequivocally verify the dog’s immunization history, you might have to undergo rabies injections.
Report the Dog Bite to the Authorities
Report the dog bite immediately to the proper authorities, even if your own pet bit you. Many areas require the reporting of all animal bites. Some will quarantine the animal, regardless of its immunization history. If a stray dog bit you, reporting the incident will notify the authorities that they need to capture the animal before it bites someone else.
Get a Personal Injury Lawyer Early in the Process
A personal injury lawyer can protect you from the insurance company giving you a low-ball offer to get rid of the case before you know the full extent of your medical condition. If you take a settlement and later have more medical bills or permanent impairment, you cannot go back to get more money. Make sure you have achieved complete healing before you agree to any settlement of your claim.
Do not give a recorded or written statement to the insurance company without having your lawyer involved. Do not sign any papers for the insurance company or the dog owner without having your lawyer review them first. In all of that legal mumbo-jumbo, you might be signing away your right to compensation for your injuries.
Preserve the Evidence
Your lawyer will investigate the case and collect evidence to build your claim for compensation. These items will be useful for your lawyer in proving what happened, who should be liable, and how much you should receive for your damages:
Save receipts for medical treatment, prescription medications, physical therapy, and other relevant items.
Keep a Journal
In a journal, you can write down the pain and other symptoms you experienced from the injury. Details of doctor appointments, medical treatments, and witnesses can provide critical information about your claim. Ask your lawyer what you should and should not write in this journal.
Take photographs of the injury from several angles and on different days throughout the healing process after being bitten by a dog. Keep track of which photos you took on which days.
Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC today at 404-474-0804, to get your free, no-obligation consultation.
Is Swelling Normal After a Dog Bite?
Yes, swelling is normal after a dog bite, but increased swelling after the initial first aid can be a sign of infection. Dog bites may be dirty wounds that are prone to infection.
First Aid for a Minor Dog Bite
An animal bite, or a dog bite that breaks but does not rip or tear the skin, might be a minor wound that you can take care of at home. You can use lots of soap and water to clean the wound thoroughly. Use an antibiotic cream and keep the bite covered with a sterile bandage. Check it frequently for signs of infection, until it heals entirely.
No matter how minor the bite, you should verify that the animal was up-to-date on rabies shots. If you cannot absolutely confirm that, you should see your doctor about the risk of rabies, even for an insignificant looking dog bite.
When to Get Medical Attention for a Dog Bite
In most cases, you should seek professional medical care for a dog bite, for these reasons:
- To determine if you need to take steps for rabies prevention
- To avoid infection
- To minimize scarring and disfigurement
- To document when the injury happened and the circumstances of the dog bite, in the event you decide to pursue legal action
Even if your own dog bit you and you know the animal was current on rabies shots, you should seek medical attention if:
- It is a deep puncture wound.
- You are not sure how severe the injury is.
- You have a lot of bleeding.
- The skin is badly torn or crushed.
- The wound is in a conspicuous location that could cause disfigurement.
Warning Signs of Infection of an Animal Bite
If your dog bite injury is red, swollen, oozing, or painful, get medical attention without delay. These symptoms are signs of infection that could develop quickly into a medical crisis.
Compensation for a Dog Bite
If someone else’s dog bit you, you might have a claim and recover compensation for a dog bite. Talk to a lawyer right away. You might be eligible for damages that can include your:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
When Treatment for a Dog Bite Can Be Medical Malpractice
Although emergency rooms have protocols for the treatment of dog bites, sometimes doctors and nurses make mistakes. You might have a claim for medical malpractice if the medical professional:
- Failed to give rabies shots when appropriate
- Failed to administer a tetanus shot
- Did not clean or dress the wound correctly, and you developed an infection
- Failed to refer you to a plastic surgeon when appropriate, to prevent excessive scarring and disfigurement
How to Get Legal Help for a Dog Bite
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, we help people who suffer harm from the negligence of others. If someone else’s dog bit you or you think your medical treatment was flawed, we can help you explore whether you might have a claim for compensation.If you call us at 404-474-0804, we will set up your free consultation and case evaluation. There is no obligation, and we never charge legal fees until you get paid for your damages.
Can I get compensation for a dog bite infection?
Yes, you can recover compensation for a dog bite infection. Below, we detail how an infection from a dog bite can affect you and what you can expect to recover in a dog bite infection claim.
What damages can I recover for an infected dog bite?
Dog bites are notorious breeding grounds for infection. After a dog bite, you can develop bacterial infections like cellulitis, pasteurellosis, or capnocytophaga. These painful bacterial infections can spread through your body and cause severe tissue damage through flesh-eating strep or MRSA (antibiotic-resistant infection).
There is also a risk of contracting rabies, even though cases in the U.S. are uncommon. Rabies is often fatal in unvaccinated humans.
The damages you can recover for your infected dog bite depend on:
- The severity of the infection itself (e.g., a skin infection will likely recover less than a case of sepsis);
- How the infection has affected you;
- The treatments you have undergone
Each dog bite infection claim is different but you can expect to recover the following:
Immediate Medical Bills
A dog bite infection can leave you in the hospital for days, or even weeks, which can cause the costs to skyrocket. You can recover all immediate medical bills related to your dog bite infection such as:
- Emergency room or urgent care center bills
- The cost of your hospital stay
- Cost of dressings and ointments to use at home
- Antibiotics for the infection
- Any surgeries necessary (e.g., some infections require amputation of a limb)
You can also recover compensation for the expenses of follow-up treatment, such as regular appointments or plastic surgery to modify scars and other types of disfigurement.
We will clearly establish the link between the follow-up treatment and the dog bite infection.
In many cases, a dog bite infection will require time in the hospital or, at the very least, a few follow-up visits. If you missed work because of a dog bite infection, we will ensure your settlement offer includes any wages and benefits you lost.
If your dog bite infection required you to take a lesser-paying job or retire completely, we will ensure your settlement covers all these losses.
It is not uncommon for people to suffer nerve damage or long-term damage to skin, muscles, connective tissue, and even bones or organs after a dog bite infection. Since dog bite infections can attack the nervous system or the entire body, the long-term harm can be significant and life-changing. You might face neurological damage, paralysis, or cognitive impairment. A high fever caused by the infection can also have similar effects.
If you are suffering disabling or restrictive effects from a dog bite infection, we will demand compensation for those effects. If you are unable to work or must take a lesser paying job due to your dog bite infection, we include these losses in your demand.
These are real consequences that can mean your life will never be the same. You are not limited to only compensation for the initial medical treatment if you have suffered long-term harm as a result of a dog bite infection. These long-term damages will be part of your injury claim.
We will also demand emotional damages if your dog bite or dog bite infection caused you substantial pain and suffering or keeps you from enjoying life the way you did before.
Infections from a dog bite can be fatal. If your loved one died from a dog bite infection, we will demand compensation for:
- Funeral and burial or cremation costs
- Loss of income and work benefits
- Loss of support and services
- Loss of guidance, consortium, and community
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Call Jason R. Schultz for help today.
Do not think you need to handle your dog bite claim alone. Atlanta dog bite lawyer Jason R. Schultz is here to help. Call today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation: 404-474-0804.
Does homeowner's insurance cover dog bites?
With a few exceptions, homeowner’s insurance does cover dog bites. By design, homeowner's liability insurance pays out to cover damages resulting from the policyholder’s negligence, including many injuries sustained on the property. Rarely will an insurance policy limit the coverage provided in a dog bite case. Dog owners should always be aware of their policy limits, especially if there has been a previous incident with the same dog resulting in a claim.
Do I need to prove negligence in a Georgia dog attack?
Georgia dog bite laws outline a modified version of what is sometimes called the “one bite rule.” This statute allows strict liability for a dog bite or other attack only if the owner knew the dog had a propensity to act in a dangerous or vicious way. Usually, this requires a previous bite. If the dog has a history of similar attacks, all the victim needs to prove is that the owner was somehow negligent (e.g., left the gate open). If the victim can prove this, liability for the dog bite will fall squarely on the shoulders of the dog’s owner.
Note: If the owner is a tenant, liability will likely never fall on the landlord.
In some cases, homeowner’s insurance providers refuse to pay for a second attack by the same dog, so the dog’s owner needs to invest in an umbrella policy to cover the dog or be responsible for damages out-of-pocket.
If the dog involved in the attack has no previous bite history, the victim can still recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses by showing violation of local leash laws. These violations can include:
- An owner who leaves the dog unattended and unleashed outside
- An owner whose fence is not secure, allowing dogs to escape
- An owner who fails to control his/her dog on a walk or other outing
- An owner who fails to contain his/her dog when guests approach
What do I need to do if I suffered bite injuries in a Peachtree City dog attack?
Your health needs to come first after a dog bite. Once the dog is secure and you know you are at no additional risk, notify authorities.
Then it is time to get the medical care you need. Because dog bites have a high risk of infection, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible to clean the wounds. You should also take pictures of any injuries to properly document the damage done.
It is imperative that you find out who owns the dog and get his/her contact information before you leave the scene. Without this information, you cannot file a claim to pay for your injuries.
After your doctor treats your wounds, it is time to give us a call. We can help you navigate the insurance claims process and maximize your payout. Once we discuss your case, we contact the dog owner to learn about his/her homeowner’s insurance policy, any umbrella policies, or any other insurance that may cover your damages. Then we collect documentation of your injury-related losses and file a claim.
What type of damages can I recover in a dog bite claim?
Damages after even a seemingly minor dog bite can quickly reach five digits. Severe bite injury payouts are often exponentially higher. Not only can you collect compensation for your past and future medical care, but there are also emotional injuries to consider. Pain and suffering damages may include compensation for:
- Difficulties due to permanent scarring
- Self-esteem problems due to changed appearance
- Emotional trauma
- Fear of dogs, common after a dog bite
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Other emotional and psychological damages
After we get a good idea of your injuries and the cost of your medical treatment, we can estimate a fair value for your claim. This will include past and future lost wages and other financial losses, in addition to physical and emotional damages.
How can I enlist the help of a Peachtree City dog bite attorney?
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C., we understand how difficult it can be to know what to do after a dog attack in Peachtree City or the surrounding area. Let us work on your case and file your claim, getting you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 404-474-0804 to schedule your free, no-obligation case review with our Peachtree City dog bite lawyer.
Does renters insurance cover dog bites?
Terms and coverage vary from policy to policy, but generally, renters insurance covers dog bites as part of the policy’s liability coverage. However, some policies may have specific wording excluding liability coverage for dog bites. And not all renters have renters insurance policies. So if a dog bit you, work with an attorney to identify coverage available to help you pay for your damages, and then build a case to get the full compensation you deserve.
What if the renters insurance policy excludes dog bites?
A lot of people are unsure of the specifics of their coverage and never check if their policy covers dog bites until such an event occurs. Thus, they do not purchase a separate liability rider if their renters insurance policy excludes dog bites.
A renters policy that does not cover dog bites leaves the dog owner without applicable liability insurance if their dog bites somebody; the dog owner may thus be responsible for the victim’s damages out of pocket. Some renters insurance policies provide coverage with low limits, and will not cover all the victim’s expenses, also leaving the dog owner responsible for paying for the victim’s damages out of pocket.
What if the dog owner did not have renters insurance?
Unlike homeowners insurance, which lenders usually require homeowners purchase, many renters do not carry renters insurance. In such cases, dog owners whose dog attacks somebody may be responsible for the victim’s damages out of pocket. This might make recovering damages more difficult, but victims should consult a lawyer to explore the coverage that is available and discuss options to get compensation.
Could the landlord be liable for the dog bite?
Generally, no. Georgia dog bite laws require bite victims to prove the defendant was negligent or that the dog owner was aware the dog was vicious or had a propensity to attack. For example, proving negligence might mean proving the owner let the dog to run freely in an unenclosed space without a leash.
But under Georgia law, landlords are usually not liable for if a tenant’s dog bites somebody. There are exceptions, though, such as if the landlord’s negligent maintenance of the property or failure to correct damage to the property in some way contributed to the bite. Such cases are uncommon, but victims should discuss all circumstances of the attack with a qualified dog bite attorney.
How can I reach a Peachtree City dog bite attorney?
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, we understand how serious dog bites can be. We work diligently to secure all the evidence available to prove fault and liability. O.C.G.A. § 33-3-28 requires the dog owner to provide all information about their insurance policies within 30 days of a request. This will allow us to analyze their renters insurance or other riders to determine how to pursue compensation for your losses.
Call our office today at 404-474-0804 to schedule a time to meet with an attorney who knows how to handle your claim to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Does a dog owner have to post notice of dog on his/her property?
Georgia Statute § 4-8-27 outlines the rules that owners of dangerous or vicious dogs must abide by, those being, along with registering their pet with the state, owners must also post notice of dog (dangerous dog) signs warning others of the dog's presence on their property.
However, this rule only extends to dogs classified as dangerous or vicious. If a dog is not classified as such, the owner does not have the legal liability to warn others of their dog's presence on the property and it will be difficult to prove dog bite liability.
Defining a "Dangerous" or "Vicious" Dog
The Georgia statutes define a dangerous dog as one that has done one of the following.
- The dog has caused a substantial puncture of a human's skin by their teeth, resulting in not a serious injury but more than a minor nip or scratch.
- The dog aggressively attacks in a way that causes a person to believe that the dog poses an imminent threat to their safety or the safety of others, even if no such attack occurs.
- The dog, while off their owner's property, kills a pet animal, unless the dog is working in the capacity of a hunting, herding, or predator control dog.
A vicious dog is considered to be a dog that has inflicted serious injury upon a person who reasonably attempted to escape from the dog's attack.
When In Doubt, Ask the Owner about the Presence of Dogs
After a dog bite, you have a right to file for damages related to your injuries. The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. is here to help Georgia residents recover from dog attacks. Contact the office today to schedule an appointment for a FREE consultation regarding your legal options after a dangerous dog attack, 404-474-0804.
If I was victim of a dog attack on property that had warning signs about the dog, can I still file a claim?
There are numerous factors that pertain to dog bite lawsuits, and the existence of posting signs is only one of them. Even if you were victim of a dog attack on property that had signs posted, you may still be able to file a dog bite claim for damages if the owner was negligent in some other manner.
What You Must Prove to File a Claim for a Dog Attack on Property
While some states require victims prove only one element in order to recover damages related to a dog bite, Georgia requires two or three, depending upon the circumstances.
OCGA § 51-2-7 provides two ways that the victim and his/her attorney can prove the owner should be liable for damages.
- Dangerous dog – one option of substantiating a dog bite claim is to prove that the dog was dangerous or vicious, the owner knew about the dog’s tendencies, and the owner failed to properly manage and contain the dog.
- Dog at large – the other option is to prove that the animal was not leashed as per the local leash ordinance and the owner carelessly managed the dog or allowed it roam free. For instance, Peachtree City’s leash law provides that owners must keep their dogs on a leash at all times when off their property. If the dog was not properly restrained and attacked you, the owner can be liable for damages.
Dangerous Dogs in Georgia
Georgia law requires all owners who keep dangerous dogs to obtain a certificate of registration. Two of the legal requirements for dangerous dog owners include keeping the dog enclosed and having clearly visible warning signs where the dog resides. Even if the owner had a sign, if the dog was not securely confined, you may still be able to file a dog bite lawsuit.
Get Help from a Dog Bite Attorney after a Dog Attack on Property
If you or a loved one was injured by a dog in Peachtree City, call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz to set up a free consultation. We can explain your legal options and help you take action. Contact us today at 404-474-0804.
How common are pit bull attacks?
Many associate pit bulls with dangerous dogs, but the truth is that any dog can attack and bite a human or another dog. But because of their strong build and powerful jaw, many fear this breed more than others. But estimating how common pit bull attacks are is difficult for a number of reasons.
Why Estimating Frequency of Pit Bull Attacks is Difficult
The media often reports pit bull attacks and many statistics derive from media reports. But some attacks by pit bulls – and other breeds – go unreported. Victims might not report the attack because the dog was their own or because the dog belonged to a friend or family member.
In other cases, the media may attribute an attack to a pit bull based on appearance, when in fact the dog may be of another breed.
Are there statistics about pit bull attacks?
There are some reports of dog bite statistics in the U.S. One often-cited study about dog attacks came in 2000 and was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association. The Sacks et al. article took dog bite fatality data from media reports as well as the registry database from the Human Society of the United States. Pit bull-type dogs were involved in 76 of the fatalities, which led the way. Next was Rottweiler dogs, which were involved in 44 fatalities.
Legal Help after Pit Bull Attacks in Atlanta
Pit bull attacks – or attacks by any dog breed – can be severe and cause permanent injury, disability, long-term emotional and psychological damages, disfigurement, and death. Victims and their families have a right to pursue compensation for their injuries, and the Law Office of Jason Schultz can help.
Contact us at 404-474-0804 to set up a free legal consult if you were injured in a dog bite in Atlanta. We will discuss your options and determine if we may be able to help you obtain a financial settlement for your losses.
When is a kennel or vet liable for a dog bite?
When someone is taking care of a dog or has control over it, the caretaker might bear legal responsibility if the dog winds up attacking and causing someone injury. But what about at a vet’s office? Can a vet be liable for a dog bite?
Yes. Georgia’s dog bite rule applies not only to owners, but to veterinarians, dog kennels, and other dog handlers as well.
But Georgia has very complex dog attack liability laws and negligence elements that are rather hard for victims to prove. And, when the attack involves a vet or a kennel, it adds an additional layer or complexity to the case, making it even more challenging to pursue.
Whom can a victim hold liable for a dog attack?
When another person’s dog harms someone, Georgia law provides that the victim can seek financial recovery for damages from the at-fault party (defendant) if certain conditions apply. Usually the defendant is the dog owner, but this may not be the case if the attack occurred at a vet’s office or at a kennel.
According to Georgia Code 51-2-7, liability for a dog attack applies to dog owners and dog “keepers” alike. The party that a victim can hold liable does not necessarily have to be the owner; it can be any party (individual or business) that has control and/or custody over the dog, such as the vet’s office, a groomer, a doggie day care provider, or other dog handler.
How do I establish liability when a vet or kennel is involved?
Proving liability is challenging feat in cases that involve vets or kennels. In Georgia, there are two ways in which to pursue a dog bite claim and establish liability.
- You can establish the following three grounds: the dog was dangerous, the handler knew the dog was dangerous, and she allowed the dog to roam free or failed to properly manage it.
- You can prove the following two grounds: the dog was not on a leash or at heel (when required by local ordinance) and the handler/keeper managed the dog carelessly or allowed it to roam free. (Under this option, you do not have to proof that the handler/keeper knew the dog was dangerous.)
Why are vet/kennel dog attack cases so hard to prove?
There are several challenges that can arise in meeting some of the above grounds for filing a dog attack lawsuit or claim. Vets and kennels often refute liability using various defenses. For instance, they may say they did not know the dog was vicious or they may deny they violated a local ordinance.
There are several types of evidence that can be used for proving your case, though. A good knowledge of local dog ordinances can be helpful, as can the dog’s vet records. If the records indicate the dog had previously bitten someone, it can help prove that the dog was in fact dangerous, and that vet’s office had knowledge of the potential viciousness. If there is surveillance video at the facility, that can be instrumental to establishing liability too, e.g., footage of a worker at the kennel taking the dog for a walk sans leash, despite a leach ordinance.
It is important to note that liability may not apply if the injured person provoked the attack (for instance, if she was teasing the dog).
Can the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz help with my case?
Dog bite attorney Jason R. Schultz has helped numerous victims with their dog attack cases in Georgia, including those against negligent vets and kennels. We would be happy to review your case and see how we can help. If we are able to gather adequate proof of liability, we can help victims maximize their settlements and recover damages such as the following.
- Medical costs
- Lost current and future wages
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
Contact the office at 404-474-0804 for a free consultation.
Can I file for emotional damages if my dog was attacked by another but I was physically unharmed?
Many people have developed strong attachments to their family dogs. In fact, many people consider the dog to be a member of the family. In the event another dog attacks your dog in Atlanta or elsewhere in Georgia, you might experience long-lasting emotional trauma, especially if you witnessed the attack.
After all, for many it's like watching a family member be attacked and seriously injured. Even if you are physically unharmed, the emotional trauma of watching your beloved pet be attacked can be severe.
But you generally cannot file a claim for your own emotional trauma after a dog attacks your dog. This is because the impact rule generally requires the plaintiff have suffered physical injury in order to recover compensation for emotional distress.
What is the impact rule and does it always apply?
Generally, unless you suffered physical injury and the emotional distress arose because of the physical injury, you cannot recover damages related to emotional trauma. However, in the case Lee v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company the Supreme Court of Georgia found that a mother who suffered physical injury in a car accident in which her daughter suffered fatal injuries, was able to sue for emotional distress.
They found she could recover these damages because she witnessed her daughter's suffering, regardless of whether the emotional trauma arose out of the physical injury she, the mother, sustained herself.
Whether this would hold up in the case of a dog is a question to ask your attorney on a case consultation.
What damages might I seek if another dog attacked my dog?
If another dog attacks and injures your dog, you may be able to recover economic damages that result from the incident. This will generally include vet bills to treat the dog's injuries, as well as any medications or other expenses you experience as a result of the dog attack. Discuss the full extent of your damages with your attorney if you choose to file a claim against the other dog's owner.
If you did suffer physical injuries through a dog bite attack, you would also be able to pursue compensation for your own medical bills, any lost wages you experience while recovering, and more. You may even be able to sue for the emotional pain and suffering you experience as a result of your own physical injuries. Again, review your case in more detail during a case consultation with a lawyer familiar with dog bite cases and damages.
Contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz in Atlanta
Set up a consultation with the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz by calling 404-474-0804 or fill out our contact form. We will review your case to determine liability for your damages and which damages you may seek if you choose to file a claim.