Although dogs are wonderful pets and companions, they can also cause serious injuries and fatalities. There are about 4.7 million dog bites in the U.S. each year with about 42 percent of these attacks occurring to children under 14 years of age. About 50 percent of these occur on the pet owner’s property.
When an injury occurs as a result, the victim or their family should consult with an experienced dog bite attorney to discuss their legal options.
Types of Dog Bites
About 90 percent of dog bites are minor and only cause bruising or scratching.
More serious bites cause deep lacerations or punctures in which surgery or sutures may be needed. Up to 10 percent of all dog bites fall into this category.
Larger dogs often attack the face and throat and small children are usually defenseless against their powerful jaws. Fatalities from dog attacks are uncommon with a recent high of 35 deaths in 2007.
Many states hold dog owners strictly liable for dog bites, meaning that the victim needs only to show that they were bitten. New Jersey law considers dog owners liable if their dog bites anyone in a public place or lawfully in a private place including the owner’s property, regardless of the dog’s propensity for viciousness. If the victim was not bitten by the dog, but was attacked and injured, then the victim must show that the owner was negligent in his ownership and control of the dog and he or she must show that he or she did nothing to provoke the dog or took any other action that could be considered comparative fault or negligence.
New York law, however requires that the victim prove that the owner knew or should have known of the animal’s viciousness, or that the owner’s negligence caused the attack and injury. The owner may be held strictly liable under circumstances where the victim is injured by a “dangerous dog,” which is defined as an animal previously determined to be unsafe or one which attacks without justification.
Before considering legal action, victims should seek the advice of an experienced dog bite lawyer to explain the legalities involved.
Problem Dog Breeds
There is no consensus or proof that some breeds are more likely to show aggression than others. Obviously, larger dogs can cause more serious harm so individuals might want to be wary of the following:
- Pit Bulls
- German Shepherds
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Doberman Pinschers
- Chow Chows
- Presa Canario
- Some mixed breeds
Surprisingly, dachshunds and chihuahuas are probably more likely to bite than the above, although the injuries are usually less severe.
- Do not approach an unknown dog.
- Never allow any dog to be left unsupervised with a child.
- Do not approach a dog that is tied up, in a vehicle, eating sleeping, or injured. Do not attempt to take something away from the animal.
- Do not stare at a dog or pet one through a fence or crate.
- If attacked, curl up into a ball and protect your face and neck and do not fight back.
When an Attack Occurs
Victims should seek medical attention immediately. Pressure should be applied to the wound and a clean bandage placed on the laceration. If unusual swelling or redness occurs, it may be signs of an infection. A tetanus shot may be necessary. Further, it is important to find out the dog’s rabies vaccine status.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a recent dog bite attack we want to hear your story. Our experienced dog bite attorneys will review the facts and assist you with your case from beginning to end. We know how to investigate and aggressively pursue accident cases.