According to a comprehensive, though somewhat dated study by the CDC, around 4.7 million Americans are bitten by a dog each year. About 20 percent of these individuals require some kind of medical attention to treat their dog bite injuries, according to the CDC. In other words, one out of every 69 people in the U.S. will require medical attention for a dog bite this year.
While nearly half of all dog bite incidents occur on the dog owner’s property, dog bite attacks can happen anywhere, and victims should know that they have rights and may be entitled to compensation after a dog bite attack. If you have been attacked by a dog in Southern Illinois or Missouri, please call Brown & Brown at 314-333-3333 or 618-888-8888 to schedule a complimentary case review with one of our experienced dog bite attorneys.
- Dog Bite Injuries
- After a Bite
- The Most Dangerous Breeds
- How to be Safe Around Dogs
- Understanding Your Legal Options
- Why Choose Us
- Contact Brown & Brown
Dog Bite Complications
One of the biggest risks posed by dog bites - even those that seem minor - is infection. According to American Nurse Today, “Zoonotic diseases—animal diseases that can be transmitted to a human—are especially dangerous in immunocompromised patients. Pasteurella multocida and Staphylococcus aureus are the most common aerobic pathogens causing infection from dog bites. P. multocida can cause soft-tissue infections, septic arthritis, and osteomyelitis.”
Physical Dog Bite Injuries
Some of the most common types of physical dog bite injuries include (but are not limited to):
- Skin wounds, including cuts, scrapes and bruises
- Torn muscle tissues
- Damaged nerve tissues
- Broken bones
- Rabies infections
- Scarring and other forms of disfigurement
- Loss of a digit or limb
Emotional Dog Bite Injuries
Some of the most common types of emotional dog bite injuries can include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Nightmares (particularly when children are dog bite victims)
- Diminished self-confidence (which can play a role in cases that involve disfigurement or extensive scarring)
Children in particular are at risk for fatal injury from dog attacks. Safety Around Dogs reports that:
- The odds of a fatal dog attack impacting a child are 7 in 10
- Severe injury from dog bites is highest in children five to nine
- The odds that a dog bite victim, in general, be a child are 3.2 to 1
- 77% of all dog bite injuries in children under ten occur to the face: lips, nose, and cheeks
Just under half of the attacks on children under the age of four involve a family pet and 61% occur at home or in a familiar place. If your child has been attacked by an animal, even if it occurred in a trusted place, it is advisable to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to learn about your rights.
The medical expenses associated with dog bite treatment can be exceptionally expensive. Add in trauma, lasting physical damage, and emotional scarring, and it becomes obvious why an attorney will be helpful in working towards the full compensation you need.
After a Dog Bite
After being bitten by a dog, you should take actions to protect both your health and your legal rights, particularly if you would like the option to file a dog bite lawsuit in the future. The following important tips about what to do after a dog bite can help guide you about the best course of action to take in order to prevent further health complications and to preserve your legal rights:
- Leave the scene of the attack immediately. Do not try to stick around and discuss the incident with the dog owner
- Contact police or animal control as soon as possible. You will want to file a report regarding the attack with the proper authorities – whether that be the local police, sheriffs and/or animal control. When reporting the incident, be sure to tell the authorities the names of all witnesses to the incident, as well as all identifying information about the dog
- Request a copy of the official incident report. After you have finished reporting the incident to the proper authorities, be sure to tell the responding officer that you would like a copy of the official incident report once it’s completed. Also, make sure you have the names of and contact information for all of the officers responding to the incident (this can be as simple as asking for a business card from each officer)
- Seek medical attention. Regardless of how serious your dog bite injuries seem to be immediately after the attack, be sure to seek medical attention right away to get an official diagnosis from a doctor. You never know if a dog has some infection that could be transmitted to you or if your apparently mild injuries may have more serious long-term effects that require more involved medical treatments
- Contact an experienced dog bite lawyer. The best way to ensure that your rights and interests are fully protected in a dog bite injury case is to work with an experienced dog bite lawyer
The following are the statutes of limitations for dog bite cases:
- In Illinois, according to 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-201 et. seq., the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit is two years.
- In Missouri, according to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 516.097 et. seq., the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit is five years.
While two to five years may seem like a lot of time, it’s still crucial that dog bite victims an attorney soon after being attacked. Although the statute of limitations may not be up for some time, waiting too long to file a dog bite lawsuit can:
- Make it far more difficult to prove a plaintiff’s case, as witnesses may not remember exactly what happened
- Reduce the amount of compensation a plaintiff may be awarded, as a plaintiff may lose medical billing documents or other paperwork necessary for proving his injuries and losses
- Ultimately reduce the chances that a plaintiff has of winning his case and securing the full amount of compensation he deserves.
So don't delay building your case. Schedule a free consultation with Brown & Brown today.
Which Breeds Bite?
As of 2017, there were 89.7 million dogs in the U.S. Any of these animals could, potentially, bite. However, the ten breeds that bite most are:
- Pit Bull
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
- Lhasa Apso
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Bull Terrier
Of course, breed popularity varies by state and it is more likely that a person will be attacked by a specific type of dog if that dog is common - think Labrador retrievers in St. Louis - in the area. St. Louis has been ranked 17th in the nation for “Pet Friendly City,” which is why dogs can be found nearly anywhere in the city. This means practicing caution around dogs and teaching that same caution to your children is absolutely essential for the prevention of dog attacks.
Being Safe Around Dogs
Safe behavior around dogs is important in helping prevent bites. This means never approaching an animal that you do not know without the express permission of the owner. Remember, even friendly-looking dogs can bite, particularly when spooked, and knowing the disposition of an animal you are approaching is important for knowing how to interact. Always talk to the owner before reaching for or touching a dog.
Train children around family dogs. Make sure your child understands safe vs. aggressive play with your animal and constantly remind him or her to be gentle. Even family dogs may attack when provoked. Teach your children how to properly interact with and play with your animals to help ensure they remain safe even when they are not with you.
As a quick reference, you can help prevent dog bites by:
- Approaching a dog only after the owner has given express permission
- Reaching out towards or touching a dog only with permission
- Playing appropriately with dogs and avoiding provocative behavior
It is also important that, when approaching a dog, you do so without fear or trepidation. Halting or jerking movements can startle and frighten an animal, provoking it to protect itself.
Understanding Your Legal Options
While each state has its own specific laws that dictate when victims of dog bites are entitled to compensation for their injuries in losses, many of these statutes – including Illinois and Missouri dog bite laws – have similar stipulations. Specifically, both Missouri and Illinois dog bite laws (Mo. Rev. Stat. 273.036 and 510 Ill. Comp. Stat., § 5/16, respectively) dictate that, in order for the victim of a dog bite to be eligible for compensation from a dog owner, the victim must be able to prove that:
- The injury (or injuries) in question were caused by the dog
- The defendant in the dog bite lawsuit does, in fact, own the dog that caused the injuries
- The victim did not provoke the dog to attack and bite him
- The victim had a legal right to be in the location where the attack occurred (i.e., on public property or on private property with permission).
For Missouri dog bite cases, the victim (i.e., the plaintiff) must also be able to prove that:
- The dog owner knew or should have known that the dog was aggressive and was likely to attack another person
- The dog owner did not take the proper precautions necessary to prevent the dog bite (e.g., keep the dog on a leash, keep the dog in a fenced-in area, etc.).
When these factors are involved in a dog bite case, the injured person can secure compensation for the following by following through with a dog bite lawsuit:
- Medical bills (including ongoing treatment costs)
- Lost wages
- Permanent disabilities
- Mental anguish
The best way to get full compensation is through legal action. Our dog bite attorneys can help. Call us today for a free consultation to learn more.
Why Choose Brown & Brown
At Brown & Brown, our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience defending the rights of those who have been bitten or attacked by dogs. We are dedicated to helping dog bite victims obtain the maximum possible compensation for their injuries and losses.
Some of the specific types of cases that our skilled lawyers have a proven track record of successfully handling include (but are not limited to) cases that involve:
- No history of the dog previously attacking other people
- Serious injuries, scarring, disfigurement and/or permanent disabilities
- Victims that are children or babies
- Dogs attacking other dogs
- Dog park attacks
- Police dog attacks
- Fatal dog attacks
Our dog bite lawyers are experienced, dedicated, and prepared to take your claim as far as needed to help you secure compensation.
Victims of dog bites have rights and our lawyers are here to help those struggling with the impact of an animal attack get justice. In Missouri, call 314-333-3333 for a free consultation. In Illinois, call 618-888-8888. We have offices in St. Louis and Fairview Heights, but will come to you if your injury makes travel difficult.