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I Was Bitten by a Dog. What Are My Rights?

With warmer weather heading our way, there will be more people out with their dogs. Walking your dog is generally a fun experience in which you and your companion get exercise and socialize with others. Things can always take a turn for the worst, so keeping a keen eye on your dog at all times is essential.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, and more than 800,000 receive medical attention for dog bites.

Angry Dog

Types of injuries

Many injuries due to dog bites are localized to the hands, arms, or face. People tend to put their hands towards dogs to pet them and tend to put their faces closer as well. Many bend or kneel to smaller dogs, exposing more areas of their body to attack.

Some injuries do not involve the dog touching you but in your attempt to get away from the dog. If you are injured while running from an unleashed dog or trying to avoid a bite or other injury from a leashed dog, you may have rights. Avoiding the dog attack is undoubtedly a good idea, but you deserve rightful compensation if you are injured as a result of a canine encounter.

Who is at risk?

Those most at risk are children. Adults are often better able to read the signs that a dog may not be friendly or can see an adverse reaction from petting a dog as a sign to stop. Children may ignore these signs or be oblivious to them altogether, putting them at a higher risk for injury. Children also tend to be more aggressive with petting and may do something that scares the dog into an attack.

Regardless of age, everyone is at risk of a dog attack. Being careful, watching the dog’s signals, and asking the dog owner if it is ok to the pet are tactics to reduce your risk. The best mitigation of risk would be to avoid all dogs when you are out in public as they could get scared or nervous and attack you, even if they are generally well-behaved pets.

What are my rights?

As a pedestrian, you have the right to a safe experience outdoors when it comes to other people and their pets. Here are some considerations for your rights if in a pet altercation.

  • If a stray dog attacks you, you cannot do much in terms of a lawsuit because there is no animal owner.
  • If an unleashed dog attacks you, you may have a claim against the owner for the injuries you sustained due to the negligence of the owner in letting their pet loose.
  • If attacked by a leashed dog in the owner’s possession, you may have a claim against the owner for negligence as they should always have their pet under control.
  • If you contract a disease from a dog-related injury that is preventable with pet vaccinations and vet intervention, you may have additional options against the owner for negligence.

A lot more goes into these cases, but the above are some general ideas about your rights and the dog owner’s responsibilities.

How can I be compensated?

There are many different aspects of compensation for dog-related injury and trauma, including:

  • Medical expenses for treatment of your injuries
  • Compensation for time missed from work
  • Compensation for physical and mental pain and suffering
  • Vet expenses if your own pet was also injured

Each owner has a responsibility to keep their pet under control, especially in public when encountering other people. Many dog-related accidents can be avoided if pet owners would do the following:

  • Always keep their dog on a leash
  • Keep their pooch at a safe distance from strangers
  • Keep their pet vaccinations up-to-date and other medical needs met
  • Warn others that their dog is aggressive or skittish and should not be approached

If injured due to a dog bite, please contact our firm or call at (404) 948-3571 to discuss your options.

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