According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are an estimated 70 to 80 million dogs owned in the United States. While dog ownership provides many benefits to humans and our canine companies alike, dogs also have the potential to cause serious injury when they bite. Dogs have extremely powerful jaws that can exert hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch, potentially doing serious damage to human tissues. Fortunately, state law often allows people who are bitten by dogs to recover for their medical expenses and other associated expenses. To start the process of making a claim, victims should discuss their case with an experienced personal injury lawyer in their state.
Dog Bites can Cause Serious Complications
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximate 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. While the initial injury associated with a dog bite can often be extremely painful and cause other issues, sometimes what is more concerning to victims are the complications that can develop as a secondary result of the initial attack. These can include the following:
Neurological damage – Nerves do not regenerate as well as other human tissues, and dog bites that cause neurological damages may result in numbness, tingling, or even the loss of mobility in certain parts of the body.
Infection – Contrary to popular belief, dogs’ mouths are not actually more sanitary than our own. The reality is that dogs’ mouths contain millions of bacteria that could potentially infect a wound. In some cases, an infection develops long after a bite has occurred but while a wound is still healing.
Emotional trauma – A dog attack can be a traumatizing experience. For some people, an attack may trigger an emotional response that significantly affects their lives. Some may develop a fear of dogs that keep them from enjoying activities they once enjoyed, due to the ubiquity of household pets. These and other emotional issues may be compensable through a personal injury case arising from a dog bite.
The laws regarding dog bite injuries can be complicated and vary greatly from state to state. Consequently, anyone who has been injured in a dog bite should discuss their case with an experienced lawyer in their jurisdiction. Contact Gabriel Levin, Esq., and The Levin Firm to find out how to best proceed. Call (215) 825-5183 so we can help protect you or your loved one’s rights and interests.
While millions of households own dogs throughout the United States, dog bites may seem like a relatively rare occurrence. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 about 4.5 million individuals are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S. In many situations, the emotional shock of the dog bite is worse than the physical wounds, which can be relatively minor bruises or scratches. However, other dog bite victims may sustain deep cuts, puncture wounds, fractured bones, or muscle tears as a result of the incident.
Most people with serious dog bite injuries seek medical treatment, though individuals with seemingly minor injuries may simply bandage their wound and go on with their lives. However, any time a dog bite breaks the skin–even if it seems minor–there is a risk that a serious infection may develop. In fact, the CDC reports that one of five dog bite wounds will become infected. Infection can be a serious and even deadly complication of a dog bite and can lead to the need for extensive medical treatment. Because dog bite infections can be so dangerous and costly if they go untreated, it is always best to have your dog bite checked out by a medical professional even if the wound does not seem serious.
Why Infections Develop
Whenever a dog bite breaks through the skin, bacteria has a path into the body through the wound. Bacteria that penetrates the skin can be from the dog’s mouth, your own skin, or from the outside environment. In shallow wounds, proper and thorough cleaning of the wound may be enough to prevent infection. However, canine teeth can lead to wounds that are narrow but surprisingly deep and most people do not realize how deep their wound may be. Bacteria can travel down and live in the bottom part of the wound, which can make it very difficult to sufficiently clean out the bacteria. Furthermore, if the top layer of the wound on the skin heals, bacteria will be trapped inside the deeper part of the wound. In such a situation, you may believe that your wound is healed while an infection may be spreading below the surface.
Signs and Symptoms of Infections
Because you cannot actually detect bacteria living in your dog bite wound, you should always be aware of the different signs and symptoms that an infection may have developed. Such symptoms can include:
If you experience any of the above symptoms or anything else out of the ordinary following your dog bite, you should immediately seek a medical evaluation. A doctor can perform blood tests and x-rays to diagnose an infection. You may be prescribed antibiotics or require a tetanus shot. If the infection has already progressed, you may need to be admitted to the hospital. If left untreated, however, your infection may spread into your soft tissue or bones or sepsis may develop, which can be fatal.
Because of the risks of infection, it is best to be on the safe side and visit an emergency room or doctor as soon as you can after a dog bite. Medical professionals will know how to properly clean the wound to remove bacteria and can advise you on how to care for the wound to prevent additional bacteria from entering the body.
Recovering for your Losses
Dog bites can result in many different complications, including infection, scarring, disfigurement, and even permanent impairment. Many victims of severe dog bites require emergency medical attention, hospitalization, reparative or restorative surgery, medications, and more. Not surprisingly, dog bite victims and their families can incur substantial financial losses. These are in addition to any physical or emotional suffering that resulted from the traumatic experience and the serious injuries. Fortunately, if your dog bite injuries were severe, Pennsylvania law2 allows you to hold the dog bite owner strictly liable for the actions of the dog and seek compensation from the owner for all of your losses.
Consult with a Philadelphia Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you incurred medical expenses and other losses as a result of your dog bite, you should not hesitate to discuss your rights and options with an experienced Philadelphia dog bite attorney. At The Levin Firm, we have represented the rights of many dog bite victims, so please call us for free at 215-825-5183 to learn more about how we can help you today.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports  that pets are present in more than 83 million homes in the United States and that an estimated 4.5 million people sustain a dog bite on an annual basis.
Dog attacks can be sudden, unexpected, and terrifying. Victims are often left shaken or even traumatized by the sudden act of violence and the pain resulting from their bite wounds. It is understandable that victims may not know what to do immediately following a dog bite incident, however, failing to take certain steps can significantly impair your chances of obtaining the full financial recovery you deserve from the liable dog owner.
Like any other type of accident and injury, there are certain steps you should take to improve and preserve your chances of obtaining compensation for all of your injury-related losses. The following are only some examples of what you should do if you or your child sustains injuries from a dog bite.
Under Pennsylvania law,  dog bites victims are entitled to compensation for their medical costs following a dog bite, whether or not the injuries caused by the dog were serious. For this reason, anyone who sustains a dog bite should not hesitate to undergo a full medical evaluation as soon as possible after the attack.
If emergency personnel state you require emergency treatment, you should heed their advice and allow them to transport you to the nearest hospital or medical center. Even if you do not need to go in an ambulance, you should head to the emergency room or doctor as soon as possible after the dog bite occurred. This is the case even if you believe that your injuries are minor and can be treated at home. Dog bites can lead to many complications and infections and it is highly important to have medical professional evaluate your injuries and perform tests. In addition, the records from your evaluation can serve as important pieces of evidence when trying to demonstrate that you sustained serious injuries and deserve additional compensation.
If you are able to remain at the scene of the dog bite for a period of time and the owner of the dog is present, you should get information from them including their name and contact information. It is important that your attorney be able to identify and locate the owner of the dog so that you know against whom to file a legal claim, if necessary. If the dog is not with an owner, you should see if anyone n nearby homes recognizes the dog. Taking a photo of the dog—whenever possible—can help to identify the owner. If you are unable to seek out the owner due to your injuries, see if anyone else can help you do so.
It is always wise to call and report the incident to the police following a dog bite. Law enforcement officers will arrive on the scene and will take down your version of the events that occurred leading up to the dog attack. The officers will then file a police report, which can serve as an official record of the attack. If the report assigns fault to the dog owner, it can only help any subsequent legal claim.
In addition to information for the dog owner, you should also collect contact information for any individuals who witnessed the attack. Witness testimony can be extremely important in a dog bite case, especially when the dog owner is accusing you of provoking the dog. A witness can provide support for your side of the story, which can be very helpful in demonstrating negligence on the part of the dog owner.
In addition to witness information, it can be helpful to gather any other seemingly relevant information at the scene, if possible. Take photos, note any conditions that may be out of the ordinary or may seem important to establish the events that occurred.
As soon as you have sought medical attention and your injuries are stabilized, it is critical that you consult with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney who understands the dog bite laws in our state. At The Levin Firm, experienced dog bite attorney Gabriel Levin has represented the rights of many different dog bite victims. We offer free consultations and can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call today at 215-825-5183 for assistance.
Getting bitten by a dog can be a frightening experience that can also cause severe injuries. Statistics published  by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that an estimated 4.5 million Americans suffer dog bites on an annual basis and approximately 885,000 people require medical attention for their bite-related injuries. To make matters worse, about half of dog bite victims are small children.
Dog bites can cause emotional trauma as well as serious physical injuries and disfigurement. The CDC reports that over 27,000 dog bite victims required reconstructive surgeries to correct disfigurements. Fortunately, Pennsylvania statutes allow certain dog bite victims to recover for their injury-related losses from dog bite owners by filing a personal injury claim.
When is a dog owner liable?
First of all, dog owners in Pennsylvania are required to have their dogs confined and under reasonable control at all times. This means that when they are outside with their dog, an owner must use a leash, fence, chain, or other device to keep the dog on the premises. This is intended to prevent dogs from straying and biting others while unsupervised. If a dog owner violates the confinement statute and the dog bites another person, the bite victim can hold the owner liable for their losses under the legal doctrine of negligence per se .
In addition, a dog owner may be held liable under the state’s Dangerous Dog statutes . Under these laws, a dog is considered to be dangerous if one of the following applies:
If the dog is known to have a history of or propensity for attacking other people or animals, the dog will be considered dangerous. Owners of dangerous dogs must take the following actions:
If the owner of a dangerous dog acts in a negligent, reckless, or intentional manner and the dog bites another person or animal, the owner can be held both criminally responsible and liable for all losses suffered by victims in civil court.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports1 that approximately 4.5 million Americans sustain injuries as the result of a dog bite each year. While the large majority of these bites result in minor bruises or scratches, about one in five is serious enough to require medical attention. Many breeds of household dogs have extremely powerful jaws that have the potential of causing serious damage to the human body. Certain groups, such as small children or older adults, may be more at risk of experiencing complications associated with dog bites than others. Fortunately, laws exist in all 50 states that allow victims bitten by dogs to recover for their losses, which may include medical expenses, lost income, and physical and emotional pain.
Common complications associated with dog bites
While dog bites can be serious injuries in and of themselves, they can also result in complications that can greatly increase their severity. Some of the more common complications that may arise after a dog bite include the following:
Infection: Contrary too popular belief, dogs’ mouths are not cleaner than those of humans. There are millions of bacteria in a dog’s mouth at any given moment, which could easily be transferred into a person’s wound in the event of a bite. Furthermore, as with any wound, a dog bite has the potential of becoming infected from other sources as well.
Neurological issues: If a dog bite severs or damages nerves in a person’s limbs or extremities, victims may develop loss of mobility or feeling in these areas. In some cases, paralysis may even result.
Traumatic brain injury:Traumatic brain injuries2, or TBIS, occur when a bump or blow to the head results in a disruption in normal brain function. In the context of a dog bite, TBI could occur if a dog attack knocked a victim over or bit the victim’s head.
Loss of limbs or extremities: Dogs’ jaws are extremely powerful and could potentially bite through a person’s fingers or other extremities. Additionally, in some cases, the damage done to a limb by a dog bite may be so severe as to require removal of the limb. Finally, in some cases, an infection that develops as a secondary complication of a dog bite may also necessitate amputation.
Victims of dog bites may be eligible to obtain significant financial compensation for their losses. The best way to ensure that you get are fairly compensated for your injuries is to discuss your case with a dog bite lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.
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