A victim who sustains a dog bite can suffer immense pain and serious injuries that require emergency medical care and follow-up treatment. Dog bites can cause a victim many problems and complications. Infection is a more common and dangerous potential complication after a dog bite. Dog bite infections can cause a host of problems and affect your health. An infection can kill some victims.
If you suffer a dog bite, you must remain vigilant of any changes to your wound following the incident. If the bite begins to show signs of infection, you must seek emergency medical care to prevent your condition from worsening. Dog bites are dangerous, especially in situations when an infection develops. You may be eligible for compensation for the damages you incur from a dog bite, and a dog bite attorney can help.
Table of Contents
- Are Dog Bites Common in the U.S.?
- How Can a Dog Bite Lead to an Infection?
- Can an Infection From a Dog Bite Cause Death?
- Can You Sue for Damages After a Dog Bite Incident and Infection?
- What Compensation Might You Recover After a Dog Bite Injury?
- Do You Need to Call a Lawyer After a Dog Bite?
- What Should You Do if You Develop an Infection Following a Bite From a Dog?
Are Dog Bites Common in the U.S.?
More than 80 million dogs live across the U.S., with approximately 45 percent of households reporting having at least one dog as a pet. Dogs are common pets, and many are friendly. However, any dog can bite unexpectedly, leaving a victim with debilitating injuries. Sadly, dog bites resulting in fatalities or injuries are common in the U.S.
The CDC reports that each year in the U.S., over 4.5 million people will suffer a dog bite, and nearly 900,000 of those victims will require treatment from a doctor, with some of these cases involving infections from the bite. Although rare, dog bites can also cause the death of a victim, particularly in vicious attacks involving a large breed of dog or multiple dogs attacking at once or when a severe infection develops in the wound during the healing process.
How Can a Dog Bite Lead to an Infection?
Dog bites that puncture the skin allowing bacteria transference from the animal’s mouth to the victim’s body can develop into an infection. Once the skin breaks, the risk of infection drastically increases.
Doctors who treat a dog bite injury may prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection from developing. However, an infection may still occur. Infections from a dog bite can occur just days after the bite until approximately two weeks after the incident.
During this timeframe, a dog bite victim may experience symptoms or signs of infection, which should raise the alarm and cause concern, warranting an immediate trip to the nearest emergency room or doctor.
Once a victim develops an infection, they can experience worsening symptoms, pain, and discomfort, which can have more widespread impacts on their life, ability to work, and the costs of additional medical treatment. If an infection develops, you can seek compensation for the subsequent care needed through an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Possible signs of an infection after a dog bite:
- Fever and/or chills
- Oozing of fluid or pus from the wound
- Worsening pain and discomfort
- Streaks that develop near the area of the bite
- Loss of feeling or mobility in the area or joint near the bite
Can an Infection From a Dog Bite Cause Death?
The most common infection from a dog bite is a capnocytophaga infection. This dangerous infection occurs when the saliva of an animal that carries the bacteria comes into contact with an open wound of a dog bite victim. Approximately 30 percent of victims who develop this particular infection will succumb to it and lose their life.
Another potentially deadly infection, although less common, that can arise after a dog bite is a rabies infection, where treatment must begin immediately to prevent the likelihood of fatality of the victim.
Therefore, it is entirely possible for a dog bite infection to ultimately lead to the victim’s death. Dog bite fatalities may occur because of the severity of the injuries when a dog attacks the victim. Still, it can also occur from even a minor bite where the skin breaks and bacteria enter the victim’s body causing infection and complications.
Can You Sue for Damages After a Dog Bite Incident and Infection?
An individual who sustains a dog bite may be able to file a claim for their injuries and damages under the law. The laws on dog bites and liability vary in each state. However, in most states, dog bites are strict liability cases. Strict liability is when the owner of a dog is automatically liable for the injuries caused by their dog if they bite and cause injuries outside of a few exceptions.
Exceptions to dog bite liability statutes often apply in cases where an individual provoked the animal or was on the property of another without their consent. Some states may have first bite allowances where the statute requires that an owner be aware of the dog’s dangerous propensities before becoming liable for the harm the dog causes. However, in several states, any time a dog attacks and causes an injury through a bite to a victim, the owner is responsible for the damage the pet causes.
While a lawsuit may seem like what might make the most sense for seeking compensation as a dog bite accident victim, the reality is that in most cases, a victim can seek money through an insurance claim. Many property insurance policies, such as homeowner’s and renter’s insurance, cover dog bites to guests on the insured’s property.
A dog bite injury attorney can help you understand the laws that apply to dog bites in your state and determine your best options for seeking compensation, whether through an insurance claim or by filing a lawsuit directly against the dog owner under negligence or strict liability laws.
What Compensation Might You Recover After a Dog Bite Injury?
Establishing the damages of a dog bite injury, including an infection, may be more difficult than expected. Figuring out what you can claim as part of a dog bite damages insurance claim can be challenging. First, insurance companies will not tell you what you can claim as a loss. Furthermore, having the right to file a claim does not mean the insurance company will approve the claim or pay a fair value for your losses.
Dog bite attorneys know the laws that apply in each state and the process of filing a claim for you for the maximum damages available. When you hire a dog bite lawyer, they will help you calculate your damages and gather the evidence necessary to prove those damages through a claim or in court if necessary.
Examples of damages that may be available in your dog bite claim include:
- Medical expenses for treating your dog bite, any infection you develop, or other complications.
- Income losses, including future impacts on your income and earnings
- Compensation for your pain and suffering, including mental and emotional distress and your physical pain
- Reduction of quality or enjoyment of your life due to disability, scarring, or disfigurement
Do You Need to Call a Lawyer After a Dog Bite?
Dog bites present a number of legal issues, and as a dog bite victim, you can face many obstacles as you seek justice and get the compensation you need to help you through your recovery and compensate you for damages. A lawyer can help you gather the evidence necessary to prove your injuries and the subsequent damages you incur because of a dog bite attack.
Additionally, a lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to attempt to reach a successful settlement with the insurance company or advise you if further legal action may be necessary. You should call a lawyer after you suffer a dog bite as soon as possible. Insurers and the dog owner may try to settle your case quickly or make it difficult for you to know how you should proceed. Hiring a dog bite lawyer that works for you ensures you protect your rights.
What Should You Do if You Develop an Infection Following a Bite From a Dog?
If you are in the unfortunate situation of suffering a dog bite that then develops into an infection, there are steps you can and should take to protect your legal rights and ensure you are doing everything you can to heal from the painful dog bite injury and subsequent infection.
Dog bites that turn into an infection are dangerous and potentially life threatening. A victim’s health and medical condition can quickly deteriorate, requiring immediate medical attention. What you do in the aftermath of a dog bite and when you realize you have an infection can affect your potential insurance claim and the compensation you may be eligible for.
Continue Your Medical Treatment
After a dog bite, you will likely receive medical treatment and an evaluation of your injuries. However, your medical care and follow-up should not end there. Dog bites require constant monitoring to identify if an infection develops. Additionally, if you develop an infection, you must continue to see your doctor as prescribed. Go to all follow-up appointments.
If you feel that your condition is worsening or notice worrisome changes in the appearance of your bite or the symptoms you are experiencing, do not hesitate to return to the nearest emergency room for further evaluation and medical care. Infections can persist, and some may resist initial treatments or medications prescribed, requiring a change in your treatment or more intensive measures by your medical providers to prevent further harm to your body.
Keep a Journal of Your Progress
A helpful tool to help you track your progress that can also become beneficial as part of a compensation claim is a journal of your healing and recovery after a dog bite. You can jot down notes about how you feel, photos of your injury, and any drawbacks or complications, including infection and other consequences of the injuries on your health and emotional or mental well-being.
Journaling can help you later in your case when recalling details, and dates may become harder as time passes. Include dates, medical procedures, your pain levels, and information about how your injury affects your daily life.
Collect Evidence to Help Your Claim
Filing a claim for a dog bite injury will require evidence of the bite, how the bite occurred, and the injuries you sustained. As you go through a difficult time after a dog bite and try to heal and manage your painful injuries, you may begin to accumulate records, reports, bills, and other information that can help you with your claim and case.
Set an area where you can gather all the evidence available for safekeeping until you may need it as part of your case. If there is any evidence you know you cannot access or are having trouble retrieving that may help your case, mention it to your lawyer when you meet. A dog bite attorney can help you gain access to critical evidence or information that may help you prove your damages and injuries.
Contact a Lawyer for a Free Consultation
A dog bite is not a matter of just filing a claim and getting paid for your losses. Dog bites that lead to infections can cause significant monetary losses and impacts on your life that can cause you more difficulty if you cannot seek the money you need.
Insurance companies can make it hard for victims to get the compensation they may be eligible for under the law. Medical bills, missed work, and future impacts can seriously affect your life and your family’s life. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia for a free case consultation if you suffer an injury in a dog bite incident.