Dog bites, even those from a small dog, should be treated by medical personnel as soon as possible. Any animal bite, including a dog bite, has the potential to become infected. Furthermore, if the dog has not had its rabies shots, it could be a carrier and pass the virus on to you. While that’s rare, it can and does happen. Dog bites can also be emotionally scarring, especially for children. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, contact an Indianapolis dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
Dog Bite Consequences
In addition to the actual bite, a dog bite can have additional consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 18 percent of dog bites develop a bacterial infection. While a dog’s mouth has over 60 types of bacteria, only a few affect humans. Diseases that dog bites may cause include:
- Tetanus, which causes rigid paralysis.
- Rabies, which is rare from a dog bite but still a risk. Rabies affects the brain and is usually fatal once you start seeing symptoms, and it spreads through the saliva of an infected animal.
- Pasteurella, bacteria seen in more than 50 percent of infected dog bite wounds, causes a red infection at the bite. It may be more serious in people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include joint swelling, swollen glands, and difficulty with movement.
- Capnocytophaga bacteria is a bacteria that lives in the mouths of cats, dogs, and people. While this bacteria does not affect cats and dogs, it could spread to people through scratches, bites, or even close contact with an animal.
- MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a staph infection that is resistant to a specific group of antibiotics. Humans and dogs can carry MRSA without showing any symptoms. However, the bacteria may cause urinary tract infections, lung infections, and skin infections in people. If MRSA spreads to the bloodstream or lungs, it can become life-threatening.
If a bite is bad enough, you may see scarring of the bite area, or you may even lose your vision if the bite is near your face and eyes. If bitten by a dog, you should always get medical attention immediately and contact an Indianapolis dog bite attorney. While many dog bites are accidents, some are the result of negligence. Regardless, if you were not provoking the dog or trespassing on the dog owner’s property, a court may award you compensation for your injuries.
Who Is Responsible for a Dog Bite?
As with most cities and counties, Indianapolis has leash laws. If a dog is purposely off-leash, the owner of the dog is liable for the bite, and a court may even determine that the owner acted negligently by not preventing the bite. A dog bite lawyer will investigate the case to learn the circumstances of the incident, including whether the owner has been cited for loose dogs or in other dog bite cases, which would also help to establish negligence.
Indiana law states that if a dog bites you and you did not provoke the dog—and you had the right to be on the property where the bite occurred—the owner is liable for the dog bite. However, if the owner has knowledge that the dog has bitten someone before, the dog owner may be charged with a criminal offense, especially if the owner fails to restrain the dog and the dog attacks without provocation. However, if you are found to have been trespassing or provoked the dog, you may share in the liability for your bite.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners insurance companies paid out $675 million in claims related to dog bites and dog-related injuries in 2018. Nationally, dog bites decreased 6.6 percent, from 18,522 in 2017 to 17,297 in 2018, and the cost of the average claim was $39,017.
Damages You Might Recover After a Dog Bite
Depending on the specific circumstances of your accident, a court may award you certain damages following a dog bite incident, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost pay from not being able to work
- Pain and suffering
In extreme cases where a dog owner is negligent and knows his or her dog has a bite history or is aggressive toward people, you’re likely also eligible to recover damages. If your loved one dies from a dog attack, you may also recover financial compensation for loss of companionship, funeral and burial expenses, and medical expenses incurred by the decedent.
Avoiding Dog Bites
You can do several things to avoid a dog bite. If the dog belongs to you, be sure to keep it in a yard or on a leash if you take it out of the yard. You should never let your children, especially very young children, play with the dog while unsupervised. Because some children haven’t been taught how to properly interact with animals, they may think that it’s okay to climb on a dog, pull a dog’s hair, ears, and tail, or otherwise provoke the dog. If you have a dog and children, or if you frequently have children visit, teach the children how to interact with the dog, and teach the dog how to interact with children, to the best of your ability.
Furthermore, never walk up to a strange dog and start petting it. Always ask the dog owner first for permission. Not all dogs are friendly with strangers. Also, you should never allow your dog to approach another dog unless the two dogs know each other and have interacted before. You could sustain a bite while trying to break up a dog fight.
If a dog is loose behind a fence and in its own yard, do not stick your hands through the fence, and do not let your children stick their hands through the fence. Do not provoke the dog; just walk by and ignore the dog. Never go into a yard uninvited, especially if the owner has posted signs warning of a dangerous dog. Your actions may be used against you in a dog bite case to prove partial liability.
Contact an Indianapolis Dog Bite Lawyer
If you’ve suffered a dog bite, contact the Law Office of William W. Hurst, an Indianapolis dog bite lawyer, by visiting our website or by calling (317) 636-0808 to schedule your free consultation and discuss your case.