Dog bites are among the most painful injuries you can suffer. Yet dog bites are preventable. When a dog bites or scratches someone it usually happens because the owner is not in control of the animal. When a dog bite punctures the skin the injuries can be very serious. The wound requires special care and if it is deep, stitches will be needed. The dog owner must verify that the dog has received the necessary shots, specifically a rabies vaccination. If not, the dog may need to be put under observation to ensure that it is healthy. Animal wounds can be difficult to treat and often cause lifelong scars.
According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million people suffer from dog bites each year in the United States. Other injuries may include scratches or being knocked down by a dog. In South Carolina, the law provides strict liability for dog bites. This means that owners are responsible for injuries even if this is the first incident of their dog biting someone. Generally, the owner is responsible for the injury if the dog was not on a leash, was not contained, or was not being properly supervised or controlled.
Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
Dog bites can range from minor nips and scratches to major assaults that can cause long-term harm. Common injuries occur to the hands when owners try to pull attacking dogs apart. Other times, a dog may bite someone as they reach down to pet it. Dogs can clamp onto the body when biting, making it difficult to release. When this occurs, the wound may be deep and the skin could be pulled away. Dog bites can become infected because of the germs involved – about 1 out of 5 dog bites become infected. The wounds must be carefully cared for and managed to ensure that infection does not set in. Stitches or staples are often needed to close the wounds and sometimes surgery is required.
Dog Owner Liability
In many cases, dog owners are responsible or liable for any injuries caused by their dogs. After a dog bite occurs the parties should contact the police and make a report. The circumstances of the situation should be noted along with any witnesses. If the injury is serious the victim will likely have medical bills and other expenses. The dog owner or their insurance company must be contacted which can be done with the help of an experienced attorney. Compensation may be paid for damages that include medical costs, lost wages, and money for pain and suffering. Other damages may also be appropriate, depending on the circumstances and severity of the incident. For example, if the injury caused scarring the victim may seek money for permanent disfigurement.
Each situation is different and therefore must be reviewed to determine the best way to proceed. Some cases can be settled out of court while others may require a court trial. If you or family member were seriously hurt because of a dog bite, contact the skilled Columbia personal injury attorneys at Connell Law Firm to discuss your case.