INJURED FROM A DOG BITE?
Each year, dog bites send thousands of people to the emergency room. Although many wounds are superficial, other victims suffer devastating injuries. If you have been bitten by a dog, you might be able to receive compensation.
DOG BITE STATISTICS:
- 31 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities occurred in 2016. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 900 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 71% (22) of these deaths. Pit bulls make up about 6% of the total U.S. dog population.
- Together, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 77% of the total recorded deaths in 2016. This same combination also accounted for 76% of all fatal attacks during the 12-year period of 2005 to 2016.
- From 2005 to 2016, pit bulls killed 254 Americans, about one citizen every 17 days, versus rottweilers, which killed 43, a citizen every 102 days.
- In 2016, the combination of pit bulls, American bulldogs, and rottweilers contributed to 84% of all dog bite-related fatalities.
- Labradors and their mixes contributed to 3 deaths in 2016, followed by 6 breeds, each with 2 deaths: American bulldog, Belgian malinois, doberman pinscher, German shepherd, mixed-breed, rottweiler and 2 cases with unreleased breed data.
- Annual data from 2016 shows that 42% of the fatality victims were children ages 9-years and younger and 58% were adults, ages 30-years and older. Of the total adults killed by canines in 2016, pit bulls were responsible for 67%.
- In 2016, female victims were greater in number than male victims. Among children ages 9-years and younger, male deaths were greater, 62% vs. 38% and among adults 59-years and older, female deaths outpaced males, 75% vs. 25%.
- In 2016, infants 3 to 6-days old accounted for 31% of all child deaths. In one case, a pit bull-mix was lying in bed with the baby and its parents when it attacked. The family had adopted the dog 5-months earlier.
- 42% of all dog bite fatality victims in 2016 were either visiting or living temporarily with the dog’s owner when the fatal attack occurred, up from 32% in 2015. Of this subset of 13 fatalities, 77% were inflicted by pit bulls.
- In 2016, 32% of attacks resulting in death involved a dog or person new to a household (0-2 month period). Children 9-years and younger accounted for 80% of these deaths. Of this subset of 10 fatalities, 70% were inflicted by pit bulls.
- In 2016, 61% of all fatalities involved more than one dog, up from the 11-year average of 44% (2005 to 2015). 35% of all deaths involved 2 or 3 dogs and 26% involved a pack attack of 4 or more dogs, up from the 11-year average of 14%.
- 29% of all dog bite fatalities in 2016 involved breeding on the dog owner’s property either actively or in the recent past; pit bulls accounted for 67% of these deaths. 3% involved tethered dogs, down from the 11-year average of 10%.
- Dog ownership information for 2016 shows that non-family dogs inflicted the majority of deaths, 55%. Of this subset, 59%) were inflicted by pit bulls. Conversely, only 19% of attacks resulting in death occurred off the dog owner’s property.
- Family dogs inflicted 45% of all deaths in 2016; family pit bulls accounted for 86% of these deaths, up from an 11-year average of 63%. Of the 22 fatal pit bull attacks, 55% involved a family or household member vs. 45% non-family.
- In 2016, only 6% of all deadly attacks resulted in meaningful criminal charges; the lowest level on record.
INDIANA’S DOG BITE LAWS
Indiana’s dog bite law is a mix of statutory and common law, with the common law of negligence applying in most situations. Under the common law, dogs are presumed harmless. To prevail in a dog bite case, you must prove two things:
- The owner was aware the dog was dangerous, or the owner should have known of it. For example, if the dog had bitten or harmed another person, then the owner is on notice of the dog’s dangerousness.
- The dog owner was careless in how he handled the dog. For example, he might have let the dog run without a leash or allowed the dog to rush a small child without restraining it.
With negligence, each case turns on its own facts. For example, a dog owner might need to take greater steps to restrain a larger dog than a small one.
In a small number of cases, Indiana’s dog bite statute (IC 15-20-1-3) applies. The statute covers government worker, such as postal employees, who are bitten. It is a strict liability statute, meaning that the owner is liable regardless of how much care they exercised in preventing an attack.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A DOG ATTACK
Obviously, the first priority is to protect your health. If you are bleeding profusely, then apply pressure using a clean towel or rag. Also keep the body part elevated above the heart, which should reduce bleeding.
If the wound is superficial, you can clean it using soap and warm water. Nevertheless, if the dog broke the skin, you should go to the doctor to have it looked at. The doctor can prevent infections from developing and might give you a tetanus or anti-rabies shot, along with antibiotics.
You should also have someone collect information about the dog and its owner, such as:
- The name of the owner, including their address and phone number
- A description of the dog (size, height, breed, color, etc.)
- Where the dog bite occurred
- Any witnesses to the attack
Lastly, report the dog bite to the police. They might need to investigate and quarantine the dog if it has not had a rabies vaccine recently.
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HOW MUCH IS THE DOG BITE WORTH?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average dog bite claim in 2015 was $37,000. It is probably higher today. However, this is the average. Some clients receive more, and some receive less. Many factors go into how much compensation you might receive.
For example, the seriousness of your injuries is the largest factor used to determine compensation. You can typically receive 100% of your medical expenses as well as 100% of any lost wages if you could not work as you recovered. If the dog bite required reconstructive surgery, then you will receive more than if all you needed was a bandage applied to the wound.
The emotional fallout from the attack also impacts the amount of a settlement. Any bite that leaves a permanent scar in a visible area can cause deep embarrassment and emotional distress. A vicious dog attack can also lead to depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Young children, in particular, can suffer severe emotional trauma from a dog bite. Emotional or mental trauma that is well-documented can increase a settlement.
We also need to consider the resources a dog owner has available. Most dog owners use their homeowner’s insurance policy to pay out claims, so we will need to review the policy limit and any exclusions.
INDIANA’S STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
If a dog has bitten you, you should not delay pursuing legal avenues for compensation. Indiana gives injured victims only two years from the bite to bring a lawsuit for negligence. If you wait too long, then the dog owner can ask the judge to dismiss the case, which will leave you with no money.
You might think that two years is a long time, but it can take months to investigate the circumstances surrounding the bite and additional time to negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company. Before you know it, two years have passed.
SPEAK WITH AN EXPERIENCED DOG BITE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY IN FORT WAYNE
After a dog bite, time is of the essence. You should protect your legal rights to compensation by scheduling an appointment with an experienced dog bite lawyer.
At Delventhal Law Office, our Fort Wayne dog bite accident attorneys we have helped many clients obtain the compensation they deserve after a dog attack. Please reach out to us today to schedule your free initial consultation.
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