Dog bites and attacks can lead to significant injury; injuries that affect you medically, financially, and legally.
The saying that “a dog is a man’s best friend” has been true. Dogs of various breeds provide love and companionship to millions of New Jerseys’ residence. Due to the sheer number of pets and the fact that not all owners take proper precautions with their animals, dog attacks are not uncommon in our neighborhoods. In fact, nationwide some 4.7 million Americans being bitten by dogs each year.
An insurance industry report found that in 2018, the average cost of dog bite claims nationwide was $39,017. Another study found that a dog bite can lead to a hospital stay that costs an average of $18,200. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year with the highest number of incidents being for those 5-9 years old. Over half of dog-bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to us.
One of the reasons pet bites can be costly is that often they require professional medical care.
Common Injuries Associated with Dog Bites
Contrary to popular belief, there are many injuries that can result from a dog bite that can vary greatly in severity. Some common injuries due to dog bites include:
- Puncture wounds – This is the type of injury most think of when it comes to dog bites. A puncture wound is a deep vertical wound usually caused by animal teeth, nails, or other long, sharp objects. Though they do not bleed much, they are more prone to infection than other open wounds given the profundity of the insertion. It is important to seek medical attention immediately when it comes to puncture wounds as they may be more severe than they appear.
- Scrapes and lacerations – Put simply. a laceration is a wound produced by the tearing of soft tissue at the surface of the body. This type of wound is often uneven and can trap bacteria.
- Broken bones – Though not often thought of when it comes to animal attacks, dog bites can cause broken bones especially in small children according to the National Institutes of Health. Moreover, broken bones can result from falls that are the result of a person falling to the ground during a dog or animal attack.
- Head injuries – Unfortunately, multiple types of head injuries can occur as a result of a dog bite. These can be the result of actual injuries inflicted by the animal or as a result of falling during the attack. These include a fractured skull, broken nose, fractured jawbone, and others.
- Neck injuries – Some 68 percent of dog bites affected children under the age of five in the study, a startling 80 percent of severe dog bites in children involved the head and neck.
- Nerve damage – According to the Mayo Clinic, peripheral nerves link your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. These are the nerves most often damaged by a dog bite, as they are fragile and easily damaged, interrupting communication between the brain and the muscles and organs; injury to peripheral nerves is called peripheral neuropathy.
- Rabies – Though the cases of rabies are rare since vaccination in domesticated animals like dogs has increased, cases of rabies do occur as a result of dogs coming into contact with bats or raccoons. An infected dog can pass this disease on to a person.
- Emotional Effects – Though scars may disappear after a dog bite, the emotional effects of the event can linger. Long-term fear around dogs, increased anxiety, insomnia, and hysteria have all been reported following a dog attack; and in some cases, victims of dog bites have been treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Liability in Dog bite claims and Homeowner’s insurance
In cases of a dog bite, the owner of the dog is almost always held as the responsible party. Given that at least half of dog bites occur in homes, many may be hesitant to seek restitution especially if the attack occurs in the home of a friend or family member. However, it is important to know that most homeowner insurance police do cover dog bites and other types of animal attacks. In fact, homeowner’s insurers paid out $675 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III) and State Farm.
An analysis of homeowner’s insurance data by the III found that the number of dog bite claims nationwide decreased to 17,297 in 2018 from 18,522 in 2017 – a 6.6% decrease.
The average cost per claim increased by 5.3 percent in 2018. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $39,017 up from $37,051 in 2017. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 103% from 2003 to 2018, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are trending upwards.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog attack it is important to contact a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer in order to get all the facts and become aware of your rights.
Contact our Hamilton Dog Bite Injury Strict Liability Attorneys Today
At Cohen & Riechelson, our team of attorneys is experienced in supporting all types of victims of dog attacks clients across towns like Trenton, Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, New Brunswick, and all of Central New Jersey in filing their injury claims.
To discuss your dog bite accident and your potential for financial compensation through a personal injury claim, please contact us online or call our Hamilton, NJ offices by dialing (609) 528-2596 today for a free and confidential consultation.