Dog Bite Attorney
The day starts like any other — rushing around the house, getting ready for work, packing lunches, and getting the kids out the door for school. It’s chaotic, but you have a routine that works. It’s Johnny’s day to take out the trash. You hear the truck winding its way to the neighborhood and wonder if you should remind him.
Then, you hear another sound, Johnny screaming and calling for help. You are used to his cries for mercy when his brother picks on him. This sound is different. Your parental instincts kick in, and you run for the door. As you get closer, you hear snarling and barking. When you finally reach the yard, you see the neighbor pulling their dog away from your boy, and he’s hurt.
Now, instead of dropping off the kids at school and heading to work, you’re on your way to the ER with your son and wondering what you are going to do.
At LifeLaw, we have helped many clients deal with the complexity of dog bite cases. We know that finding an experienced lawyer for your dog bite case is crucial. Our expert lawyers can help you through the legal process of building a case and filing a claim with the dog owner’s insurance to get you fair compensation for medical bills, time off work, and emotional trauma.
The Truth About Dog Bites
“Man’s best friend”—the term of endearment we use to describe dogs. In most instances, this description is accurate. By and large, dogs are loyal and loving companions. Their incredible sense of smell and ability to follow commands make them the perfect choice for search and rescue operations, illegal drug detection, medical service companions, and shepherding.
However, like many other animals, our typically docile canine companions react impulsively and instinctually in certain situations, sometimes without warning. These startling reactions can come unprovoked and may include barking, jumping up, nipping, and biting. While many dog encounters result in only minor injuries that go unreported, over 4.5 million people experience dog bites every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Sadly, over half of the victims are children, and over half of the bites occur on the dog owner’s property.
With the number of dog owners on the rise nationwide, dog bite injuries are a serious concern for residents of the Beehive State, especially parents. Utah residents filed 116 dog bite claims in 2018. Settlements paid to the victims averaged just over $45,000 in compensation. These statistics reflect Utah’s firm stance on dog bites.
LifeLaw’s experienced dog bite attorneys are well-versed in Utah’s strict dog bite laws. They can help you understand who is liable for dog bite injuries, your rights as a dog bite victim, and how to get compensation for your injuries.
After the Bite
Following the proper steps after a dog bite injury is key. The information you gather immediately after the incident will help your Salt Lake City lawyer for dog bites build a strong case for you. It will also help prevent the same dog from biting others in the future.
Step One: Seek Medical Treatment
As with any accident, the first priority is the health and well-being of the victim. Evaluate the severity of the bite. Applying pressure to minor nips may help them stop bleeding quickly. However, we still recommend seeing a doctor. The bacteria present in the dog’s saliva can get into the wound, leading to an infection. A doctor can properly clean the bite and dress the wound, speeding up the healing process. Deeper wounds may require stitches, surgery, or hospitalization. Seeking skilled medical attention after a severe dog bite is essential.
If the dog’s vaccination status is unknown or if they are not up to date on their shots, you may need a rabies shot as well to ward off more severe complications.
A doctor’s evaluation can also provide important evidence for your dog bite lawyer to draw on if you decide to pursue a personal injury case. Your doctor’s assessment will help show the nature and severity of your wounds.
Step Two: Document Your Case
Just as you would at the scene of a car accident, gather information to share with the authorities and your dog bite attorney. The more information you have, the stronger your case will be and the smoother your recovery from the dog bite. Be sure to get answers to the following questions:
- Who was responsible for the dog at the time of the attack?
- Who owns the dog?
- What is the dog’s name?
- What breed of dog bit you?
- Is the dog up to date on vaccinations?
- Were there any witnesses?
- What happened before, during, and after the attack?
Write down as many details about the incident as you can remember while it is fresh in your mind. Recalling details later can be challenging. Also, get the contact information of anyone present at the time of the bite. Eye witness accounts will back up your story and strengthen your personal injury case.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Taking pictures at the scene of the dog bite can help you remember details and may preserve pertinent information for your dog bite attorney. Get pictures of the dog, the scene of the incident, and the injuries received. You can also use your phone’s camera to take pictures of the dog’s ID, owner’s ID, and contact information of others present during the attack. Taking pictures will make it easy to gather and keep track of information.
Also, save the clothes you were wearing during the attack, especially if there is blood, bite marks, or other damage to the fabric.
Step Three: Report the Dog Bite to the Authorities
If you or a loved one has serious injuries from a dog bite, you should report it to public health authorities or animal control. Creating a legal record of the bite will help support your dog bite case. It will also ensure that the bite goes on the dog’s record.
Many states do not hold owners responsible the first time their dog bites a person. In states with these laws it is vital to report every bite to show a pattern of behavior. In Utah, owners are “strictly liable.” This means that dog owners are liable for injuries resulting from the dog’s first bite, as well as any other injuries resulting from their pet’s behavior.
At LifeLaw, we believe in upholding this law to protect Utah residents from dog bites. Reporting the injuries you or a loved one received while interacting with a dog helps us win dog bite cases and make Utah neighborhoods safer for everyone.
Step Four: Hire an Expert Utah Lawyer for Dog Bites
In many dog bite cases, it can be challenging to prove liability. It is your word against the word of the dog’s owner. They may claim your actions provoked the dog, which could mean they would not be responsible for your injuries. They may also claim that you exaggerated your account of the incident or the extent of your injuries.
Utah dog owners are responsible for the actions of their pets, and Utah’s dog bite laws exist to protect people like you.
LifeLaw’s experienced dog bite attorneys know how to gather information and present your case to get you compensation for your injuries under Utah’s dog bite laws. As dog bite injury experts, they know what it takes to win a case for you.
How LifeLaw’s Lawyers for Dog Bites Can Help
As soon as you call LifeLaw, you have a team of professionals working for you. Navigating the complexities of a dog bite case on your own can be overwhelming. Let us take the lead on your case, interfacing with the insurance company and opposing legal counsel so you can focus on recovering and getting back to your life.
As experts in personal injury claims and Utah’s dog bite laws, the attorneys at LifeLaw can help you get compensation after suffering a dog bite or related injury. You could receive damages to cover any or all of the following:
- Medical treatment for the bite
- Scar revision or tissue reduction surgery
- Plastic surgery
- Surgical muscle, ligaments, or tendon repairs
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress
Insurance companies have experts working for them to keep costs down and profits high. For you, this could mean getting a lower settlement that doesn’t fully cover your lost wages, medical bills, or compensate you for the trauma you’ve been through. Our attorneys work hard to get the best possible outcome for every client. We understand the legal process and will guide you every step of the way. Let us take care of your case so that you can take care of feeling better.
We know how important it is to find the right attorney for your dog bite case. Call us today to schedule a free consultation, and let us show you what we can do to win your case and ensure that your needs are met.
Tips For Avoiding Dog Bites
While many people love their dogs like children, it is important to remember that they are animals. Like their human counterparts, many are mild-mannered creatures that would never hurt a fly. Others are more temperamental and require some patience. This is especially true of dogs that are eating, pregnant, or protecting a litter of puppies. A dog that is feeling protective or agitated will often show signs of aggression before they bite.
Learning to read the body language of the canines around you can help you avoid the physical pain and emotional trauma of a dog bite injury.
Some signs of aggression in dogs include the following:
- Hackles raised: These special hairs on the back of a dog’s neck become raised to make the animal look larger.
- Tail stiff or hanging: A dog’s tail reflects its emotional state. If it is stiff or hanging, rather than wagging, the dog may be feeling angry or scared.
- Exposed teeth: Barring their teeth is a warning sign to other creatures. A low brow and tongue flick may accompany this menacing look.
- Intense glare: A dog that feels cornered will look intently for an escape or an opening to attack. Its eyes may be so wide you can see the whites of their eyes around the iris.
- Backing away: Retreating as you approach is a sign the dog does not want you near them.
Tips for responding to aggressive dog behaviors:
- Relax: Dogs can tell if you are scared. Remaining calm can help you avoid escalating its emotions.
- Don’t engage: Avoid locking eyes with the dog, as this may lead them to believe you are a threat. Try turning sideways so you appear to be less dangerous.
- Slowly back away: Sudden moves in any direction may startle the dog. Give them more space by stepping slowly away while watching their reaction.
- Put something between you and the dog: If you have a jacket, bag, bike, or purse with you, place that item in front of you. If the dog decides to bite, let it bite this item rather than you.
- Don’t fight: Dogs are strong. The best response to an attack is to curl up on the ground to protect yourself. Curling up your knees close to your chest will protect your stomach while your arms protect your face.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What should I do immediately after being bitten by a dog?
Make sure that you clean the wound. Rinsing the bite area with warm soapy water for several minutes canhelp remove saliva and bacteria from the dog’s mouth and reduces the risk of infection. If your bite is bleeding apply a clean cloth to the wound and apply gentle pressure to stop the bleeding.
After your wound is clean use antibacterial ountment if available and use a sterile bandage or wrap to cover the wound. After you have treated the wound seek medical attention, dog bites can lead to serious infections, so it is vital that you go to the doctor immediately to prevent the spread of any germs and bacteria.
Make sure that you report the bite after you have had your wound attended to. Contact local animal control or public health department to report the bite, this is important for your safety and the safety of others.
2. How do I clean a dog bite wound to prevent infection?
First wash your hands before you touch the wound. Next rinse the wound with mild soap and cool to lukewarm running water for several minutes. This will wash away saliva, bacteria, and any debris left in the wound. After this apply gentle pressure to the wound, use a clean cloth or sterile gause to apply pressure and help stop the bleeding. If the bleeding does not stop with simple pressure, seek medical attention. After the bleeding has stopped and the would is rinsed apply a mild antibacterial wash to disinfect the area, and then pat dry. When the wound is dry apply antibacterial ountment to help prevenet infectionand keep the wound moist. When the wound has been properly cleaned keep it covered with a sterile bandage and consistently monitor for signes of infection, redness, swelling, warmth, pus, or fever.
3. Do I need to go to the doctor for a minor dog bite?
There are a few factors when deciding if you should see a doctor for a minor dog bite:
Severity and Depth: If the bite is surface level and you can clean it well, you might manage at home. However, if it breaks through the skin and goes deeper risk of infection is high and you should be evaluated.
Signs of Infection & Rabies Status: If the wound is showing signs of infection such as redness, swelling, warmth, pus, or if you develop fever. See a doctor. If the dog’s rabies vaccination status is unknown seek a medical professional as soon as possible.
Location of the Bite and Medical History: Bites on the face, hands, feet, or joints are more prone to complications and can require medical assessments regardgless of how minor they seem. If you have a compromised immune system, diabetes or any other condition be sure to seek a doctor immediately after a bite.
4. What are signs of infection in a dog bite wound?
Signs of infection from a dog bite can include:
Redness and swelling around the wound, warmth from the wound warmer than the surrounding skin, increased pain in the wounded area, pus or fluids oozing from the bite, fever or feeling feverish, or feeling unusually tired or unwell. If you are noticing any of these symptoms after your dog bite seek medical attention to slow or stop any potential infection.
5. Should I get a tetanus shot after a dog bite?
Yes, you should consider getting a tetanus shot after a dog bite if your vaccination is not up to date. Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that can result form any wound, this includes dog bites. The bacteria that causes tetanus lives in soil, saliva, and dust, so a dog bite can potentially introduce them to your body. Consult with your doctor after you have been bitten and get a professional opinion on whether or not you should get a tetanus shot or booster.
6. When should I seek medical treatment for a dog bite?
You should seek medical tretment for your dog bite if the wound is deep, bleeding is uncontrolled, or if there are signs of infection. If your bite was on a sensitive area such as your face, hands, feet, or joints, seek medical attention immediately as healing from a wound on these areas can cause complications. Seeking prompt medical attention after your bite is crucial to prevent infections, ensure proper healing, and reduce the risk of long-term complications.
7. What diseases can I contract from a dog bite?
A dog bite can potentially transmit several diseases if not treated properly. The most notable diseases include:
Rabies: One of the most serious diseases that you can contract from a dog bite, vaccination of dogs has made rabies relatively rare and can be treated easily if discovered early.
Capnocytophaga: Caused by bacteria that lives in a dog’s mouth can cause infections in humans, particularly with those with a weakened immune system, asplenia, or alcoholism. Infactions can range from relatively mild to life-threatening.
Tetanus: Tetanus is caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium tetani bacteria, which can enter the body through bite wounds. This can lead to muscle stiffness and spasms and can be treated with a tetanus shot.
MRSA: can cause skin, lung, and urinary tract infections, and in severe cases, it can spread to other parts of the body. MRSA can be difficult to treat due to resistance to many antibiotics.
Prompt treatment is key to dealing with any infections that may come from a dog bite. Seek treatment if your bite wound worstens, and listen to the advice a doctor gives you.
8. Can I sue the dog's owner for medical expenses after a bite?
In Utah, dog owners are held stricly liable for injuries their dogs cause, including bites, regardless of the dog’s previous behavior or the owner’s knowledge of such behavior. This means that victims of dog bites can seek damages without needing to prove owner negligence or the dog’s history of aggression. This law covers a range of damages, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering. Claims may often be covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy. At LifeLaw Personal Injury is well experienced in handling a dog bite case, and are happy to help you navigate the complex legal processes and pursue your compensation.