According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S.  Of those, almost 900,000 require medical attention.  Dog bite injuries can cause serious, lasting injuries, both physical and psychological.

The Dog Bite Itself

If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite, even if it appears minor, it needs to be cleaned and properly examined by a medical professional immediately.  Serious dog bites almost always involve puncture wounds.  A puncture wound occurs when a dog’s canine teeth (its longest teeth) penetrate the skin, muscle, or even the bone.  Less severe puncture wounds may be inflicted by smaller dogs or from a bite in which the dog’s shorter (non-canine) teeth break the skin.  Make no mistake: Even puncture wounds from a small dog can be serious.

A dog bite can cause permanent scarring and disfigurement, particularly if the injury is to the face.  Nerve damage from a bite can cause extreme pain and temporary or permanent disability.

Infections:

While rabies and tetanus infections from dog bites are extremely rare in the U.S., due to high rates of vaccination, infections like streptococcus, staphylococcus and Pasteurella are more common.  Symptoms include swelling and redness at the bite site.  These infections typically respond quickly to antibiotics, but if left untreated, they can cause a life-threatening condition known as sepsis. In most parts of the U.S., if you’re bitten by a dog, you need to make contact with the local health department so they can proceed with rabies protocols, including having the dog quarantined and monitored for 10 days.

Other Physical Trauma:

An aggressive dog can cause serious injuries without biting.  Large dogs can knock a person to the ground — especially a child or elderly person.  Bruising, broken bones and even head injuries can result.

Psychological Trauma:

We often associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) with soldiers returning from battle, but PTSD can be caused by exposure to any frightening, disturbing event, including a dog attack.  Memories of the attack can cause difficulty sleeping and nightmares.  Fear of another attack — or of dogs in general — can cause severe anxiety.  PTSD can also affect those who have witnessed a loved one being attacked.  Without proper treatment, PTSD can interfere with normal, day-to-day functioning and can dramatically affect the victim’s quality of life.

Medical bills from a dog bite can be significant.  Pain and suffering from the bite (both physical and emotional) can last for days, weeks, or years, causing you to miss work and miss out on other activities that you once enjoyed.  An attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases can make sure that you get the financial compensation that you and your family deserve.