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When to Hire a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Injury

German Shepard Barking

The Prevalence of Dog Bite Injuries

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approximately 800,000 people require medical attention for dog bites each year. Of those, half are children. Dog bite injuries are a serious problem in the US. Injuries are often severe and can leave victims with permanent scarring, chronic pain, and/or long-term effects. If you are involved in a dog bite incident, you must take it seriously.

In Louisville, or elsewhere across Kentucky [KRS 258.235(4)], the dog owner is required to report the bite (or scratch) to the Department of Public Health and Wellness. Many medical professionals and public officials are also required to report dog bites, including physicians, veterinarians, peace officers, and animal control officers. Louisville also requires that all pet dogs, cats, and ferrets be licensed

Dog Bites Are Not Isolated to One Breed

While some dogs have a reputation for biting, there is very little scientific evidence that supports the idea that any breed is prone to biting. Any dog can bite. You must be careful around strange dogs, and if you have children, teach them to be careful as well. If you own a dog, it is important to respect leash laws, have your pets properly fenced in, and pay attention to signs that indicate your dog is stressed or agitated.

What to Do If a Dog Bites You

Being bitten by a dog is extremely scary. Whether you have been nipped, bitten, or attacked, you should first see to your medical needs, especially if you need emergency medical attention. If the dog's owner is there, you should get their contact information and request evidence that their dog has been vaccinated for rabies and is otherwise up to date on its shots. You should also take a picture of your injuries and the dog. Collect and record as much information about the incident as possible.

To learn more about why you should not post about your injuries on social media, click here.

When to Hire a Lawyer for Your Dog Bite Case

If you were bitten by a dog, you should speak with a lawyer. Kentucky law changed from the archaic “one free bite” model (meaning that the owner had to know of the animal’s vicious propensities) to “Strict Liability” (meaning the owner is responsible—even if they claim the animal has never bitten before). Many people hesitate to seek legal representation because they know the other person involved and think that everything will be fine. However, dog bite cases can be serious and often escalate quickly. Additionally, many property insurance policies (e.g. homeowners insurance) that likely provide coverage, require reporting and the cooperation of those involved. Even if you think you know how the other person will react to the situation, you just never know.

If you were bitten by a dog, the dog’s owner will be held liable for your injuries. However, pursuing a claim and/or filing a lawsuit can be a complicated process. It is important that you work with a lawyer familiar with handling dog bit cases. No matter what happens, you want to make sure that your best interests are protected.

Can I Seek Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury?

When a dog injures someone, the person bit frequently requires medical attention. Depending on the severity of the situation, they may also need follow-up care, physical therapy, plastic surgery, and rehabilitation. In extreme conditions, someone may also be left with significant emotional trauma or a disability that prevents them from work.

In some cases, the only way to get the money you need to heal and move on from your injury is to make a claim against the owner’s insurance policy or policies or even file a lawsuit. If a dog injures you or your child, you have grounds to seek compensation for injuries and all injury-related expenses, including pain and suffering. We understand that this is a daunting task, especially if the dog involved belonged to a friend or family member. You don't have to go through this process alone.

To discuss your case today, reach out to Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC. Our attorney is highly experienced and prepared to offer you the compassionate guidance you need.

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