What to do if you are injured by a dog bite in Delaware? | Morris James LLP

Dogs are an integral part of American society. According to APPA’s 2021-2022 National Pet Ownership Survey, 69 million US households have a dog as a pet, and the Insurance Research Council reported that 21% of US families have adopted a dog in 2020. The start of 2020 also saw a massive increase in the number of dog bites and dog bite insurance claims, coinciding with the start of the pandemic shutdowns. A State Farm survey found a 21.6% increase in dog bites in March 2020 compared to March 2019, and recorded more dog-related injury claims in March 2020 than any other month in 2020.

Unfortunately, children are most at risk from dog bites. According to the CDC, a child is much more likely to be bitten by a dog than an adult, and when they are bitten by a dog, their injuries are more likely to be serious. It’s not just unknown or provoked dogs that pose a risk to children. The CDC reports that “Most dog bites affecting young children occur during daily activities and interactions with familiar dogs.”

The consequences of a dog attack can be serious, whether the victim is a child or an adult. 1 in 5 dog bites requires medical attention, and if a dog knocks a victim, such as a cyclist or an elderly person, it can cause serious injury. Victims can end up with lacerations, broken bones, infections, scars and emotional trauma. The cost of medical bills alone is a burden on dog attack victims and their families. Many people wonder what to do after a dog bite and how to deal with the problems that have been thrust upon them.

What to do immediately after a dog bite?

Get out! Stay out! This may be the slogan of fire safety campaigns, but it also applies to dog attacks. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you should try to get to a safe place where you won’t be attacked again. It may simply mean that the dog is under the control of its owner or in a confined area, or you may need to put a barrier between you and the attacking dog, such as a fence, wall, gate, or closed door.

Treat your wounds and those of other victims as soon as possible after a dog bite. Even minor injuries can lead to infection and can be serious. The CDC recommends that for minor wounds, you should wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply antibiotic cream, and cover the wound with a clean bandage. For deeper wounds, it is recommended that you apply pressure with a clean, dry cloth to stem the bleeding and seek immediate medical attention. If you are unable to stem the bleeding, or if you feel faint or faint, you should call 911 for medical attention. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises to be prepared to inform the attending physician of the victim’s tetanus vaccination status, the dog’s vaccination status (or contact information for the dog’s veterinarian), the dog’s owner, and whether you know that the dog bit before. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should see your health care provider. You may need antibiotics, a tetanus or rabies shot. Remember to follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure proper healing.

Request proof of rabies vaccination, owner’s contact details and vet contact details from the dog’s owner. It is very important to know whether the dog’s vaccinations are up to date or not. The owner should be able to give you the dog’s rabies vaccine license number. A veterinarian who is familiar with the dog’s vaccination records and history will be able to provide crucial information to your care team. Your health care provider may also need to consult with your state or local health department to help you decide if you need a treatment known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for rabies.

Report the dog bite. When you are attacked or bitten by a dog, you must report the incident to the police and the local animal control agency for public safety reasons. In some cases, your healthcare provider can do this for you. It’s especially important to report a dog bite if you don’t know the dog’s rabies vaccination status, or if the dog seems sick or acts strange. A police report will also be important evidence in any legal claim or insurance claim.

Gather the evidence. Information about the dog and how the dog bite occurred is important for your medical care and for an insurance claim or other legal claim arising from the dog’s attack. You should keep track of as many of the following as possible:

  • Name and contact details of the owner
  • Dog’s name and vaccination status (including rabies vaccination license number)
  • Name and contact details of the veterinarian
  • Witnesses to the dog attack (name and contact details)
  • Photos from the dog bite scene
  • Police report on dog bite
  • Your own notes about the dog’s attack (including whether the dog was provoked, teased, or properly restrained)
  • Medical records
  • Medical bills (including pharmacy fees, transportation fees, therapy bills, etc.)
  • Register of absences from work

You don’t have to have all of the above evidence to be successful in a dog bite claim or negotiation. All of this information can strengthen your claim, but you may still be able to get compensation if you don’t have it.

Contact an experienced Delaware dog bite attorney. Sometimes victims are reluctant to contact a dog bite lawyer. Maybe they are unaware of the severity of the bite, they don’t want to cause trouble for a dog owner they know, or they are afraid of what will happen to the dog. A dog bite is a serious incident and can lead to serious injury. Even a dog bite that seems minor at first glance can turn into a bigger problem through infection, scarring, or emotional trauma. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and take action if you wish. A reputable lawyer will offer you a free consultation to discuss your case without any risk or obligation. In most situations, as your lawyer will explain to you, you won’t be making a claim against the dog’s owner but against their insurance company, because dog owners usually have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy that covers them. covers for such incidents. A lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance company who will often try to deny or minimize your claim for the costs you incurred as a result of the dog bite.

What compensation can you get for a dog bite?

When you’ve been attacked by a dog, you can suffer physical and emotional damage that can affect your life in many ways, including financially. It’s natural to think about how much compensation you could get after a dog bite and whether it’s worth filing a lawsuit or even talking to a lawyer. Every dog ​​bite claim is different and will result in different compensation amounts. A good lawyer will talk to you about the details of your injuries and your claim, and give you realistic advice on how to file a claim, but they should NEVER guarantee a dollar amount of compensation. Final compensation will depend on your negotiations with the other parties involved (likely an insurance company) or a judge or jury, if you end up at trial.

We have information from insurance companies on average compensation for dog bites, but they do not guarantee any compensation for your dog bite claim. The Insurance Information Institute reported that the average dog bite claim payout was $50,245 in 2020, up 12.3% from $44,760 in 2019. The average cost per claim across the domestic law increased by 162% from 2003 to 2020, due to rising medical costs as well as an upward trend in the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards awarded to plaintiffs. In total in 2020, insurance companies paid $853.7 million for 16,991 dog bite and injury claims.

The amount of compensation you will receive after a dog bite will depend on the circumstances of your case. Dog bite compensation is intended to cover your financial losses, as well as your pain and suffering as a result of the bite, such as:

Medical bills. You have the right to be compensated for all medical expenses (present and future) resulting from the dog bite. These may include expenses such as emergency room charges, bills from doctors or other health care providers, pharmacy charges, dental charges, physiotherapy bills, counseling charges, plastic surgery costs or transportation costs to medical appointments.

Wages lost. You may have to miss work due to your dog bite injuries. You are entitled to compensation for your days of work missed for recuperation and for medical appointments related to your dog bite injuries.

Lost future earnings. If you have lasting injuries from a dog bite that affect your ability to do your job, you may be entitled to compensation for reduced earning capacity.

Property damage. In some cases, you can sustain property damage, such as broken glasses or a damaged bike, in a dog attack. You can be compensated for this material damage.

The pain and the suffering. After a dog bite, you may experience psychological harm and not be able to enjoy life as you did before the dog bite. You are entitled to compensation for this pain and suffering.

Punitive damages. It is not common to obtain punitive damages in a dog bite case, but sometimes they are appropriate. Punitive damages are intended to punish someone (usually the dog’s owner) for behavior that led to the dog’s attack, such as a careless dog owner who allowed an aggressive dog with a history of biting to run away on a leash near other people.


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