In some cases, dogs are not trained or monitored and lash out. In other cases, dogs may feel threatened and bite out of an instinct to protect themselves. Dogs can bite people they know and, on some occasions, love.
If someone is seriously injured by another person’s dog, the state has laws to protect victims, and an experienced South Carolina dog bite lawyer can assist them in retrieving the compensation needed to make a full recovery from injuries and damages.
Dog Bite Statistics
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), more than 4.5 million Americans suffer dog attacks each year. More than 800,000 dog bites require medical attention, and about half involve children. More than 500 Americans died in dog attacks between 2005 and 2019.
In addition, almost $800 million was paid out by homeowner’s insurance companies for injuries related to dog attacks in 2019, the latest collected data. In 2018, the injuries and scars from dog bites resulted in approximately 30,000 people undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair the damage.
Why Dogs Bite
To understand how to prevent some of these calamities, it is important to discuss why dogs bite. Some common reasons why dogs bite include:
- The dog is protecting someone or something
- The dog’s predatory instincts
- The dog is chained or tethered and territorial
- The dog has been abused
- The Dog is fearful
- The dog is in pain
- The dog is unneutered, which increases aggression
- The dog has an illness that makes it aggressive
Often, there are signs that dogs may strike. It is important to be alert and aware of these cues, which include:
- The dog growls
- The dog displays their teeth
- The dog’s ears pin back
- The dog’s fur stands up on the back of their neck
- The whites of the dog’s eyes show
- The dog stops moving and stares directly at someone
How to Prevent a Dog Bite
Under many conditions, dog bites can be prevented. The way to avoid a dog attack can sometimes be found in simple approaches to prevention, which include:
- Not approaching unfamiliar dogs
- Not leaving unsupervised children with dogs
- Not teasing dogs
- Not provoking dogs by hitting, grabbing, or pulling their fur or tails
- Not touching dogs while they eat or nurse puppies
- Not roughhousing or wrestling with dogs or around dogs
There are some things you can do to avoid a dog attack, including:
- Allowing dogs to come to you and approaching them slowly and with caution
- Breaking eye contact and calmly moving away from a dog if they become aggressive
Protect Yourself as a Dog Owner
If you are a dog owner, there are a couple of preventative steps to avoid dogs developing aggressive behaviors, including:
- Socializing dogs when they are puppies
- Enrolling in behavior training classes
Medically Treating a Dog Bite
If a dog bite results in a superficial injury, it may be treated at home. A quick reference to treat a bite injury includes five steps:
- Use a towel to stop any bleeding
- Use warm water and soap to wash the bite
- Elevate a bleeding injury if possible
- Apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and repeat daily as needed
- Use a sterile bandage to cover the wound
Even if an injury does not seem serious, a bite may become infected. Dog saliva can contain harmful bacteria, and in some cases, can cause an allergic reaction.
When You Need Immediate Assistance
There are a few indicators that a bite victim needs to seek immediate medical assistance, including:
- Being bitten by an unfamiliar dog
- Severe bleeding
- Fever develops or signs of infection around the injury
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Some common injuries from a dog attack include:
- Puncture wounds/lacerations/avulsions
- Infections like cellulitis, rabies, and tetanus
- Broken or crushed bones
Some permanent damages that may result from a dog attack include:
- Muscle Damage
- Nerve damage
- Severe scarring
Medical professionals can treat an injury and prevent future complications. They will also document the injury, which can be pivotal in insurance investigations. Insurance companies can reject or reduce a claim if victims fail to seek necessary medical attention.
Documenting a Dog Bite
Medical documentation is important in a dog bite case, but so is visual evidence. Documenting an injury and the aftermath can bolster a claim. Documenting an injury includes:
- Taking pictures – Visual evidence is irrefutable evidence, so taking as many pictures as soon as possible can illustrate the severity of the injury and the ramifications of the injury.
- Recording video – Video diaries document how dog bite injuries or scarring impact a person’s life and mental well-being. This explains claims of pain-and-suffering and emotional distress damages if the case goes to court.
According to South Carolina law, doctors have to report animal bite injuries to South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). A report should also be filed with the police or animal control. Official reports add credibility to dog bite cases.
Contact a South Carolina Dog Bite Attorney Today
Minor injuries from dog bites may not require legal representation, but injuries requiring emergency room visits or hospitalization should result in a consultation with a dog bite lawyer.
The more significant the injuries, the more significant the financial and emotional burden on victims. Many think hiring an attorney is just another expense they do not need, but the cost of not contacting an attorney is usually more expensive.
A skilled dog bite attorney is familiar with state laws and regulations. They know how to apply strict liability laws, or how to investigate and find proof of negligence by dog owners. They can negotiate with insurance adjusters, getting quick and satisfying settlements.
Contact the South Carolina dog bite lawyers at the Shelly Leeke Law Firm for a free consultation. We guide our clients through the laborious insurance process with tact and compassion. We manage the complicated details of a dog bite case, so you do not have to.