Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance claims is paid out to victims of dog bites. Dogs bite approximately 4.7 million people annually, with children compromising more than half of the total number victims. Nearly 400,000 people receive medical treatment for their wounds and about 16 people die.
After 5 to 9 year olds, seniors are the second largest age group in danger, followed by U.S. Postal workers (letter carries). Nationwide, over 5½ thousand carriers were victims of dog attacks last year with medical expenses costing the Postal Service a little over a million dollars.
Nationally, the average cost per claim was $28,799. California had the most number of claims with 309 totaling $10 million with a per claim average of $38,500. With the number of dog bite injuries rising each year, you ought to know what to do should you or a loved one get bit:
- Jot down the name and telephone number of the dog’s owner and any witnesses. If at all possible, also write down their addresses. This is important because, in all the commotion, many times victims leave the scene in order to get medical treatment and the at-fault parties are gone and not able to be traced.
- Depending on the seriousness of the bite, have it treated. And visit a veterinarian if your pet has also been bitten. The best bet, go to the emergency room because ER doctors are trained on how to treat trauma such as dog bites. In addition, they treat many similar dog bites throughout the year and these doctors (i.e., ER doctors) usually know exactly what to do and not to do when treating someone who has been attacked by a dog.
- Be sure to keep copies of the medical bills and photographs of the bite(s). Most state statutes include dog-inflicted injuries, not only bites. For example, here in Georgia, a young girls was charged by a dog. The dog did not bite her, but the dog forced her into the street and into the path of an oncoming car, which, unfortunately, lead to her death. In this situation, the owner of the dog is liable to the girls parents for the girls death due to their negligence in allowing the dog off leash and trying to attack the girl.
- Notify the police about the incident and check with the animal control department to find out if the dog is labeled dangerous or has been reported for prior attacks. Make sure a police report (or animal control report) is filled out to document exactly what took place. Once again, as time elapses, memories fade, witnesses are lost and what seemed like an open and shut case of negligence on behalf of the dog owner, become not so clear-cut. Make sure the proper information is taken down by the authorities. They are there to help you.
- Acquaint yourself with the dog bite statutes of your state. In order to sue, Georgia’s statutes mandate that the victim must be able to prove the dog owner’s negligence. In many cases, this is established by proving violation of the local leash law or ordinance.
You can also find out what your options are by calling me at (404) 525-5150. I am an Atlanta-based personal injury attorney with over 20 years experience in dealing with serious dog bite injuries. I am here to help you.