Every day in the United States, as many as 1,000 victims require emergency care treatment for injuries received from a biting dog. Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience, causing moderate to serious injuries. In some cases, injuries from a dog attack can be fatal, or can result in disfiguring injuries which can alter the victim’s life forever. If you wonder just how often dog bites and dog attacks occur, the following facts will give you an idea. Data was compiled from United States and Canadian press accounts between 1982 and 2014, as well as from other sources, including the CDC, with the following results:
As it applies to dog bites and dog injuries, states generally choose whether they will operate under the strict liability rule or the one-bite rule. Strict liability means the defendant (the owner of the dog) is held liable if the dog bites someone, no matter whether the owner of the dog could have done anything to prevent the biting incident. Strict liability dog bite laws hold the defendant liable if the plaintiff (the person bitten) was legally allowed to be where he or she was when the bite occurred and did not provoke the dog. Under the strict liability laws, what the owner knew or did not know about the dog prior to the biting incident is irrelevant.
The one-bite rule goes under the assumption that the dog’s owner knew, or should have known, the dog was aggressive before the owner can be held liable. The state of Alabama uses a combination of the strict liability and one-bite approach. In the state of Alabama, the dog’s owner is liable for the costs associated with the injuries resulting from the dog bite or dog attack (medical expenses and lost wages) regardless of whether the owner was aware the dog had aggressive tendencies. Punitive and statutory damages cannot be awarded, however, unless the owner knew the dog was aggressive.
Section 3-6-1 of the Alabama Code deals with injuries caused by dog bites, and states the owner of the dog is liable for the injuries only if:
Unlike some other states, the Alabama statute is applicable to any injury caused by a dog, rather than only to dog bites. As an example, if a large dog jumps up on an elderly person, knocking them down and causing serious bone fractures or other serious injury, then those injuries fall under the dog bite statute. If you are bitten by a dog in a park or on a sidewalk, your attorney may counsel you to bring your case on the legal theory of negligence. This means the owner of the dog did not use reasonable care to prevent the bite from occurring or control the dog. When an owner fails to obey a leash law, then negligence may have occurred.
Dog bites happen fast, yet the impact of the resulting injuries can potentially last a lifetime. Your recovery from a dog bite or other animal attack is dependent, in part, on the decisions you make in the days and weeks following the incident. If you are entitled to recover compensation for the dog bite, those decisions can truly be crucial as they can directly affect your award. The state of Texas led the nation in 2014 with seven deaths attributed to dog attacks, followed by Florida, North Carolina, Alabama and Ohio. More than 350,000 emergency room visits are the result of a dog bite or a dog attack, yet only about a third of one percent of dog bite victims actually receive compensation for their injuries.
An experienced personal injury attorney can listen to the circumstances surrounding your dog bite or attack, then clearly lay out your options. An experienced attorney from Martinson & Beason can negotiate on your behalf with the dog owner’s insurance company or litigate the matter in order to ensure you are fully compensated for your injuries.
If you were bitten by a dog while on the job (delivery person, mail carrier, etc), your attorney may counsel you to pursue a Workers Compensation claim. The Martinson & Beason attorneys understand how traumatic a dog bite can be, and have a goal of allowing you to deal with your injuries while we work hard to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. For a comprehensive evaluation of your Huntsville dog bite, call Martinson & Beason today.
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