Huntsville Premise Liability Team
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:
- A full 86% of all dog attacks result in bodily harm to the victim.
- In 2014, forty-two dog bite fatalities occurred in the United States.
- Pit bulls contributed to twenty-seven of these fatalities despite the fact that owing a pit bull is regulated in over seven hundred U.S. cities.
- Nearly half of all the fatalities in 2014 were children, ages 13 and younger. Of the adults killed by dog attacks in 2014, 73 percent were fifty years or older.
- Fatal dog attacks increased 82 percent from the 1980s to 2012.
- In more than half of all dog-bite fatalities in 2014, more than one dog was involved. Eight of the fatalities involved a pack of dogs (four or more).
- Nearly a quarter of the 2014 fatal dog bite attacks resulted in criminal charges.
- Between 1993 and 2008, there was a staggering 86 percent increase in dog-bite related hospitalizations, with the average cost for treatment per patient at $18,200. Children and senior citizens over the age of 65 were the most-often hospitalized.
- More than a third of all homeowner insurance liability claim dollars paid in 2012 ($489 million) were the result of a dog bite.
- State Farm paid out for more than 3,550 dog bite claims in 2010, with an average payout of $25,714.
- If you take the Pit Bull breed of dog out of the equation, the remaining dogs in the top ten dogs most likely to bite are: Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel, Wolf Hybrid, Great Dane, Chow, Chihuahua, Husky and Dachshund.
- Postal employees actually do get bitten by dogs fairly often; in 2012, 5,900 letter carriers were bitten.
Strict Liability vs. the One-Bite Rule
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.
Alabama Dog Bite Laws
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:
- The dog was not provoked by the person who was injured;
- There was no trespassing involved on the part of the person who was injured, and
- The injuries or bites from the dog occurred while the person was on the dog owner’s property, or while being chased off the property by the dog.
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.
Other Issues Related to Your Alabama Dog Bite
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.
Getting Help from an Alabama Personal Injury Attorney After a Dog Bite
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.