When a dog attacks someone, whether or not they have training generally does not affect the victim’s ability to recover compensation for their losses. However, other elements of a dog attack case could affect who is liable for damages. If you suffered an injury resulting from a dog attack, a personal injury lawyer could help you understand the compensation available to you and how to access it.
Different Types of Dog Attacks
The damages you can recover following a dog attack can range significantly depending on several factors, including the type of attack. Examples of ways a dog can injure someone include:
- Dog bites. The first type of attack that likely comes to mind when you think of a dog is a biting attack. These are often more aggressive because dogs defend themselves by biting. The wounds from a dog bite can range from scrapes to deadly punctures.
- Jumping. Trained dogs do not typically jump on people, but it can still happen. Even a gentle dog can get excited and jump on someone, knocking them down and causing an injury. Small children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to injuries in this type of attack, especially if the dog is a large breed.
- Chasing. Dogs are known to chase people, vehicles, and other animals, especially if they are protective or aggressive. The dog owner could be liable if someone suffers an injury while running from a dog.
The circumstances under which your attack occurred are essential to your case. For example, where you were, why you were there, and what you were doing at the time of the attack can all affect your eligibility for compensation.
Common Injuries from Dog Attacks
The most common victims of dog attacks are children. They often do not understand the dangers of approaching a strange dog, and given their small size, they are susceptible to severe injuries, especially if the dog is larger. Some common injuries from dog attacks, regardless of the victim’s age and size, include:
- Puncture wounds. These occur from dog bites and can result in serious infections or cause the victim to bleed excessively, especially when the bite occurs near a major artery.
- Arm, leg, and hand injuries. People typically use their extremities to defend themselves in a dog attack, often resulting in bites and cuts to those areas.
- Emotional injuries. A dog attack can be a terrifying experience resulting in psychological trauma. It is not uncommon for victims of severe attacks to develop a fear of dogs or even leaving their homes. Some have post-traumatic stress disorder and need mental health treatment to learn to cope.
- Death. In extreme cases, a dog attack can result in death. For example, a bite to the neck could quickly become fatal.
If you suffered severe injuries due to a dog attack, you might face compounding medical bills and an inability to work while you recover. A dog attack lawyer can help you find the right avenue to compensation and help you determine who is liable in your case.
Strict Liability and Trained Dogs
Most states, including Massachusetts, impose strict liability on dog owners in cases involving dog attacks. Strict liability states that the dog owner is almost always responsible for the dog’s actions. For example, Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute adheres to strict liability, only relieving the dog owner of liability if the injured person committed another tort at the time of the attack, trespassed on the property, or intentionally provoked, abused, or teased the dog. The law does not consider whether or not the dog has training or no history of aggressive behavior. It also does not matter if the dog owner took every precaution to keep others safe or attempted to stop the attack before it happened.
Damages Available From a Dog Attack Case
The value of your claim for a dog attack comes directly from the damages you suffered. The law refers to those losses as compensatory damages. They are designed to make whole what was lost in the attack, including the psychological damage you endured. In some extreme cases, you may also receive punitive damages.
Your compensatory losses include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are the tangible losses that affect you financially. Examples may include:
- Cost of medical care. These include ambulance services, hospitalization, outpatient doctor visits, surgeries, medications, follow-up care, rehabilitative therapy, and treatment for conditions you had before the accident and that were aggravated by the attacks.
- Lost wages from missed work opportunities. You can claim lost time at work and loss of earning capacity if you lose functionality due to your injuries. In addition, you can claim current and future lost wages.
- Repair or replace damaged property. It is common for more than just your body to suffer damage during a dog attack. For example, you may have torn or shredded clothing, broken glasses, or damage to anything you were carrying at the time, such as a backpack.
These damages are not always the most significant in your claim. Non-economic losses often make up a substantial portion of your losses. Examples of those include:
- Loss of enjoyment as a result of emotional trauma, permanent dysfunction, or disfigurement
- Loss of consortium if the injuries impacted your relationship with your partner or spouse
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering caused by your injuries
These damages are more challenging to quantify, but a personal injury attorney will know how to identify and adequately value them.
In some cases, the court may deem it necessary to punish the dog owner for gross negligence or intentional malice. For example, if the owner knew the dog had a history of behaving aggressively and chose not to keep it on a leash or in an enclosure, that may constitute gross negligence. If they encourage the dog to attack, that may warrant punitive damages and possibly result in criminal liability.
How a Dog Attack Lawyer Can Help You
If you suffered an injury from an attack by a trained dog, you likely have questions about your right to compensation and what legal options you can use to get it. Tort law in most states generally favors victims of dog attack incidents regardless of the dog’s training or lack of violent history. However, there are certain conditions and circumstances that could complicate your case. A personal injury lawyer with experience in dog attack cases can use the information you provide to better assess your opportunity to recover your losses and rebuild your life after a devastating accident. If you need help proving negligence, identifying damages, or dealing with a combative insurance agency, your attorney will take care of all those things while you focus on physical and emotional healing.
At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we understand the burdens that victims of dog attacks face as a result of their injuries. We try to alleviate some of those burdens by offering our expertise and representation at no upfront cost to avoid adding to the financial losses from the accident. The first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee states that we only receive payment for our services when you get paid for your losses. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers for your free case evaluation and speak with a dog attack lawyer today.