Pittsburgh, PA Dog Bites Lawyer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that nearly 4.5 million Americans suffer from dog bites every year. A full half of these are children. In 2012, over 27,000 victims had to undergo reconstructive surgery to correct the damage caused by the dog bites. Nearly 900,000 had to get medical attention to treat their dog bites.
A report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) News and Numbers in December 2010 noted that the “number of people admitted to the hospital because of dog bites increased by 86 percent—from 5,100 to 9,500 hospital stays—between 1993 and 2008.” They add that on average, nearly 900 people went to the emergency department because of dog bites every day, and 26 of them had to stay in the hospital for treatment.
Populations like seniors and children are particularly vulnerable to serious complications from dog bites. They were the most likely to be hospitalized and to require treatments like debridement, sutures, and skin grafts.
Most occurrences of dog bites could have been prevented, and are caused by the negligence of another party. The Pittsburgh, PA dog bite lawyers at Chaffin Luhana encourage victims of serious dog bites to call for a complementary consultation. We have experience in these types of cases and can help evaluate the evidence to determine if you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit in your state.
Types of Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
Sometimes dogs don’t break the skin when they bite, and the individual can walk away without any concerns. Other times, however, the injuries can be moderate to severe, and may include:
- Puncture wounds, lacerations, and abrasions
- Eye, nose, and other face injuries
- Torn ears
- Fractures or broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Head and neck injuries
- Scars and disfigurement
These types of injuries can be very serious. Infections, for example, can affect the entire body and may require extended hospital stays. Puncture wounds and lacerations on the face can cause disfigurement scarring that may require multiple surgeries and reconstruction. Fingers and hands can be lost to severe bites, affecting the victim’s ability to work and go about his or her normal daily activities, and potentially causing lasting disability.
Is the Owner Always Liable?
Laws vary from state to state on dog bite liability. That’s why it’s helpful to consult with a dog bite lawyer as soon as the injury happens. About half of the states in the union hold the owner liable, even if the victim can’t prove the owner did anything “wrong.” These states may hold the owner responsible for any injury caused by the dog, including bites, but also non-bite attacks, rushing, or trespassing in a way that leads to the victim’s injury.
In Ohio, for example, the owner or caretaker for the dog is liable for any injuries or death caused by that dog, unless the victim was committing a criminal act at the time, such as robbing the place or injuring the person the dog was trying to protect. If the victim was teasing or abusing the dog, the owner is also not liable for any injuries.
In Pennsylvania, dog owners must keep control of their animals, confining them on the premises or keeping them on a leash. If the owner loses control of the dog and the dog bites another person, the owner could be held liable for damages. Similar laws are in place in West Virginia, where dog owners are liable for injuries if they fail to keep the animal under control. Victims must prove that the owner was negligent, though. Contact an experienced premises liability attorney for legal assistance and to help you prove owner negligence if you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite.
Other states hold owners liable only for bite injuries, but the victim must prove that the owner was negligent, unless the animal was known to be dangerous.
In most states, if an owner keeps or is aware that his or her dog is “dangerous,” and fails to take proper precautions, she will most likely be held liable for any injuries caused by that dog. A “dangerous” dog is usually one that has inflicted injury in the past on another human or another domestic animal, or that has a history of attacking people without provocation. Owners are required to maintain a proper enclosure for these types of dogs, and to post clearly visible warning signs about the property.
Dog Bite Lawyer Can Help
If a dog owner is found liable for an injury to a person or a domestic animal, he or she may be required to pay for the following:
- Medical bills
- Physical and other types of therapy
- Lost income
- Vet bills (in the case of an injured domestic animal)
- Property damage
- Lost of future wage earnings
- Pain and suffering
If the dog is considered a “dangerous” dog, and/or it caused injury to another person or domestic animal in the past, the plaintiff may also sue for punitive damages.
If you or a loved one suffered from a serious dog bite or related injury, the Pittsburgh injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana can help. We have experience in these types of cases and can help gather the evidence you need to present a strong case. For a complementary initial consultation, contact us today.