A dog may be “man’s best friend,” but when dogs are not properly managed, there is a chance that they may bite. Even dog bites that don’t immediately appear to be severe can cause nerve damage or other issues under the surface, in addition to the risk of rabies or tetanus. When a dog owner’s negligence results in these kinds of harms, it can form the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.

According to statistics reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 4.5 million Americans suffer injuries from dog bites every year, and around 900,000 people seek medical treatment. Unfortunately, nearly 40% of victims are children, most commonly between the ages of 5 and 9.

Treating the physical damages of a dog bite, including medical care, can be costly even with health insurance. It can cause scarring, disfigurement, and severe injuries with lasting physical and emotional consequences, especially in small children.

Depending on the victim’s age and the animal in question, bites and attacks can also cause a long-term fear of dogs, anxiety, and even post traumatic stress disorder. While not all dog bites are this severe, it is always best to play it safe, especially when young children are involved.

How to Move Forward After a Dog Bite Injury

Immediately after a dog bite occurs, the first step should be to seek medical care, even if you know the owner, or the dog, or if the bite does not seem immediately dangerous. Dog bite wounds are very dirty and are contaminated with various bacterial organisms from the attacking dog’s mouth and saliva, thus they can become easily infected without appropriate treatment.

The best way to initiate your case is to report the incident to your local police department and Animal Control.  It is especially important to contact Animal Control if you don’t know the dog’s owners, or if you think it might be a stray dog. Reporting a bite from a stray dog could prevent others from suffering bites from the same dog.

It is also a good idea to take pictures of your injuries and to obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses to the attack.  These pieces of information will be vitally important if you intend to pursue legal action in the future.

If you or a loved one was the victim of an injury caused by a dog bite in Michigan within the last three years, it is a good idea to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you get started on your case, the more likely you are to recover compensation for your dog bite injury.

How Can a Dog Bite Attorney Help?

An attorney’s main goal is to help the injured party to get what he or she is entitled to. This could be funds to cover the cost of medical expenses related to the dog bite, or further compensation for mental and physical treatment for any resulting anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, or pain and suffering related to the dog bite.

Michigan holds the dog’s owner responsible for any injury caused to another person by the dog. In order to successfully bring a claim against a dog’s owner, the injured party needs to essentially prove that:

  1. The injury occurred – to recoup damages due to a dog bite injury, there needs to have been an injury caused by a dog bite.  This is where photos/videos of the physical damages will become exceedingly important.
  2. The dog is owned by the defendant – a dog cannot be held legally responsible for biting a human, but the owner can.
  3. The attack occurred on public property or on private property, provided the injured person was not trespassing at the time.
  4. The injured person did not provoke the dog to attack.

Even if you were bitten by a dog you believe was a stray, your attorney may be able to help you locate the dog’s owners. Especially when it comes to children who suffer dog bites, it is better to discuss your options with a lawyer than to assume that nothing can be done.

If you or one of your children have been injured by a dog bite in Michigan, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including pain and suffering. The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Personal Injury Litigation Group offer free initial consultations! Contact us today to schedule yours.