Dog bites can cause injuries such as broken bones and open wounds. Perhaps the most serious dog bite complications are the high risk of infection and the potential for spreading diseases.
Diseases and Infections that Dog Bites Can Transmit to Humans
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even seemingly healthy, well-cared-for dogs can carry germs inside their mouths that pose a health risk to human beings. Dog bites can cause injuries that result in open wounds, allowing dangerous bacteria to enter. Some common infections and illnesses associated with dog bites include:
According to the Mayo Clinic, rabies is a deadly virus most commonly spread through animal bites. Initial symptoms are similar to the flu, but more severe side effects include confusion, partial paralysis, hallucinations, insomnia, and difficulty swallowing.
If a dog or any other animal bit you, you should seek medical treatment immediately, especially if you are unsure if the animal has had a rabies vaccination. Once a person is symptomatic, rabies almost always results in death. For this reason, most states and municipalities have laws requiring dog owners to vaccinate their animals.
One way this bacterial disease spreads is by entering skin wounds. Dogs who carry brucellosis might not have symptoms, but humans who are infected may show signs of the disease six to eight weeks after exposure. Symptoms are flu-like, but severe forms can damage the heart valves, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes, brucellosis becomes a chronic illness.
According to MedlinePlus, Clostridium bacteria, found in soil, dust, saliva, and manure, causes tetanus. When dogs bite, there is a risk of this bacteria entering the wound. Tetanus causes painful muscle tightening and can lead to “lockjaw.”
Americans are usually vaccinated for tetanus, but adults require a tetanus booster every 10 years. If a dog bites you, your doctor may recommend a booster if your last shot was more than five years ago.
This is another bacteria that commonly lives inside of dogs’ mouths. It does not harm dogs, but if transferred to humans through bites or scratches, it can cause blisters, redness, and swelling around the wound. It can also lead to fever, diarrhea, and joint pain, according to the CDC. Though rare, capnocytophaga can result in serious, life-threatening complications, such as sepsis and kidney failure.
Dog Owners Have a Responsibility to Keep Others Safe from Their Animals
If a dog bite caused your injuries or led to an infection or illness, the dog owner could owe you financial compensation. Dog bite laws vary from state to state, and the type of dog-related injuries a pet owner is responsible for may differ.
When a Dog Owner Is Liable for Bite Injuries
Proving liability or responsibility for a dog bite is different depending on where you live. Some states follow a one-bite rule. Under a one-bite rule, a dog owner is only liable for injuries if they knew or should have known that their pet could be dangerous or aggressive.
In states with “strict liability” laws, dog owners are responsible if their pets bite, regardless of any past history of biting or aggression. In some states, dog bite statutes relate to more than just bites. For example, in some locations, dog owners may also be liable for other injuries caused by their animals.
Say a dog charges at someone, and that person breaks a leg while running away. The dog owner might owe them compensation for their injury. Many states have exceptions to liability. A dog owner might not be liable if the person bitten was trespassing, provoking the dog, or attempting to harm the dog or its owner.
Most police dog bites are also exempt if the bite victim was a suspect of a crime at the time of the bite.
You Can Seek Compensation with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm’s Help
The dog owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy may cover your injuries. You can begin pursuing awards by filing an insurance claim. You may want to hire an attorney to assist you with negotiations. If you cannot settle your case this way, a lawyer can help you sue for monetary awards.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has a dog bite injury lawyer in your state who can help with your case.
If you would like to learn more about your legal options, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 816-0755. Our team can get you started with a risk-free consultation.