According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners’ insurance companies paid over $700 million to resolve animal attack claims in 2017, and injury severity drove this increase. The number of claims, as well as the average financial value of each claim, rose as well.
Dog bite victims have a number of legal options in these cases. Florida has a limited strict liability law which, in some cases, may allow Brandon personal injury attorneys to obtain compensation even if the owner was not careless. Various negligence theories, such as scienter (knowledge of the animal’s viciousness), ordinary negligence, and negligence per se (violation of a safety law) are available as well. Each approach has different pros and cons in different situations.
Physical Dog Bite Injuries
When an aggressive animal attacks a helpless victim, the victim normally accumulates very high medical bills. Primarily, that’s because most dog bites involve three kinds of injuries.
In many cases, the dog is a large mastiff breed (rottweiler, German shepherd, doberman pinscher, etc.) and the victim is a physically frail individual, like a small child or an older adult. As a result, the knockdown often causes injuries like:
- Broken bones,
- Head injuries, and
- Internal injuries.
Many of these injuries occur when the victim hits the ground. But in many other cases, the motion alone is sufficient to cause a serious injury. Head wounds are a good example. Just like it is possible to shake and egg and scramble it without breaking the shell, it’s also possible to shake the brain and scramble it without cracking the skull.
Next, the bite often causes both deep puncture wounds and severe tearing lacerations. The deep puncture wounds often pierce internal organs, causing them to bleed even more profusely than they already were. The lateral surface injuries often require extensive reconstructive surgery.
Bite wounds are usually the most expensive part of the injury process. On a related note, many dogs scratch or claw their victims during attacks. These wounds often leave permanent facial and other scars.
Finally, dog bites often cause Pasteurella infections. These bacterial infections occur in over half of all dog bite injuries. Normally, this bacterial infection just causes redness and pain. But if the victim had a weak immune system, Pasteurella infections could be life-threatening.
Other types of bacterial infections include MSRA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or Staph infections) and Clostridium tetani (tetanus).
Generally, bacterial infections involve medical negligence. So, to obtain compensation for these injuries, an attorney may need to file a separate legal claim.
Emotional Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites also cause emotional injuries, most notably Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is especially common among young victims. These individuals suffer from symptoms like heightened awareness, which in this case is an unnatural fear of all dogs, flashbacks, and nightmares.
PTSD is actually a chemical imbalance in the brain. The cerebral cortex, which controls logical responses, gets smaller, and the amygdala, which controls emotional reactions, gets larger. The injury itself is permanent. But physical and rehabilitative therapy can ease most of the symptoms over time.
Reach Out to Tenacious Attorneys
Dog bites cause severe, long-lasting injuries which are difficult to treat. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).