According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 4.5 million dog bite injuries every year in the U.S. Many people have the misconception that only certain types of dogs are likely to bite or injure people. However, dog bite injuries involve all sizes and breeds. These injuries can lead to serious infection and even death. After a dog bite injury, the victim may be left with expensive medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.
Dog Bites are More Common Than You Think
Dogs are also known as “man's best friend.” Millions of households have one or more dogs as pets, with the animals often treated as part of the family. However, even the most familiar family pet can end up biting an owner, neighbor, or child, causing serious injury or infection.
Every day, almost 1,000 people require emergency medical treatment for a dog bite injury. The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay is over $18,000. Most people think that a minor dog bite does not require medical care; however, even small bites can lead to serious infection. If left untreated, infected dog bite injuries can even lead to death.
Children are some of the most at-risk for serious dog bite injuries. Bite-related injuries are highest for young children from 5 to 9 years old. Children are smaller, with their hands and faces coming closer to the jaws of a dog than adults. Children may also not know how to behave around dogs or how to approach an unfamiliar animal.
In Washington D.C., “if a dog injures a person while at large, lack of knowledge of the dog's vicious propensity standing alone shall not absolve the owner from a finding of negligence.” Code of the District of Columbia § 8–1812.
A dog owner may be liable for injuries caused by the dog if the dog was at large. If a dog owner allows their dog to roam free, fails to keep their dog from going off-leash or escaping their yard, and that dog bites another person, the owner may be responsible for damages. Even if the owner says the dog is friendly or has never bitten anyone before, they may be liable for the dog bite.
Minor dog bite wounds that become red, painful, or swollen can be a sign of infection. If the victim develops these symptoms or a fever, they should seek medical attention. Deeper wounds may require emergency medical care. If you do not know if the dog has a current rabies vaccination, you should seek medical attention.
Aggressive Dog Breeds
Dogs usually bite in reaction to a stressful or threatening situation. They may also bite because they are startled or they sense a perceived threat to their owners. Some dogs may bite in a playful way, unaware that their bites can be dangerous. Many people think certain breeds of dogs are much more likely to bite than others. However, all dogs can bite a human, from a teacup Pomeranian to a Great Dane. The sex of the dog is much more indicative of whether a dog is more likely to bite. Over 90% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, most of which were not neutered.
Some dogs, including Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, have a reputation for being dangerous. However, many of the fatal attacks involving these dogs have more to do with training and environment than the dog's nature. Owners of some so-called dangerous breeds keep those dogs specifically because they have a dangerous reputation. Owners may even train their dogs to be aggressive for protection or intimidation.
According to a survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association, dog breeds that have a higher rate of biting incidents include German Shepherds, mixed breed dogs, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Jack Russell Terriers, Chow Chows, Spaniels, Collies, and Labrador Retrievers.
A study in Canada found that other, smaller breeds were more likely to bite people, including toy breeds, Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Collies, and Shih Tzus. While these smaller dogs may not be perceived as being dangerous, small to medium-sized dogs can represent a danger to small children. Additionally, a dog bite by any sized dog can lead to serious infection.
DC Dog Bite Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured in a dog bite accident, you should talk to an experienced DC personal injury attorney about getting compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Your personal injury attorney will help guide you through the claims process and advise you of your options. You should not have to suffer because of a dog owner's negligence. Do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.