Millions of dog bites occur each year, with many of them needing immediate medical care. Sadly, most of these incidents are not the fault of the dog attack victims but of the dog and its handlers. Without a way to seek compensation for these attacks, dog bite victims would have to cover all manner of financial and intangible losses. However, recourse is available for the bitten, which inspires this question: What are average dog bite settlement amounts?
The answer is difficult to ascertain, given that each dog bite case is unique. The losses that each victim experiences are different even when the wound is the same, making it difficult to determine the average dog bite settlement amounts. Talk to a dog bite lawyer to understand the process better.
Common Types of Injuries Caused by Dog Bites
According to the CDC, most dog bite victims experience injuries on the upper half of their bodies, with the arms, head, neck, back, and face accounting for a large percentage of injuries. Depending on the circumstances of the attack, victims will typically experience one or more of the following types of wounds.
Puncture wounds can penetrate all the way to the bone and introduce bacteria and pathogens into a victim’s body. If the dog locks its jaws, a puncture wound can quickly turn into a catastrophic or life-threatening injury.
Abrasions are scrapes on the skin. Although not usually as serious as puncture wounds, abrasions often accompany other types of dog bite injuries. Bleeding may be present with an abrasion.
Lacerations caused by dog bites are not like lacerations caused by sharp objects. Dog bite lacerations typically have jagged or torn edges that almost always require stitches to heal.
Contusions are bruises and occur when blunt force accompanies a dog attack. In some cases, contusions may be present without a bite but are typically found with them. They are especially common in children and smaller adults who get knocked down during a dog attack.
Dogs with powerful jaws can crush bones and destroy many layers of tissue, ligaments, and muscle in the process.
Understanding Why Dogs Attack
Understanding why dogs attack can help individuals and dog owners prevent them from occurring. Some dogs lash out for these reasons:
- Protecting property
- Protecting a person or another animal
- Fear or anxiety
- Medical conditions
- History of aggressiveness
Many times, however, there is no explanation for why a dog attacks.
Liability for Dog Bites
Dog bite victims can seek compensation for their injuries. How this occurs, however, varies from state to state. Generally speaking, states will use one of two types of liability laws when it comes to dog bites: strict liability or the one-bite rule.
States that use the strict liability rule hold that a dog’s owner or handler is strictly liable for the injuries it causes if the dog bite victim was lawfully on the property where the bite occurred and did not provoke the animal.
For example, suppose that a dog bites its owner’s invited guest without provocation. The owner will be liable for the dog bite.
However, if the guest provoked the dog before the bite, the owner might not be liable. Alternatively, suppose that a dog bites someone who is trespassing on its owner’s property. In that case, the owner will also escape liability.
States that use the one-bite rule approach liability a little differently. They hold that a dog owner is only liable for a dog’s bite or attack if they know the dog is prone to biting or attacking.
For example, if a person adopts a rescue dog with a history of aggressive behavior and biting, the owner has the responsibility to warn others of this aggressive history. If they don’t, they face liability if it bites or attacks.
Average Dog Bite Settlement Amounts
The amount of a victim’s dog bite settlement or verdict depends on the nature and extent of the injuries and losses they suffer. Generally, more serious injuries lead to higher average dog bite settlement amounts. However, other factors come into play as well.
Take a dog bite victim’s employment as an example. The law allows victims to recover lost wages occasioned by time off work due to a dog bite. If the victim has a high-paying job, they will get more lost-wage compensation than a victim who has an identical injury but a lower-paying job.
In other words, the specific compensable losses that victims experience vary from victim to victim, even when the injuries are identical. This factor makes it nearly impossible to accurately determine average dog bite settlement amounts
In general, compensable losses are either economic or non-economic in nature:
- Medical treatment costs and expenses
- Lost income and lost economic opportunities
- Costs related to medical equipment and medication
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional suffering or distress
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If a dog bite results in the death of an individual, their loved ones can sue for wrongful death and have access to more compensation, including:
- End-of-life costs and expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium
In all cases involving dog bites or any other type of personal injury, victims who hire attorneys to represent them are in a better position to get higher compensation than those who go through the process without representation.
How to Get Average dog bite settlement amounts
If a dog has attacked you or a loved one, you can seek compensation for your losses. The Joel Bieber Firm represents dog bite victims in claims for compensation against insurance companies and in lawsuits. If you are from Maryland you can talk to our Baltimore personal injury lawyer.
Call today to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer for a free consultation and case review.