Dog bites can cause serious physical and emotional injuries and dog owners can be held responsible, according to Rand Spear, Philadelphia’s accident attorney.
Though most dogs are not violent or threatening to people, those that do bite can inflict serious physical and emotional harm. Rand Spear, Philadelphia’s accident attorney, represents dog bite victims and discusses dog bite injuries and applicable laws in a recent Google+ hangout.
If you don’t own a dog chances are your neighbor, a friend or family member does. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers statistics on dogs and the harm they can do.
- There were 70 million dogs in the U.S. in 2011.
- 36.5% of homes have at least one dog residing in it.
- Dogs bite 4.5 million people every year and 20% of them require medical attention.
- 27% of those getting medical care undergo reconstructive surgery.
- There were 31 dog bite related fatalities in 2013.
- 359,223 children aged one to fourteen were dog bite victims from 2010 to 2012.
- 66% were four years old or younger suffering from head and neck wounds.
- Each year the cost of these bites is an estimated $483 million.
- A third of all homeowner liability insurance claims were dog bite related in 2013.
- The average insurance pay out that year was $28,035.
The Insurance Information Institute states Pennsylvania was the fifth highest state for the number of dog bite insurance claims in 2014, totaling 861 claims worth $22.6 million. The highest ranked state is California with 1,867 claims worth $62.8 million.
Spear says the cases he sees are not from lap dogs biting ankles. “I’ve had some very serious injury cases. The bites can be really awful. You can end up needing plastic surgery. They’re very serious injuries that can land you in the hospital,” he says.
“The owner of a dog is absolutely responsible for the actions of their pet. You don’t want to antagonize a dog or incite it; that would not be appropriate. But if you are not doing anything to incite the dog and it bites you the owner is responsible,” Spear says.
The emotional harm due to a dog attack could be worse than the physical harm, according to Spear. “I’ve had cases where the emotional impact has been so severe that victims are afraid to go out in public, around animals and sometimes they never get over it.” He says it can be especially bad if the dog is owned by a neighbor and the victim fears leaving the house.
The types of damages available to successful dog bite victims who sue the dog’s owner include pain and suffering, disfigurement, wage loss and medical expenses.
Just as in other types of injury cases, Spear suggests dog bite victims document the incident as well as possible to help bolster possible legal claims. They should take photos of the dog, where the attack took place, wounds and scars. The name of the owner and where the dog lives are also critical information.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog, get medical attention then promptly call dog bite lawyer Rand Spear’s office at 888-373-4LAW to protect your legal rights. He helps those injured in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.