How much damage can a dog bite cause? A Florida woman nearly lost an ankle when a 100 pound dog attacked her. After multiple surgeries, she even lost three inches from the afflicted ankle.
The woman was ultimately awarded $1.26 million for her injuries.
Dog bites are extremely common in the United States with several millions of people being bitten or attacked each year, according to the CDC. Injuries range from very minor contusions and abrasions to death. Fortunately, the vast majority of these attacks result in only minor, temporary injuries. Sadly, children are most often the ones to suffer injuries following a dog attack, and such an experience can cause long-term emotional scarring in children along with physical injuries.
A nasty dog bite may cause avulsion, in which layers of skin are torn from the body and this can lead to permanent scarring or require invasive plastic surgery. It is also common to suffer from broken or fractured bones following a bad dog bite. A dog bite, even from a smaller dog, should be taken seriously, since it also possible for the animal to transmit a disease to the victim.
In California, strict liability is imposed on dog owners so victims of a dog attack need not prove liability in a dog bite attack. Furthermore, if the owner of the dog was a homeowner, the victim may be able to make a claim against an applicable policy of insurance.
California law imposes strict liability on the part of a dog owner, especially when the owners knew, or should have known, about a dog’s past aggressive history. Further, California law does not require that an actual puncturing or tearing away of the skin occur. A dog that tackled a person and caused them to slip and fall and injure themselves would still be considered a dog “bite” to impose liability on the owner, for example.
This liability does have exceptions, of course, as when a veterinarian or vet’s assistant handles a dog and is bitten. This is considered to be a “primary assumption of risk” given the profession.
If you are attacked by a dog be sure to seek immediate medical treatment for any wounds you suffer. You should then contact the appropriate authorities and describe the appearance of the dog, the location it attacked you and the owner’s name and address, if known. Finally, be sure to take pictures of your injuries and the location of the attack. If there were any witnesses, try to get their names and numbers to support a claim you may wish to make against the dog owner, if possible try to do this at the time of the attack before any witnesses may vanish for good.