Types Of Compensation For Dog Bites

Considering all the homes in the US that have pets, it shouldn't be a big surprise that over 800,000 Americans are treated for dog bites and attacks every single year. Depending on the current laws where you live, and the circumstances around the event, most of the time dog owners are held responsible for any injury or damage caused by their pet.

This means that the person who owns the dog--or, sometimes, their insurance company--will pay for damages or harm to the person that got bit.

Dog Bite Statistics

First, let's go over some dog bite stats, courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association:

According to the AVMA, 1 in 5 dog bites require medical attention.

The AVMA also states that the age group at the highest risk for dog bites is children. These incidents also tend to be the most severe examples of dog bite and injury.

Most dog bites are from dogs that children are familiar with; family dogs, neighborhood animals, etc.

The second most common dog bite victims are senior citizens.

What Damages Are Included?

If a dog bite occurs, what kinds of damages could the victim be entitled to? Here are some examples:

  • Medical Bills: This includes any medical care, surgeries, hospital services, pharmaceutical bills, physical therapy or even psychological treatment.
  • Pain/Suffering: When you get bitten by a dog there is often psychological and mental or emotional pain attached to the experience, in addition to the physical harm. Emotional distress, pain from the bite, and the attack itself will all be included in the Pain and Suffering category.
  • Loss of Income: If you cannot work due to a dog bite (either because of the physical dog bite or because of the emotional trauma) this is considered a loss of income.
  • Property Damage: Most victims of dog bites don't even bother with property damages because it rarely happens. However, if there is collateral damage, such as your purse being ripped, or your eyeglasses being broken in the attack, you may be entitled to compensation.
  • Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensation for injuries or costs sustained, meaning that they are strictly meant as punishment to the defendant. If a dog owner was reckless or neglectful in safety measures for a dog that was a known risk, they could be subject to punitive damages. Some examples of neglectful behavior include:
    • Letting a dog outside without a leash on.
    • Buying and keeping a dog breed that is not allowed in a specific state or neighborhood.
    • Leaving the gate open to the yard.

Determining Responsibility

It should be noted that if the victim shares any blame in why the bite or the attack happened, the compensation could be reduced. Some examples:

  1. You're walking down the street and see a gated yard with a sign that says: Warning--Do Not Pet Dog. You pet it anyway and get bitten.
  2. The dog bite was provoked because you were teasing or harrassing the dog.

Although we like to classify some dogs as "safe" and others as "dangerous," it's important to remember that any dog can bit. Even if a sweet, well-socialized dog can be dangerous if it is put in a situation in which it feels scared or unsure.

If you've been bitten or attacked by a dog and want to talk to a lawyer about your case, contact Welmaker for more information.