Pet owners are common in communities across America. So, it’s not surprising that dogs bite almost five million Americans a year. Some of these incidents are not much more than annoying. But many of them cause serious physical and emotional injuries, as outlined below.
Largely due to the complex nature of these injuries, along with rising hospitalization costs since the end of the Great Recession, the average dog bite settlement amount has increased 76 percent since 2003. These settlement amounts usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Occasionally, these settlements also include additional punitive damages.
To successfully resolve animal attack claims, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must understand the nature of dog bite injuries and how they affect victims as well as families.
Every dog bite case is different. But most serious injury claims involve large mastiff breed animals, like pit bulls or rottweilers, and small children or other vulnerable victims.
When a big dog launches itself toward a small child, the knockdown by itself usually causes serious injuries. Some of them include:
- Head Injuries: Contrary to popular myth, the impact of hitting the ground is not the only issue here. The sudden, violent motion might be enough to cause a head injury. This motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
- Internal Injuries: This same force causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since these organs lack protective skin layers, they often bleed profusely. Frequently, doctors have a hard time identifying and stopping internal bleeding.
- Broken Bones: When children fall off their bikes, the broken bones usually set easily and heal completely. But when large dogs attack small children, the broken bones do not mend nearly as easily. Doctors typically use metal screws or plates to set them, and even after physical therapy, there may be some permanent loss of use.
In most cases, the knockdown is just the beginning. When dogs bite, their teeth cause tearing lacerations and deep puncture wounds. The lacerations often require delicate reconstructive surgery to correct, and the deep puncture wounds make the aforementioned internal bleeding even worse. In fact, many small children lose so much blood that they are on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive.
Dog bite injuries have very high infection rates. The most common bacterial infections are Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Capnocytophaga, and Pasteurella. If the victim had a pre-existing condition or a compromised immune system, as is often the case, these infections are often life-threatening.
A tiny amount of bacteria can cause a serious anaphylactic or other reaction. So, if a dog bites your child, it’s always important to see a doctor straightaway, even if the child does not seem seriously injured.
Brainerd, MN injury lawyers do more than obtain compensation for all these medical bills. Attorneys also arrange for victims to receive prompt medical care, usually at no upfront cost. Providers who focus on dog bite injuries typically provide this care. These providers know how to identify and treat things like head injuries and bacterial infections. These conditions are normally hard to diagnose and address.
Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and Emotional Animal Attack Injuries
Many child victims develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Frequently, the symptoms do not appear for several months. So, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must not move to settle such cases too quickly. If that happens, the victims might not receive fair compensation for all their injuries.
PTSD is a physical brain injury. It is not a processing disorder. Therefore, PTSD is permanent. Once brain cells are damaged, they never regenerate. That being said, extensive therapy can address symptoms like nightmares, depression, hypervigilance, and flashbacks. So, former victims can still have normal childhoods.
Your Claim for Damages
To obtain the aforementioned compensation, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers have several options. Minnesota has a very broad strict liability law. Owners are technically responsible for damages even if the dog had never bitten anyone before and had never shown any dangerous propensities.
Scienter (knowledge) is another option. Owners are liable for damages if they knew their animals were potentially dangerous yet they did nothing to keep them away from people. Evidence of knowledge includes previous attacks and pre-bite behavior, like loud barking or sudden lunging.
Insurance company defenses in dog bite claims usually revolve around the assumption of the risk rule. Specific facts include provocative behavior or a “Beware of Dog” sign. These defenses do not always hold up in court. In Minnesota, provocation is far more than aggressive teasing. And, warning signs are only legally valid in certain situations.
Contact a Tenacious Attorney
Animal attack victims are entitled to substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.