According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC,) approximately 4.5 million, dog bites occur in the U.S. each year, and over 800,000 of those injured will require medical care.
The treatment of dog bite injuries can be expensive. Yet, many dog bite victims don’t report the attack or seek compensation for their injuries. Let’s take a look at why victims may hesitate to report the incident and discuss the many ways an experienced Cleveland dog bite attorney can help.
Dog Bite Injuries
Dog bites can cause serious injuries, such as abrasions, lacerations, and puncture wounds. In more severe cases, injuries can include compound fractures, internal injuries, permanent nerve damage, disfigurement, and lingering emotional trauma.
It is estimated that 10-15% of dog bites lead to infections. Dogs carry more than 600 different types of bacteria in their mouths, including those that cause serious, even life-threatening diseases, such as tetanus, rabies, and the antibiotic-resistant staph infection known as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.)
The High Cost of a Dog Bite Injury
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ,) a dog bite-related hospital stay costs over $20,000, totaling around $54 million each year. These figures do not include the costs of reconstructive surgery that may also be needed. Every year, nearly 27,000 dog bite victims undergo restorative surgery, totaling millions of dollars. In the U.S. alone, the annual cost for the treatment of dog bite injuries is more than $1 billion.
Why Victims of Dog Attacks in Cleveland Often Don’t Take Action
Dog bite injuries often cause serious long-term injuries and severe financial hardship. So why don’t many victims take action to obtain the compensation they deserve? Several reasons may contribute to their hesitation, such as:
- Many dog attack victims are not familiar with the laws relating to dog bites and may be unaware that Ohio is a “strict liability” state. This means when you or a loved one is bitten within our state, the dog’s owner, keeper, or harborer (a person in charge of the place where the dog lives) is liable for the injuries and damages caused by the dog, whether that person was negligent. A victim and their Cleveland dog bite lawyer must only prove he or she was bitten by the dog and sustained injuries caused by the attack. There is no need to show a history of biting incidents to prove liability.
- A victim may avoid taking action because they fear the liable party, such as a family member, friend, or neighbor, will suffer severe financial hardship. They may be unaware that the insurance company typically assumes the costs under the dog owner’s policy. Liability coverage for a dog bite claim ranges from $100,000 to $300,000, depending on the incident’s circumstances.
- Some victims don’t immediately realize the true extent of the damages caused by the incident. A dog bite injury can cost thousands, tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands of dollars. If a victim does not pursue a dog bite claim, they may be left to cover the expenses, causing an extreme financial burden.
- Dog bite victims may not consider that taking action can not only secure the much-needed compensation but will also prevent future victims from being attacked.
Pursuing Simultaneous Claims
In the state of Ohio, a dog bite victim can pursue claims under both the “strict liability” statute and common law negligence to recover damages resulting from the same incident. Common law negligence is the basis for the majority of civil lawsuits. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to exercise the expected degree of care. When the lack of care results in injuries and other damages, the victim has the right to receive compensation.
Dog Owner Liability
There are times when a dog owner is not legally responsible for the injuries sustained in a dog bite incident. This typically occurs when:
- The injured party provoked the dog.
- He or she tormented, teased, or abused the dog.
- The individual was unlawfully trespassing on the dog owner’s property.
- The injured person was breaking the law at the time of the incident.
There are times when the injured party provokes a dog. For example, he or she may accidentally step on its tail, or pet the dog while it is eating. Although the individual did not intentionally provoke the animal, the dog is still considered provoked by the person’s actions.
The injured person must have lawfully been on the property where the incident took place. If an owner could have reasonably expected someone to be on their property, for example, a person delivering a package, the owner will likely be liable for the person’s injuries. Dog owners are also liable for injuries sustained by a child who wanders onto their property. The owner has a legal responsibility to keep the child from coming onto the property and prevent the dog from injuring the child.
A landlord is typically not liable for a Cleveland dog attack. Although the landlord may be viewed as the person who controls the place where the dog lives, the renter has exclusive possession and control of the property. If the incident takes place in an area, such as a shared hallway or a community courtyard, the landlord may be liable as the landlord has control over these common areas. Also, if a landlord is aware of a dog’s vicious or aggressive behavior and allows it to remain on the property, they may be legally responsible.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims
In Ohio, a dog bite victim has six years from the date of the incident to file a claim against the owner, keeper, or harborer of the animal. If the victim is a child, they have six years after they turn 18 to file a dog bite suit.
This, however, does not mean that waiting to file a claim is in your best interest. Your Cleveland dog bite lawyer will recommend acting sooner rather than later as there will be substantial evidence to gather and much to be accomplished to pursue a successful dog bite claim.
A Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog bite, it is best to seek skilled and dedicated legal representation. Our experienced dog bite injury lawyers in Cleveland will handle every aspect of the process by:
- Preparing and filing all necessary documents for your dog bite claim.
- Performing an in-depth investigation into the incident, including interviewing witnesses.
- Expertly compiling all medical reports, incident reports, and any additional evidence needed to support your claim.
- Analyzing all insurance policies to determine coverage for your injuries and damages.
- Obtaining a variety of experts to assist in investigations, evaluations, and the preparation of essential reports.
- Reviewing all laws and cases related to your dog bite claim.
- Negotiating fair and reasonable compensation with the relevant insurance company.
- Beginning trial proceedings if negotiations do not result in a suitable settlement. This includes requests for pertinent information from the defendant, depositions, and the filing of all necessary motions and briefs.
- Answering all of your questions and addressing all of your concerns.
- Advising you of any developments in your case.
Speak with a Dedicated Dog Bite Injury Lawyer in Cleveland
If you or someone you love has been injured in a dog bite attack, contact our trusted Cleveland dog bite injury lawyers at Slater & Zurz by calling (888) 534-4850. You can call us day or night, fill out our online form, or begin an online chat on our webpage. You are entitled to fair compensation for the injuries and damages you sustained. We genuinely care about your well-being and will work aggressively to get you the compensation you deserve.