Dog Bites/Dangerous Animals

A dog can be a wonderful part of your family. As a nation of dog-lovers, our pets bring us joy, love, and companionship.

Unfortunately, some of them also bite. Those bites can sometimes be quite serious, resulting in major injuries. A person who possesses a dangerous animal can be held liable for injuries it causes, if the animal is inherently dangerous. Some domestic animals like dogs are not inherently dangerous. However, if a dog's owner knew or should have known the animal had a propensity for danger or a vicious tendency the owner can be held liable.

At Whiting Hagg Hagg Dorsey & Hagg, LLP, our dog bite injury attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent clients in the wake of a serious or even fatal dog attack.

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Dog Bite Injuries

Severity of dog bite injuries depends on many factors, including type of breed, size of the victim, duration of the attack and how quickly the victim received medical attention. When an adult is attacked, usually injuries are sustained to arms, legs and torso. Since children are similar in size or height to dogs, they are more vulnerable to dog bites around their head, face, and neck.

Common injuries reported among dog bite victims include:

  • Abrasions
  • Lacerations
  • Punctures
  • Tissue loss
  • Crush injuries
  • Fractured bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Scars
  • Infections, such as rabies and C. canimorsus

All dog bite victims should first seek immediate medical attention, even if the wound doesn’t initially seem severe. At the very least, doctors will want to prescribe antibiotics to ensure a serious infection does not develop from the dog bite. Also, speak with the dog owner and verify vaccinations so the doctor can be properly informed.

Dog bites should also be reported to the local animal control office.

Unfortunately, serious dog bites are often inflicted by a family pet or one loved by a neighbor, family member, or close friend.  Many times, damages for dog bite injury lawsuits are paid by homeowners’ insurance claims.

Our injury attorneys work as amicably as possible to file these claims, so as to secure your compensation, but also preserve your relationships with neighbors who could have foreseen the event but simply failed to take responsible steps to prevent an attack.

Preventing Dog Bites

With proper training and supervision, most dogs won’t become a risk to others.  However, these are factors most likely beyond your control. The American Kennel Club informs us that this means owners must properly socialize their dog, which reduces the risk they will bite out of fear. Dogs should also be well-trained to obey basic commands of “sit,” “down,” “stay” and “heel,” and to drop toys on command so no one has to reach into their mouth to retrieve it.

Owners should be especially cautious when introducing a dog to new situations or in environments where it may feel teased or threatened. Teaching the dog non-aggressive games like fetch (as opposed to tug-of-war) can help reduce inappropriate behavior.

Animals at Large

The owner or person having control of a domestic animal is under no legal obligation to restrain it from being at large on a highway unattended and is not liable for injuries resulting from the animal being at large, unless the owner or person having charge of the animal has knowledge of vicious propensities of the animal or should reasonably have anticipated that the injury complained of would result from it being at large on the highway. Our firm has handled many accidents where cows, bulls, and even buffalo have strayed and caused serious injury.

Inherently Dangerous Animals

A person who possesses an inherently dangerous animal is liable for injuries caused by the animal regardless of the degree of care exercised by an owner in controlling the animal or the precautions taken by the owner to prevent the animal from causing injury. However, the possessor of the animal may not be liable if the injured party is guilty of negligence that contributed directly to the injury.

Additionally, a person injured by the animal is barred from recovery if the person intentionally and unreasonably came or remained within reach of the animal or intentionally and unreasonably exposed himself or herself to the risk of harm by the animal.

Those who have suffered injury in the Black Hills as a result of a dog bite, an animal at large, or an inherently dangerous animal should contact our experienced legal team at 605-348-1125.