Dog Bite Injuries
Although Americans, as well as Alabamians, decidedly love their dogs and often consider them part of the family, pet ownership comes with the knowledge that dogs are descendants of wild animals and are ultimately capable of unpredictable behavior. Some 4.7 million Americans per year are bitten by dogs, half of whom are children between the ages of five and nine years old. Some 9,500 people per year are hospitalized due to the seriousness of their dog bite injuries. In addition to dog bite wounds, dog attacks can result in sprains, broken bones, lacerations, infections and many other health and medical issues.
The Birmingham dog bite attorneys at Hollis Wright are well versed in the laws that dictate what determines if and to what extent a dog bite victim will be able to receive compensation for, not only physical injuries, but also emotional distress and mental anguish following a dog attack. Hollis Wright has the resources, experience and knowledge to ensure that every aspect of your dog bite case is covered, so that you receive what you deserve after being hurt by a dog. Please contact us as soon as possible after the incident if you or a family member has been hurt or killed in a dog attack.
Additionally, it is of the utmost importance that you receive medical attention immediately after the dog attack. Dog attack injuries can be extremely dangerous, and your health should be your primary concern. Additionally, it is extremely helpful in pursuing these claims to have medical records of your injuries. Typically, these claims are paid by the homeowner's insurance company for the dog owner. If medical records regarding the claimed injuries don't exist, then the insurance company will impulsively conclude that your injuries are not that bad and will offer a lesser amount of money to settle your claim.
National Dog Bite Statistics
There are numerous national dog bite statistics that highlight the seriousness of dog bite injuries and the need for owners or possessors to control their dogs. According to DogBite.org, 521 Americans were killed as a result of dog attacks over a recent 15-year period. Pit Bulls contributed to 66% (346) of these deaths and rottweilers contributed to 10% (52) of these deaths. Of the remaining deaths, 35 different dog breeds were involved in the attacks. Other interesting and tragic statistics are:
- In 2019 alone, 27% of the fatalities involved children ages 9-years and younger.
- The age group of 30-60 year-olds seems to be the greatest affected age group.
- Non-family dogs account for approximately 45% of the fatalities on average.
- 25% to 30% of the fatal dog attacks typically involve a babysitter, grandparent, or a person watching the dog.
In Alabama, there are two primary forms of liability for dog attacks: statutory homeowner liability and liability on the part of the homeowner who had previous knowledge of a dog attack or bite.
- An injury on a dog owner's property follows Alabama's statutory law. In this scenario, it is immaterial whether the animal has or has not shown previous dangerous behavior. The animal's owner is responsible for all medical expenses incurred by the victim. Homeowners who had previous knowledge of the dog's propensity for possible aggression may also be responsible for damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages and permanent injury or scarring. Dog-related injury claims are responsible for more than one-third of all homeowner's insurance liability claims in dollars paid out.
- Under the law that holds owners responsible if their animal has previously behaved in a dangerous manner, dog owners are liable for injuries only if they did not take reasonable measures to prevent a future attack. This is often referred to as the "one bite rule," allowing an animal one bite before its dangerousness is established. However, an owner can have knowledge of the dog's dangerousness even where there has been questionable behavior and not necessarily an attack.
Courts have ruled that the dangerousness of a dog can be satisfied based on a breed's reputation alone, even where there is no prior attack or aggressive behavior. For this reason, it is important for you to know what type of dog was responsible for the attack. As a homeowner, it is important to know these breeds before purchasing or possessing these types of dogs. The commonly-recognized top 10 dangerous dogs are as follows:
- Pit Bull
- Wolf Hybrid
- Bull Mastiff
- German Shepherd
- Pit Bull Mix
- Chow Chow
- Do choose a family pet with an even temperament.
- Do not interact with an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not leave small children alone with any dog.
- Do not try to interact with a dog that is eating or feeding puppies.
- Do approach dogs slowly.
- Do not run away and scream if a dog becomes aggressive. Instead, move away slowly, stay calm, and do not make eye contact with the animal.
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If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a dog bite incident, call the Birmingham dog bite attorneys at Hollis, Wright & Clay, P.C. You can contact us here or call 205.324.3600 or 1.844.LAW.TALK for a FREE consultation. We handle all cases on a contingency-fee basis, meaning our attorneys only get paid if they recover money for you.