Unlike any of our previous posts, today in this blog I will be covering a rather sensitive topic revolving around dog bites and their legal consequences. However fair warning, this topic can be sensitive to few and therefore reader discretion is advised.
Can you Sue for a Minor Dog Bite?
YES!!! Apparently in many states even the tiniest of dog bites can have legal consequences for the pet owner. This usually includes a prosecution from the victim’s side with the provision of monetary and medical benefits as compromise. However, it solely depends upon the local and regional laws as well as the severity of the minor dog bite.
For instance, some state laws categorise minor dog bites as non-serious grievances which can be settled with a warning or a small fine. However at the same time, other regions, like California, Texas, etc impose strict rules against such mishaps. So if my dog bites someone within these areas, I will have to pay a hefty fine including a compulsory serving of prison time, based upon the severity and after-effects of the bite wound.
Why does the State impose such strict laws?
Given the recent increase in the number of dog bite accidents, several states in and around the USA and the UK have implemented strict laws. Also referred to as Dog Bite Laws, these guidelines revolve around the protection and prevention of the public against unmonitored and unruly domesticated canines and their ignorant pawrents.
However, apart from offering legal and financial aid to the affected victims, these rules have also proven quite beneficial in reducing the total number of reported rabies cases. Given the stringent attitude towards such accidents, pet parents are always needed to carefully follow through their canine’s vaccination schedule. This in turn helps eliminate exposure of the pet dogs to the highly infectious rabies virus, thereby bringing down the overall number of cases in the region.
What kind of injury counts as a Minor Dog Bite?
Anything ranging from a simple scratch to bite marks that may or may not have broken skin can count as a minor dog bite. These are by far the least threatening kind of attacks a dog can do, but based upon many factors even these bites have the potential to turn into something lethal.
Some of these factors include: the dog’s existing health condition, exposure to external infectious conditions, after-care of the injury, health condition of the victim, etc. For instance, if you are scratched by a dog that hasn’t been vaccinated properly, then the risk of contaminating rabies or other extreme septic conditions gets much higher as compared to that of a dog whose vaccination records are up-to-date.
The same also goes for the victim’s health condition. A healthy person will bounce back to health much faster and easily than an individual who is already suffering from a medical issue.
Are there any conditions to be met before filing a lawsuit against a minor dog bite?
Even though most local and regional laws provide easy filing of lawsuits against dog bite cases, there are a few requirements that need to be met.
NOTE- These requirements will vary from region to region and therefore consulting with a professional before pressing charges is best advised.
- The dog bite must have happened across a public setting or within a lawfully private place.
- The owner must have invited the injured over to their private property on their own accord.
- Your actions prior to the dog bite must in no way violate the state laws or the safety and privacy of the owner.
- The victim should not be found trespassing, attempting to unauthorised entry, threatening or provoking the owner, any family members and even the dog.
- The victim should not be interfering with the work of regulated government agencies using trained dogs, including the military and police.
- The injured should not be threatening or hampering the life of a government agent safeguarded by a trained canine.
These are a few requirements that are mandated in almost all dog bite laws and hence before you think of suing for a minor dog bite, make sure all conditions are being met. If found otherwise guilty, the party that’s being charged along with the court reserves rights to pressing counter-sue which could end up putting you in a much more difficult state.
Apart from these, you will also be required to submit a prescription from one of the many authorised doctors operating under the Court before the final step can be taken before filing a lawsuit. The prescription must mention the side effects of the dog bite (any infections or diseases), treatment required, duration of treatment, name, address and sign of the injured as well as the doctor.
How much will I be Compensated for a Minor Dog Bite?
Based upon the type of injury, after-effects and existing state laws, the final fine is calculated. However on an average, financial compensation for minor dog bites includes the owner paying for the medical bills of the victim. This could either be the entire amount or half of it, as directed by the court.
In extreme cases, the owner may even have to compensate the injured by not only paying for their medical bills but also with an after-care reimbursement. This fine is decided by the court and neither of the two parties have a say in it.
Once decided, the guilty has to pay the amount within a certain period, which upon failing incurs much more severe legal consequences. This includes prison time, added penalties, and even eviction from being the rightful owner of the canine in question. However, some courts can be lenient if provided with sufficient legit reasons. So, if you are on the guilty side and unable to pay the fines, make sure to consult with a professional helping hand or try submitting documents that could buy you some additional time legally to the Court.
What are the other types of dog bites that I can sue?
Depending upon the severity, dog breed, temperament, reason of attack, age of the victim, these are types of dog bites that can be charged.
Minor Dog Bites
In this type of dog bite, the dog will generally leave a small sign. This could be a result due to contact with their nails, teeth, or even body. Such injuries may or may not have blood coming out of them and are the least life-threatening for the injured.
What I can do (victim side)- Minor Dog bites can be sued if the local or regional laws allow the victims to do so. The guilty usually have to pay a small fine or pay reimbursement fee for medical bills.
Moderate Dog Bites
These kinds of dog bites are usually coupled with several dog bite punctures and other bruises that may spread across a large part of the victim’s body or at a particular area. Injuries like this risk exposure to severe pain, sepsis and even rabies contamination. Hence if such a mishap occurs, immediate medical assistance is a must.
What I can do (victim side)- Serious lawsuits can be filed against both the canine and their owner with the provision for high reimbursement fees, partial or full coverage of medical bills and even imprisonment of the owner if requested by the suing party.
Severe Dog Bites
Most commonly reported injuries in severe dog bites include puncture wounds that are deep, lead to fractures, rupture of nerves, and bone injuries. The victim has to spend quite a fortune in their medical bills and even spend a lot of time recovering from the trauma. Such dog attacks often disrupt the victim’s psychological setting, causing sudden anxiety or panic attacks and may also leave them with a life-long terror towards dogs.
What I can do (victim side)- Same provision as in the case of moderate dog bites. However additionally the pawrent’s rights to having a dog can also be revoked temporarily if found negligent of proper dog training and control on their canine.
Extreme Dog Bites
Finally, the most dangerous of all, extreme dog bites is when the victim is severely mauled by a pet dog. This could end up with the injured being going into a life-threatening coma or death. This is the ultimate dog attack type which causes a lot of casualties.
What I can do (victim side)- Usually such cases are dealt with the most strict punishments often involving hefty fines along with imprisonment of the owner. On top of that pet owning rights are forever revoked and the pet may be either sent to a correctional facility or put down by a professional veterinarian operating under the Court or jurisdiction.
What should I do if a dog bites me?
Follow this step-by-step guide in case you or someone nearby is attacked by a dog.
- No matter the injury severity, immediately call an ambulance. Also don’t forget to intimate regulatory authorities (police) regarding the mishap.
- Take photographs of the injury or if you have recorded the whole incident, submit the evidence to the police.
- Describe the whole scenario to the officials, identify both the dog and the owner and try not to miss any important details.
- If required, consult a professional dog bite lawyer and sue the guilty as mentioned under the local or regional laws.
So, this was all about minor dog bites and if or not you can sue them.
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