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Dog attacks can often result in serious and permanent injuries

Injuries sustained as a result of dog attacks can sometimes be quite serious and result in permanent and disabling injuries.

In April 2014, the Oregonian newspaper reported on two dog attacks. One incident involved a 12-year-old Hillsboro boy who was attacked and bitten on the leg by a Labrador mix. The boy was taken to the hospital, received stitches, and was released. The second dog bite incident involved a Sherwood police officer who brought a lawsuit after being severely bitten by a police dog. According to the lawsuit, the police canine locked its jaws onto the policeman’s arm, inflicting multiple bites and dragging the officer onto the ground. The dog bites were allegedly so severe that tendons were severed causing permanent nerve damage and necessitating surgery and extensive medical treatment.

In the United States, dog bite injuries are all too common. According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 4.5 million Americans are attacked and bitten by dogs each year. Of those bitten, 885,000 require medical attention. Dog bites now account for over 30 percent of all paid homeowners’ insurance liability claims. The average insurance claim for dog attacks is $27,862. This can be expected to increase as medical costs rise in the United States.

The Agency for Healthcare and Quality produced a report in 2010 showing that dog attacks can produce upper and lower limb fractures, internal injuries and open wounds to the head, neck and chest. Crushing injuries are typical of severe dog biting attacks. Fifty percent of those actually hospitalized as the result of a dog attack will require some type of surgery. Some dog biting injuries-especially those to the head or neck-require reconstructive surgery. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the vast majority of dog bite victims tend to be children ages one to 14. Approximately 359,000 children suffer from dog bites each year. Sixty-six percent of injuries to children ages one to four were to the head and neck.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepared a report on dog breeds most often involved in fatal human attacks. This report found Rottweilers, pit bulls and German Shepherds tended to be involved in a disproportionate number of fatal dog attacks on humans. Apart from fatalities, a United Kingdom health information website observes that these same breeds, plus Chows, are the dogs most likely to cause injuries from bites. Pit bulls are found to “have the potential to inflict the most serious injury.”

Safety tips

In conjunction with National Dog Bite Prevention Week, the Oregonian newspaper published the following safety tips which are aimed at preventing dog attack injuries:

  • Ask the owner’s permission before touching or petting a dog.
  • Before petting, let the dog smell your hand first.
  • Pet a dog on the shoulders or chest instead of its head.
  • Do not approach a dog that is off-leash; find the owner or contact animal control.
  • If a dog attacks, try to put something, such as a coat or backpack, between you and the dog.
  • Never approach a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Do not go near a dog tied in a yard or behind a fence.

Seeking compensation

Do not let your child or yourself be the uncompensated victim of a dog attack which sends you to the emergency room for medical treatment. Reconstructive surgery is often times considered elective, and not covered by most health insurance plans. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries as a result of a dog attack, contact an Oregon attorney experienced in handling dog bite cases. The attorney can best advise you on your options for seeking compensation under Oregon law.

Keywords: dog bite, attack, serious injury, legal action, safety tips