For many thousands of years, the relationship between humans and dogs has been an important one for both sides. Dogs, as pets, have grown to astounding numbers since the domestication of the first dogs in Europe 15,000 years ago. In fact, there are currently nearly 90 million dogs are kept as pets here in the United States. The vast majority of those dogs are friendly and loving, but we must keep in mind that they are, above all, animals that function largely on instinct. Their instinct is generally to protect their territory, as well as those they see as part of their pack, and in doing so, sometimes a dog bite can occur.
First and foremost, dogs are carnivores whose entire bodies are designed to hunt, kill, and eat meat. The CDC reports that about 4.5 million dog bites are reported every year, and about one-fifth of those bites eventually become infected. With an average of 269 pounds per square inch of pressure exerted by a dog’s jaws (far more for a larger dog), the potential for severe injuries is quite high. There is even the possibility of death. Even if the bite is a minor one, the mental trauma involved can be hard to overcome.
Children and men are the most at risk when it comes to being bitten by a dog, especially children that are between 5 and 9 years of age. It may surprise you to find out that over half of all dog bites happen while we are at home, with dogs that we are already familiar with. In fact, in households where two or more dogs are present, there is five times the likelihood that someone will be bitten as compared to someone who does not own dogs.
When you consider a dog’s jaw strength and the size of their teeth, it comes as no surprise that dog bites can result in horribly severe injuries. Dogs, as we have stated, are hunters. When they catch their prey, they instinctively bite down and shake their head in order to injure and kill the prey animal. This instinct is exactly the same when a dog bites or attacks a human. Flesh and muscle are torn away, bones can be broken, and veins and arteries severed. Often these types of injuries occur because the victim is attempting to defend themselves, so they lash out with their legs and arms. The resulting wounds can vary widely, such as:
If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, the first thing you need to do is seek immediate medical attention. Due to the sharp nature of the teeth of a dog, you may experience blood loss from wounds that only a doctor can properly handle. Call 911 if you are unable to get yourself to an emergency room.
As soon as your immediate medical needs are taken care of, contact your local law enforcement agency to make them aware that a bite or attack has taken place. They will likely want a statement from you and any other witnesses regarding the circumstances surrounding the bite, and will then produce a police report based on your statement. You will eventually want to obtain a copy of this report for legal purposes.
Try to obtain as much information about the dog, and it’s owners as possible. Record the location of the incident as well as the dog’s age, breed, and any identifying characteristics. Take pictures or a video of your wounds, the dog, and surroundings if you are able to immediately after the incident has occurred. These images will show how extensive the injuries were when they happened. Take down the names and phone numbers of possible witnesses. All of this evidence will become incredibly important when you seek the damages you are entitled to for medical bills, time off work, pain and suffering, etc.
In the state of Arizona, there is no “one-bite rule,” meaning that the owner of a dog is still liable even if they had no idea that the dog would bite, or the dog had never bitten anyone before. The owner of the dog is liable anytime a bite occurs. The only exception to this is that if the person who received the bite was trespassing on the dog owner’s property, or had provoked the dog in some way that made the dog bite. If either of these scenarios applies, the owner of the dog may not be liable for any damages.
In Arizona, you must file your claim for damages from a dog bite within two years from the date of the incident. If you wait longer than two years, you will not be able to take any legal action to recover damages.
The smartest action you can take if you’ve suffered injuries from a dog bite is to contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced in the laws surrounding dog bites, such as those at the law offices of Parker & Lazzara. We are prepared to secure the evidence needed so that you can receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact us by phone at (480) 456-3080, or via our contact page to set up a free, confidential consultation.