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Legal options for people injured by dog attacks

Annually, greater than 4.5 million individuals in the United States are bitten by dogs. Of that number, nearly one out of every five individuals bitten by a dog requires medical treatment for their injuries. Each year, greater than 800,000 individuals, at least half of them children, receives medical treatment and attention for a dog bite. In addition, children are more likely to be severely injured by dog bites. Proper training, socialization and education of pets and communities are tools to help minimize the number of dog bites that occur.

Sometimes referred to as a public health crisis, dog bites can have a serious impact on the lives of victims. Being attacked by an animal can leave emotional and physical scars for victims to face far into the future. Because of the significant impact of a dog attack, victims may suffer medical expenses, including future medical expenses; lost earnings; scarring or disfigurement; and pain and suffering damages. Victims may be able to recover damages for the different types of physical, financial and emotional damages they suffer following a dog bite attack.

To protect members of the public innocently harmed in a dog attack, a dog bite claim does not require that the victim prove fault on the part of the dog's owner. Provided that the victim did not tease, torment or abuse the dog, the victim who has suffered harm as the result of a dog bite attack can seek compensation for damages through a dog bite claim.

The legal process related to dog bite attacks is designed to protect victims and ensure they are properly protected when harm. When confronted with the devastating aftermath and consequences of a dog attack, it is important that dog bite victims understand the options available to help them through the legal system.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association, "Dog Bite Prevention," Accessed April 5, 2015

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