A dog attack can happen fast – one moment you're out for a run, enjoying a walk, or checking your mail, then, suddenly, you're being viciously attacked. Serious injuries and expensive recovery can be the results of a dog bite attack. On this page, we'll walk you through various FAQs and legal points that apply to dog bite attacks and potential legal recovery.
If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog and suffered injuries, our dog bite lawyers in Arizona and New Mexico can help you navigate this confusing and potentially costly situation. For a no-cost initial case review, give us a call or send us a text at 602-345-1818. You can also fill out the form on this page, and we will reach out to you to schedule an appointment.
Anyone Can Be a Victim – the Stats
Dog-bite injuries happen more frequently than one would think. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data, about 4.5 million dog bites happen every year with nearly 800,000 of those attacks requiring medical attention and resulting in healthcare expenses. Depending on the severity of the attack, victims may also have an extensive road to physical recovery, resulting in future medical expenses. Many dog bite victims are children, which may cause serious emotional trauma, post-traumatic stress, and other psychological damages.
So, just how big is this problem? The following stats further highlight the seriousness and prevalence of dog bites and attacks:
- According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, over 28,000 reconstructive surgical procedures were performed in 2015 because of dog bite attacks
- There was an 82 percent increase in dog bite-related fatalities in the United States from 1980 to 2012.
- In terms of financial damages, US dog bite victims have incurred nearly $1 billion in monetary losses annually, as reported by State Farm. It's been speculated by the American Medical Association that the estimated amount of $1 billion yearly may even be lower than the actual number, according to an analysis of insurance claims by the organization.
- It's also reported that the average in-patient hospitalization for dog bite victims is $18,200, which is significantly higher than average in-patient bills for other injuries ($12,100).
The data shows that dog-bite injuries are common and cost victims and insurance companies large sums of money every year. If you've been hurt in a dog attack, you aren't alone, and there may be legal options to help you recover physically, emotionally, and financially. Our Phoenix dog bite lawyers will help you walk through these options and fight for your recovery.
Common Injuries from Dog Bites
According to a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services, common injuries from dog-bite attacks include injuries to the skin, arms, legs, head, neck, and torso. Other medical issues from dog attacks included bone fractures, infection, and blood poisoning. Prevalent injuries victims sustain from dog attacks include:
- Deep cuts and lacerations to the skin
- Damage to the face and eyes
- Nerve and tissue damage
- Injuries to muscles and tendons
- Injuries to the spinal cord and neck
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Broken and fractured bones
- Loss of blood
- Head and brain trauma, especially as a result of falls during the attack
How to Measure the Severity of a Dog Bite
A 6-level scale is often used by professionals to rate the severity of dog bites:
- Level 1 - This is the least serious level. It categorizes behavior that is aggressive but does not cause the dog to make contact with the person's skin. Often, this is a dog intending to scare someone with a warning.
- Level 2 - These bites are a little more serious, as they do make contact with the person's skin. However, Level-2 bites do not break or puncture the skin. These bites are more aggressive than level-1 bites, and it's a clear sign that the dog does not want you in its area.
- Level 3 - The majority of canine aggression falls into this category. Level-3 classification indicates when a dog has broken the skin with its teeth. These bites will leave 1 - 4 teeth-mark wounds with no puncture being deeper than half the size of the dog's canine teeth.
- Level 4 - These bites leave 1 - 4 punctures from the dog's teeth, with at least one puncture being deeper than half the size of the dog's canine teeth. Bruising around the wound may appear, which is the result of the dog shaking its head from side to side. According to experts, at this level, the dog should be kept away from humans until the situation has been assessed by a professional.
- Level 5 - This level represents multiple level-4 bites and/or multiple attacks. At this level, the dog's prognosis is negative. The dog poses a significant danger to people and other animals.
- Level 6 - Dog-bite fatalities (human and animal) fall into this category.
Potential Compensation After Dog Bites
After a dog bite incident, you may be entitled to various legal damages. Your compensation will depend on your specific dog bite case, so it's advisable to speak with a dog bite lawyer to obtain information on your potential legal compensation. As with all personal injury claims, dog bite claims are intended to provide you with the opportunity to recover after suffering losses and damages due to a dog bite attack.
After a dog bite, you may be entitled to financial and non-financial damages, which may include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Home modification expenses (related to your injury)
- Home cleaning or maintenance costs (if you are unable to maintain your home because of your injury)
- Medication costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Depression and anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Severe physical pain
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
Use our online injury settlement calculator for more information on what your dog bite claim compensation may include.
Liability in Arizona Dog Bite Cases
Arizona adheres to “strict liability” in dog bite cases, meaning that the dog's owner is liable for all injuries and damages. A.R.S. § 11-1025. To move forward with a claim, the victim must prove that his or her injury was the result of the dog bite. Negligence does not have to be proven, and, as long as the victim can prove that he or she was a lawful guest or invitee to the dog owner's private property or the public space where the incident happened, the dog's owner is liable for the dog bite incident.
Liability in New Mexico Dog Bite Cases
New Mexico is different from Arizona in its legal handlings of dog bite cases. New Mexico does not have a specific statute regarding dog bite liability, however, the state does acknowledge a “uniform jury instruction.” For dog bite incidents, this means that if the owner knew, or should have known, that the dog was vicious or that the dog had a tendency to display viciousness, the owner should be held liable for damages directly caused by the dog bite. If the victim knew about the dog's potential aggression/viciousness or intentionally took actions to excite the dog or put himself or herself in the dog's way, the owner of the dog will not be held liable for the dog bite injuries.
Despite New Mexico not having specific legislation to address dog bite liability, there may be various ways for a plaintiff to recover, including filing suit under the theory of negligence. This means proving that the dog's owner was negligent in his or her actions, which caused the dog bite to happen. In this case, the victim would still have to have no prior knowledge of the dog's tendency toward aggression or have provoked the dog in any way to cause the bite or attack.
If you have suffered losses due to a dog bite in New Mexico, consult a dog bite lawyer to understand what legal options may be available to you based on your specific situation.
What to Do Next
Our NM and Arizona dog bite attorneys provide free initial case reviews. To schedule your free case review, call or text us at 602-345-1818 or fill out the contact form on this page. If you've sustained injuries and damages from a dog bite attack, there may be legal remedies available to help you recover and get your life, finances, and health back on track.