Dog bites can be highly traumatic, resulting in much more than physical pain. Often, a dog bite attack victim also suffers severe disfigurement and psychological damage that may include a long-term fear of dogs. Unfortunately, these often-preventable attacks occur at an alarming rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that roughly 4.5 million people are attacked by dogs each year, and 20% of dog bite victims need medical assistance for their injuries.
Fortunately, the state of Ohio has enacted a series of laws which hold dog owners responsible for the actions of their pets. If you've been the victim of a dog bite attack, Anthony Castelli can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
You can learn about your rights and options after suffering a dog bite injury by speaking with Mr. Castelli in person. Please call (513) 621-2345 today to schedule your free consultation at our Cincinnati office.
Every Dog Bite is Serious
Every dog bite, no matter how small, needs to be taken seriously. Dog saliva contains the bacteria capnocytophaga canimorsus, which can cause a wound to become seriously infected and lead to sepsis. In severe cases, going into septic shock may result in amputation of a limb.
This makes it crucial that you clean and disinfect the wound immediately. As a precaution, it's often a good idea to take antibiotics in order to prevent a serious infection from developing. This is particularly true if you suffer from a condition impacting your immune system.
What to Do after a Dog Bite
You'll need to take several important actions immediately after a dog bite attack to safeguard your health and protect your rights. As discussed above, you may be at risk of developing a serious infection after being attacked by a dog. Therefore, you should have your injuries treated by a doctor at once.
If you've suffered serious facial lacerations, you may want to have a plastic surgeon administer your stitches to reduce the risk of scarring and facial disfigurement.
Whenever possible, try and identify the dog's owner while you are still at the scene. This is very important since you'll need to know whether the dog has received all of its shots and vaccinations. In particular, you'll want to know whether the dog is current on its rabies vaccinations.
It's also a good idea to take these actions immediately after the dog bite attack:
- Write down the name and contact information of the dog's owner
- Take photos of the dog
- Take photos of your injuries prior to receiving medical treatment as well as after medical care is administered
- Write down the name and contact information of any witnesses who may be able to verify your version of the events
- Write down any other pertinent information such as what the dog looked like, the dog's breed, whether it was on a leash, and what if anything the dog's owner did to try and prevent the attack
- File a police report with your local county sheriff's office
- Notify the board of health and file a report with your local animal control office -- if the dog has a history of violent behavior on file with the animal control office, it will significantly strengthen your case
Strict Liability for Dog Bites
It is often not necessary to prove negligence when a dog bites someone that was not tormenting the dog and was not trespassing. This is because of a special Ohio statute that regulates the liability (legal responsibility) of a dog's owner, harborer, or keeper. All that is necessary in many cases is that the dog caused harm.
This is called strict liability and comes about because of the statutory scheme set by the Ohio legislature. However, even though this may sound simple, there are complex issues regarding who can recover under the statute, and whether homeowner's or renter's insurance will cover the loss.
In Ohio, it's also not always necessary for the animal to actually bite or attack you in order to hold the owner liable for an injury. For example, if a pedestrian becomes frightened of a barking or snapping dog and trips, falls, and breaks an ankle in an attempt to get away, the pedestrian may be entitled to recover compensation by proving the dog's actions caused the injury.
Possible Defenses in Dog Bite Cases
There are some situations where you may not be entitled to recover compensation after a dog bite attack. These include:
- If you provoked the dog in any way
- If you were trespassing on the dog owner's property
If you've been injured in a dog bite attack, please contact the Law Office of Anthony D. Castelli using the form on the right side of the page or call (513) 621-2345 today to schedule a free consultation. Mr. Castelli serves clients in Cincinnati and throughout Ohio.