In America, by far the most common kind of animal bite is from dogs. In fact, dog bites are one of the most common nonfatal injuries in the United States. Estimates of the annual number of dog bites vary considerably, generally within the range of 500,000 and 2,000,000. Children are often victims, and in some cases result in wrongful death.
Most dog bites are minor, but more serious bites can cause extensive injuries and require surgery. Many victims, especially children and people who had a fear of dogs before the bite incident, can suffer serious and lingering psychological effects.
In descending order of frequency, the parts of the body most commonly bitten are:
- The hand
- The head and neck (especially in children)
- The trunk
A bite actually consists of one or more of several types of injury to the victim:
- Tearing or ripping (“avulsion”)
- Lacerations or scratches
Dog bite wounds tend to consist of roughly equal numbers of abrasions, punctures and lacerations; there may or may not be avulsion of tissue.
Children and Dog Bites
Children are especially prone to being bitten by dogs. They are curious about animals and usually don’t understand the potential danger when it comes to strange dogs. They also may play too rough with dogs they do know, provoking a bite. The majority of dog-related attacks on children involve children in the range of 6 through 11 years old, with approximately 60 percent of all attacks involving boys.
When they do suffer bites, their injuries tend to be more severe than the injuries that adults suffer, for several reasons:
- Children are smaller, meaning that internal structures are closer to the surface and more readily reached by the animal’s teeth.
- Children are shorter, meaning that their heads and faces are closer to the dog’s mouth even if the child is standing.
- Children are less able to fend off an aggressive dog.
Maine Law on Dog Bite Liability
Maine’s approach to dog bite liability depends on whether the animal was on the owner’s or keeper’s property at the time of the bite. If so, you have to show that the bite resulted from negligence. If the dog was off that property, however, Maine imposes strict liability, with no need to establish a specific act of negligence.
In many cases, there are claims that the bite victim was also at fault, having done something that made it more likely that the dog would bite. This kind of contributory negligence by the victim doesn’t affect the owner or keeper’s liability in cases that fall under the strict liability standard.
There may also be circumstances in which the negligence of someone other than the dog’s owner or keeper causes a bite.
Damages You Can Recover
The victim can recover all the economic damages suffered as a result of the dog bite. Chief among them are current medical bills, future medical bills and any lost income. Any property that was damaged, including your clothing, can also be compensated.
A variety of noneconomic damages can also be recovered under the right circumstances, including punitive damages and damages for pain and suffering.
Legal Assistance in Recovering Monetary Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury in Maine
A serious dog bite injuries can be a serious burden to both the victim and the family. That’s especially true if the victim is a child and faces lengthy surgeries and rehabilitation for facial injuries. Medical bills mount quickly, the victim’s mental state adds to the anxiety and, in many cases, the insurance company for the dog’s owner or keeper denies liability or tries to minimize the damages. Some cases raise serious questions about whether someone really was the owner or keeper of the dog, and some raise questions whether the dog was on the owner’s property at the time of the bite.
The experienced dog bite attorneys at Jabar Injury Law can navigate the many legal points and speed the recovery of fair compensation. We’ve been successfully handling serious personal injury cases in Maine for 36 years. Other lawyers know that we know our business. So do the insurance companies.
Call today and tell us the details of your case. We’ll advise you as to your legal options. You only pay a legal fee after we recover the compensation you’re entitled to.