Dog bites cause serious injuries in New Jersey every year and can even lead to death in some cases. Across the United States, about 1 in every 775 people per year seek emergency care because of dog bites.
Dog bites can be particularly dangerous for young children. Children under 10 years of age are often bitten on the head or neck area due to the proximity of these areas on a child’s body to a dog’s mouth. Boys who are between 5 and 9 years of age comprise the most dog bite victims.
Initial treatment of a dog bite should include washing of the area with soap and water as soon as possible. The wound should be irrigated with saline to prevent infection. The patient should be watched for signs of infection, which usually appear within the first 24 hours. Patients may be prescribed a course of antibiotics for up to two weeks.
Infectious diseases can be passed from dogs to humans through bite wounds. Medical providers may sometimes recommend that a rabies vaccine is administered to the dog bite victim. The decision about whether to administer a rabies vaccination is based on several factors, including the type of animal, the viciousness of the attack and the animal’s vaccination status.
Owners of a vicious dog may be held liable for medical expenses and other costs related to the injury. Some owners may allege that they did not know that their dog was vicious. In some states, an owner may be able to use this defense if the dog has never acted aggressive or bitten anyone before.
An attorney may be able to help claimants prove the extent of their damages and that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous. Victims of dog bites should be compensated not only for medical bills, but also for pain and suffering and any permanent disfigurement, like facial scarring.