Animal-related attacks and collisions are an increasingly common form of injury and cause of death in the State of Maine. In fact, a major insurance company has stated that dog bite victims suffer over $1 billion dollars in financial losses each year. Yet despite this, victims don’t always recognize that they can take legal action for the attack or collision.
If you’ve ever been a victim of an animal related injury you are well aware that you can suffer in a variety of ways- there are physical wounds and then there are long-term psychological scars. If you need an animal attack or dog bite attorney, the lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing know how to win animal injury cases and will get you the money you deserve to help you recover.
Animal Attack Injuries
Dogs are responsible for the vast majority of animal attacks. Over 70% of these attacks are by Pit Bulls, Rottweiler’s, their mixes and wolf hybrids. Dog bites can have serious consequences, including permanent disfigurement and psychological trauma. In extreme cases, they may result in death. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to know in advance whether a dog will attack, as even the nicest, gentlest dogs have been known to bite.
In most dog attack cases, the owners were aware their dog had behavioral issues. However, many owners mistakenly assume that if they stay in the same room as the dog, the dog won’t attack anyone. They couldn’t be more wrong- most attacks occur with the owners nearby.
Dog Bite Victim Statistics
Dog bites are more common, more damaging, and more expensive than people often realize.
Consider the following:
- Dog bite victims account for as much as 5% of all emergency room visits in the United States.
- The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay was $18,200, approximately 50 percent higher than the average injury-related hospital stay.
- Annually over 30,000 people undergo reconstructive surgery due to dog attacks.
- Adults living with two or more dogs are five times more likely to be bitten by a dog than those without dogs at home.
- Children between the ages of 5-9 have the highest rate of dog bite accidents.
Types of injuries and damages
The Maine personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing know that the long-term psychological effects of a dog attack can be devastating. Posttraumatic stress syndrome and animal phobias are significant for those who undergo any kind of animal attack. Plus, if reconstructive surgery is required, this can take years to finalize all the while dealing with the psychological trauma associated with disfigurement.
Hardy, Wolf & Downing help victims recover past and future medical expenses other losses such as:
- Counseling for emotional distress, fear of animals, and anxiety associated with outdoors
- Psychological counseling for dealing with disfigurement
- Loss of earnings
- Torn clothing and broken glasses
- Damaged property
- Pain and suffering
Who is responsible?
In Maine, owners are legally responsible (“liable”) for an animal bite. Even if the owner had no reason to believe that his or her animal was dangerous, if the animal bit someone, the owner would still be liable. A homeowner’s insurance policy, renter’s policy, or personal assets can all be used to pay for your pain and suffering if the owner or keeper of the animal is found responsible for your injuries.
Examples of valid animal injury cases where someone other than the owner or keeper of the dog could be held liable:
- The dog was under the care of another individual, like a dog walker, kennel owner or groomer.
- The dog’s owner or keeper is under the age of 18.
- The dog was on someone’s property, other than the owner or keeper, and they did not take some type of action to have the dog removed, they could be held liable for injuries that someone receives.
- For example, a 25-year old man kept his Rottweiler at his grandparent’s home during the day in an unfenced yard and left the dog unsupervised. The dog was known for harassing anyone walking by the home and sometimes lunging at people and other dogs. While it was owned by the adult grandson, the grandparents could be held legally liable for an attack simply because the dog was living on their property during the day.
Case examples nationwide:
- In a Vermont case, a small white dog was chasing a person on a bike while barking. The biker lost their control and fell, causing significant injury to themselves, their clothing and bike, even though the dog never touched the individual. The jury found the dog’s owner was responsible for $2,000 in damages for the victim and their property.
- In one New Hampshire case, a woman received 27 dog bites from two pit bulls while at a friend’s apartment building. She was in the hospital for two weeks and had $40,000 in medical bills and lost her job as a result of her hospitalization. On the basis of the common law duty to keep rented premises free from dangerous conditions, she sued the landlord of the building. A jury returned a verdict of $2.14 million.
- In a California case, a 5-year-old girl was playing at a neighbor’s house when their ½ pit bull terrier attacked her causing severe facial nerve damage. She was awarded $5,000,000 in physical and psychological damages.
Every animal injury case is different
The dog bite laws can be obscure and difficult to navigate. But the bottom line is whether or not the dog was known to be vicious, Maine law states that owners or keepers are accountable for harm caused by their pets to another person or to another person’s property. An experienced dog bite attorney from the team of Hardy, Wolf & Downing can assess the particular circumstances of your case and decide the best course of action for your personal injury lawsuit.
If you have been injured in a dog attack or from some other animal, the clock is already ticking in your case. Call right away.
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