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What Are the Long-Term Complications of Dog Bites?

Every year, around 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. Many of these bites require emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, and follow-up care. Dog bites are damaging and painful and can often lead to long-term complications. These can include infections and nerve damage that leave victims with costly healthcare bills and emotional trauma, impacting their daily lives for years.

If you were bitten by a dog in Wisconsin, a Green Bay dog bite injury lawyer can help you file a claim against the dog owners for compensation. This can help you pay for initial costs related to the bite and any long-term complications.

Physical Complications of Dog Bites

Dog bites can cause a range of long-term physical consequences depending on the severity of the bite, the location, and the immediate treatment provided. These injuries can lead to high medical bills and lost wages due to the inability to work or perform the same physical activities.

The lasting physical consequences of dog bites include:

  • Nerve damage. Dog bites can penetrate the skin and underlying tissues, damaging nerves, especially in areas with dense nerve endings like fingers or the face. This damage can manifest as loss of sensation, chronic pain, or even muscle weakness. Nerve damage can require ongoing physical therapy and affect your ability to work, resulting in lost wages or job change.
  • Infection. Dogs’ mouths are teeming with bacteria. Even minor bites, if not cleaned and treated promptly, can lead to infections such as Capnocytophaga or diseases like rabies. Prolonged infections might require extended hospital stays, intravenous antibiotics, and regular check-ups, contributing to increased medical bills and time away from work.
  • Amputation. In severe cases with extensive tissue damage or a persistently untreated infection, you may require amputation of the injured body part, such as a finger, toe, or limb. Beyond the immediate trauma and surgical costs, amputations often lead to extended rehabilitation periods, the need for prosthetics, and potential job modifications.
  • Scarring. Most dog bites result in some level of scarring. Aesthetic concerns, especially for scars on visible areas like the face or hands, might necessitate reconstructive surgeries or dermatological treatment. Functionally, scars over joints can restrict movement, requiring physical therapy sessions. This can impede job performance, leading to reduced earning potential.
  • Chronic pain. Beyond the immediate pain of a dog bite, many victims experience lingering chronic pain long after the wound has healed. This can stem from nerve damage, infection complications, or the bite’s impact on muscles and joints. Managing chronic pain can require medications, regular medical check-ups, and sometimes specialized treatments— adding to ongoing medical expenses.

Emotional Long-Term Consequences of a Dog Attack

Dog bites, while immediately recognized for their physical harm, can also result in profound psychological consequences for victims. The emotional trauma from such an event often lingers, sometimes outlasting the physical injuries.

These psychological effects can manifest in the following ways, deeply affecting a bite victim’s daily life and well-being:

  • PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). After a traumatic event like a dog bite, victims may develop PTSD. This condition is characterized by recurring flashbacks of the incident, nightmares, and severe anxiety. Individuals with PTSD can become hyper-vigilant and constantly on edge. They may avoid situations or places that remind them of the attack, which can severely impact their daily functioning.
  • Phobia of dogs. A direct and often debilitating outcome of a dog bite is the development of cynophobia, a profound fear of dogs. This phobia can limit social interactions, hinder outdoor activities, and even impact decisions about where to live or travel, constraining a dog bite victim’s overall quality of life.
  • Anxiety. Beyond the specific fear of dogs, victims might experience generalized anxiety disorders. They may worry excessively about future events, experience muscle tension, or constantly feel on edge. This heightened anxiety can interfere with work, relationships, and leisure activities.
  • Depression. The trauma from a dog bite can lead to sadness, hopelessness, or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Depression affects a victim’s emotional state and can lead to physical symptoms like fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances.
  • Self-esteem problems. Visible scars or disfigurements resulting from the bite can erode a victim’s self-image and confidence. This diminished self-esteem can affect personal relationships and job opportunities and lead to social withdrawal. Even without visible scars, the memory of the event can make individuals feel vulnerable or embarrassed, affecting their self-worth.

Who’s Responsible for Dog Bite Damages in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, dog owners are legally accountable for injuries and damages caused by their pets. Wisconsin statute 174.02 states that:

  • Section (a). The dog owner is liable for the full amount of damages if their dog injures a person, domestic animal, or property. This applies even if there was no prior notice of the dog’s potential to cause harm.
  • Section (b). An owner may be responsible for twice the amount of damages if their dog bites someone, which results in breaking the skin and permanent physical scarring or disfigurement. This applies if the owner knew or had been notified of a prior incident where their dog injured a person without provocation.

If you suffer injuries due to a dog bite, you can hold the owners responsible with the help of a qualified dog bite attorney. This is usually done through a homeowners’ or renters’ insurance claim. These policies typically have a dog bite liability coverage between $100,000 to $300,000, meaning you could receive up to the policy’s limits.

If your long-term damages surpass these limits, the owner could be responsible for the remaining amount. Our experienced attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can estimate the full amount of damages you’re entitled to after a dog bite.

We can help you file a claim for maximum compensation to pay for the attack’s long-term financial, physical, and emotional consequences.

Get the Compensation You Need After a Dog Bite

Navigating the aftermath of a dog bite isn’t just about healing physical wounds; it’s about holding negligent owners responsible and receiving proper compensation. Let Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers protect your rights after a dog bite incident and help you seek a settlement that covers your physical and intangible losses.

Reach out to our dog bite attorneys today. We can review your case during a free consultation and help you get started on your dog bite compensation claim.

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