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How Serious Does a Dog Bite Have to Be to Sue Its Owner?

Dog bites are a serious public health issue across the United States. Over 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, with nearly 1 in 5 cases requiring medical attention or hospitalization.

No matter the breed, size, or gender, any dog is capable of biting, potentially leading to serious health issues, including bleeding, infections, and scarring. In Wisconsin, if a dog bites you, you have the right to pursue compensation from the owner. However, the question arises: when is the appropriate time to initiate the legal proceedings?

Learn about the risks of dog bites, what state law says about dog bite liability, and how our Green Bay dog bite injury lawyers can help.

Common Injuries from Dog Bites

When dogs feel threatened by humans, they attack the body parts they can reach most easily. A 2019 study found that from 2005 to 2013 in the U.S., 47.3% of bites were located on upper limbs, such as the arms and hands, and 26.8% were bites to the head or neck.

Common injuries and medical complications resulting from dog bites include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Emotional and psychological damage, such as cynophobia (fear of dogs) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Nerve damage
  • Bacterial infections
  • Infectious diseases, such as Capnocytophaga or rabies

If a dog bites you, seek medical attention immediately, even if you aren’t bleeding or don’t feel much pain. Even a seemingly minor bite may have lasting complications; it’s best to let a doctor examine your wounds, test for infections, and provide proper treatment.

When to Sue the Dog’s Owner

Under the Wisconsin Statutes (174.02), a dog owner is held responsible for any damages their dog inflicts on another person. You may consider taking legal action against the owner in the following situations:

  • Your Condition is Worsening: You can take legal action when injuries from a dog bite become more severe, leading to complications or increased pain. This ensures your compensation matches the full extent of the harm and its impact on your health.
  • You Have Medical Expenses: Hospital bills, treatments, and potential future medical care necessitated by the injury can become overwhelming. Suing the dog’s owner may be the most effective way to secure the funds needed to cover these extensive costs.
  • You Experience Emotional Distress: The psychological impact of the attack, such as PTSD, anxiety, or fear of dogs (cynophobia), justifies seeking compensation. These emotional consequences can impact your mental health and keep you from your everyday activities like walking or going to the park.
  • You Have Missed Time from Work: You can seek a settlement covering lost wages from missed work due to taking time off for recovery or medical appointments. It can also cover lost future earnings if injuries prevent you from returning to work.
  • The Dog Bite Impacts Your Quality of Life: When an injury affects your daily routines, hobbies, or well-being, you can seek financial compensation for the change in your quality of life.

Why You Should Consult an Attorney Immediately After the Accident

Contacting an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible after a dog bite incident can help protect your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. Our Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers team can evaluate your case, review your legal options, and advocate for your rights.

  • Collecting and Preserving Evidence. Our experienced dog bite lawyers can help you collect evidence to support your case. For example, we can obtain medical records, record witness statements, or acquire surveillance footage to show what occurred and the severity of your injuries.
  • Calculating Damages Owed. We can use all available evidence to accurately estimate the damages you’re owed. This includes medical costs, lost wages, and the pain and suffering you’ve experienced due to the attack.
  • Representing Your Interests. Our skilled lawyers negotiate on your behalf with insurance adjusters to obtain fair compensation. We can also help you prepare a legal strategy and represent you in court if needed.

Get Compensation for a Dog Bite Injury

Any dog bite can be serious, regardless of the animal’s size or breed. The legal team at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can help you hold irresponsible dog owners accountable and get a fair recovery award for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation and legal advice.

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