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Personal Injury

How Much Can You Sue for a Dog Attack?

By November 6, 2023No Comments

After suffering injuries and incurring losses due to a dog bite, you might immediately wonder how much you might recover from the dog’s owner. This is a complex question and an experienced dog bite injury attorney should handle the calculation.

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Dog Bite Injuries and Necessary Treatment

A German Shepherd dog biting a man's hand.Dog bite injuries can range from cuts and scrapes to severe wounds that require emergency medical attention. Understanding the common types of injuries and the necessary treatment is crucial for a swift recovery and, if applicable, pursuing compensation for damages.

Puncture Wounds

These are deep, narrow wounds caused by the dog’s teeth. They may not appear severe on the surface, but they can lead to infections or damage underlying tissues.

Puncture wounds often require thorough cleaning, removal of damaged tissue, and sometimes sutures. Antibiotics may need to prevent infection.


Lacerations are jagged, irregular wounds caused by the dog’s teeth tearing the skin. They can range from minor cuts to more serious injuries.

Depending on the severity, lacerations may require cleaning, sutures, and sometimes surgical intervention to repair damaged tissues.

Abrasions and Contusions

These injuries result from friction or blunt force, often due to the dog’s teeth or claws. Cleaning and disinfecting the wound, applying topical ointments, and monitoring for signs of infection are common treatments for abrasions and contusions.

Fractures and Dislocations

In more severe cases, a dog bite can lead to bone fractures or dislocations. Fractures and dislocations require immobilization, realignment, or, in some cases, surgical intervention. Physical therapy may need to rehabilitate the injury.


Dog bites can introduce bacteria into the wound, leading to infections. Common bacteria include Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species. Infections require prompt medical attention, often involving antibiotics, wound cleaning, and sometimes drainage of pus.

Nerve Damage

Severe bites can injure nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, or loss of function in the affected area. Nerve injuries may require surgical repair or other specialized interventions. Physical therapy and rehabilitation may also be necessary.

Emotional and Psychological Trauma

Dog bites can have lasting emotional effects, especially for children or those with pre-existing fears of dogs. Emotional support, counseling, and therapy can help individuals cope with the emotional aftermath of a dog bite.

If someone else’s dog bit you, the law often allows you to seek compensation for your losses. Some states hold dog owners strictly liable for dog bites, while others follow the one-bite rule or require you to prove the dog owner’s negligence.

No matter where the bite occurred and the applicable dog bite laws, consult a personal injury attorney with experience in dog bite cases to navigate the legal process and protect your interests.

Common Losses in Dog Bite Injury Claims

Dog bite injuries can have far-reaching consequences, affecting various aspects of a victim’s life. When pursuing a dog bite injury claim, a lawyer can explain the losses you may seek compensation for.

Below are some common losses that dog bite victims might claim, but to know your specific losses and their value, always seek an evaluation from a dog bite lawyer.

Medical Expenses

  • Immediate treatment: This encompasses emergency room visits, sutures, wound dressings, and any immediate medical care required after the attack.
  • Follow-up care: Ongoing medical treatment, including consultations with specialists, physical therapy, and rehabilitation, may be necessary to fully recover.
  • Medications: The cost of prescribed medications to treat and prevent infections or manage pain.
  • Surgeries and procedures: In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair extensive damage or address complications.
  • Psychological treatment: Therapy or counseling to address any emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from the attack.

Lost Wages and Income

  • Current lost income: If the injuries prevent the victim from working, they are entitled to compensation for the income they should have earned during their recovery.
  • Future earnings: If the injuries result in a diminished earning capacity or inability to work in the same capacity in the future, these potential future losses can factor in.

Pain and Suffering

  • Physical pain: Compensation for the actual physical discomfort, pain, and suffering experienced as a result of the dog bite.
  • Emotional distress: This includes anxiety, fear, emotional trauma, and any other psychological impact stemming from the attack.

Scarring, Disfigurement, Permanent Disability, or Impairment

  • Compensation for visible scars or permanent disfigurement caused by a dog bite, which is particularly common for small children, or bites to the face.
  • If the victim sustains a permanent disability or impairment that affects their daily life or employment, they can seek compensation for these lasting effects.

Loss of Enjoyment and Psychological Impact

  • Compensation for any diminished ability to participate in activities and hobbies previously enjoyed due to dog bite injuries.
  • Compensation for emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, or PTSD, which can have a significant impact on a victim’s quality of life.

Other Expenses

  • Reimbursement for any expenses incurred as a direct result of the dog bite, such as transportation to medical appointments, home care, or assistive devices.
  • Compensation to replace any property that sustained damage in the dog attack and required repairs or replacement.

Each dog bite case is unique, and the specific losses may vary. Consult an experienced dog bite injury attorney with experience in dog bite cases to evaluate your individual circumstances and pursue the rightful compensation you deserve. They will advocate for your rights and account for all applicable losses in your claim.

Calculating Non-Economic Damages for Pain and Suffering in a Dog Bite Case

In dog bite injury cases, victims often endure not only physical pain but also emotional and psychological suffering. These intangible losses fall under the category of non-economic damages. For economic damages, you have bills and receipts to prove the value of your losses. On the other hand, you do not have such documents to directly prove the value of non-economic losses like pain and suffering.

Calculating non-economic damages for pain and suffering is a nuanced process that involves several considerations.

Your attorney will consider the following factors, among others, to ensure you seek adequate compensation for your intangible losses:

  • Nature and extent of injuries The severity and extent of the injuries play a crucial role in determining the value of non-economic damages. More severe injuries resulting in prolonged pain and suffering generally result in higher compensation.
  • Duration of recovery The length of time it takes for the victim to recover from the injuries significantly impacts the value of non-economic damages. Prolonged recovery periods may result in higher compensation.
  • Impact on daily life Consider how the injuries affect the victim’s day-to-day life. Factors such as the ability to perform basic tasks, participate in activities, or maintain relationships can influence the calculation.
  • Emotional distress and trauma Emotional trauma, anxiety, fear, and any resulting psychological effects are significant components of pain and suffering. This includes PTSD and other forms of psychological distress.
  • Scarring and disfigurement Visible scars or permanent disfigurement resulting from the dog bite can have a profound psychological impact that your lawyer will take into account when assessing non-economic damages.
  • Psychological treatment and therapy The need for therapy, counseling, or psychiatric treatment to address the emotional aftermath of the dog bite factors into your non-economic damages.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life – Consider the activities and hobbies the victim enjoyed before the dog bite. It is part of the calculation if they can no longer participate in these activities or experience diminished enjoyment.
  • Impact on relationships Evaluate how the injuries affect the victim’s relationships with family, friends, and significant others. Your lawyer will take into account any strain or changes in these relationships.
  • Pre-existing conditions or vulnerabilities: If the victim had pre-existing physical or psychological conditions that the dog bite exacerbated, this may influence the calculation of non-economic damages.
  • Age and life expectancy – Younger victims may experience a longer duration of suffering due to their longer life expectancy, which can affect the value of non-economic damages.
  • Documentation and evidence – Providing thorough documentation of the pain and suffering endured, including medical records, photographs, and journals, strengthens the case for non-economic damages.

The subjective assessment of non-economic damages varies based on individual circumstances. However, these damages may form a substantial part of the overall compensation package, so you need a dog bite lawyer to get the calculations right.

Choose a skilled injury attorney with experience in dog bite cases to evaluate your specific situation and pursue the rightful compensation you deserve. They can provide professional guidance and advocate for your rights throughout the legal process.

Insurance Companies Will Undervalue Your Injuries and Losses From a Dog Bite

When you suffer a dog bite injury, it’s natural to expect the responsible party’s insurance company to adequately compensate you for your losses. However, always understand that insurance companies often have their own interests at heart and may attempt to undervalue your injuries and losses.

Insurance companies aim to minimize payouts to protect their profits.

To downplay the severity of your injuries or dispute the extent of your losses, they may try:

  • Disputing liability: The insurer may shift blame onto the victim, arguing that they provoked the dog or trespassed on private property.
  • Downplaying injuries: Insurance adjusters may downplay the extent of your injuries, especially if they did not immediately manifest or require long-term treatment. They might argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
  • Challenging medical treatment: Insurers may question the necessity of certain medical treatments, tests, or procedures, hoping to lower the overall medical expenses that require compensation.
  • Offering quick settlements: Insurance companies might offer a quick settlement shortly after the incident, hoping to resolve the claim before the full extent of your injuries and losses becomes apparent. These initial settlements rarely equal what you deserve.
  • Ignoring non-economic damages: Insurers may overlook or undervalue intangible losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Using comparative negligence: In states with comparative negligence laws, insurers may argue that you were partially at fault for the incident, which can reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
  • Offering inadequate compensation for future damages: If your injuries require ongoing or future medical treatment, the insurer may offer inadequate compensation, leaving you to cover the costs out of pocket.
  • Underestimating long-term effects: Chronic pain, emotional trauma, and long-term disabilities can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Insurance companies may not fully appreciate the lasting effects of your injuries.
  • Pressuring victims to settle: Insurers may use aggressive tactics to pressure victims into accepting a settlement quickly before they have had a chance to consult with legal counsel or fully understand the extent of their losses.

To protect your rights and secure fair compensation for your dog bite injuries and losses, consult an experienced dog bite attorney before speaking with insurance companies. They can present a persuasive claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and ensure that your claim accurately reflects the full scope of your physical, emotional, and financial damages.

By enlisting the support of a skilled attorney, you level the playing field and increase your chances of receiving the compensation you truly deserve. An attorney can navigate the complexities of your personal injury case, gather evidence, and advocate for your rights to ensure that the insurance company does not shortchange you. Make your well-being and recovery your top priority, and this includes full financial recovery.

Discuss Your Options With a Dog Bite Attorney

Russell Reiner, California Personal Injury Lawyer

Russell Reiner, Dog Bite Injury Attorney

A dog bite lawyer will understand the types of dog bite injuries and the full costs of their necessary treatments. If you are a dog bite victim, seek prompt medical attention and consult a proficient personal injury lawyer to make a significant difference in your healing process and pursuit of rightful compensation. Seek a free case evaluation today.

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