Many people love dogs and other animals and enjoy having them as companions in their households. However, with owning these animals comes a grave responsibility to ensure that others are not injured by their actions. Animal bites are common occurrences that often cause legal difficulties for owners. In addition, your pet must also be protected from being bitten by other animals, whether neighborhood pets or local wildlife.
Legal Responsibilities of Animal Owners
It’s not only dogs that cause bites. Any animal with teeth could potentially cause an injury to a neighbor, guest or child that is visiting the household. Anyone who owns an animal is responsible for keeping it under control at all times when out in public. Whether the animal is kept on leash or in a type of pet carrier, the owner is responsible for maintaining adequate supervision of the animal at all times. The pet owner’s responsibility continues in their own home, with guests who may come to the home to visit. If your animal cannot be trusted around strangers or small children, you should put him in a separate room to ensure everyone’s safety.
Animal Bite Statistics
The American Humane Society states that 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. About 800,000 of these require medical care. Two-thirds of the bites happen on or somewhere near the owner’s property. About 50 percent of bite incidents involve children. Often, these incidents occur in children or even newborns. Insurance companies pay $1 billion in dog bite claims each year. Cat, ferrets and rabbits may also be involved in biting incidents, though at a lower rate than dog bites. Animals encountered in the wild also may be involved in biting incidences. Because some of these animals are at a high risk for rabies infection, it is important to get medical attention immediately. This advice also goes for your pet if bitten when wandering in the woods. Ensure that your pet is up to date on its rabies vaccination. If the animal is bitten, seek veterinary care immediately to protect your pet’s health.
Breed Specific Regulations
Many communities have enacted breed-specific legislation that excludes some breeds of dogs because of an idea that certain breeds are more prone to be involved in a biting incident. These laws are usually not based on any real statistics and are often just a reflection of peoples’ fears. These laws are expensive and difficult to enforce for these communities but may still cause difficulties with neighbors and civic officials. When looking for housing, research the regulations in the community to ensure that you will not be breaking any statute by having a pit bull, rottweiler or other targeted breed. Though any dog can bite someone, you can avoid running into legal trouble by complying with community standards. Your home insurance can also cost more if you have one of these breeds. Insurance companies often pay claims on dog bites and try to reduce their liability for certain breeds of dog.
Lawsuits Involving Animal Bites
If you or someone you know have been bitten by an animal you are entitle to file a lawsuit to recover expenses for medical care or other costs. If there are serious injuries, the animal may be put to sleep. This is why it is extremely important for dog owners to keep their pets under control at all times. Bites can cause serious damage to the facial appearance and can result in the need for expensive plastic surgery for which the pet owner will be liable.
Personal Injury Attorney David R. Heil P.A.
David R. Heil is an attorney with 29 years of experience in civil trial law. Your case will not be handled by an investigator, paralegal or case manager. He will personally meet with you to discuss your case at one of my offices, the hospital or your home. Legal information is available. His law firm representing dog bite victims throughout the U.S., is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, with offices in Winter Park, and Deland. For more information about David R. Heil, please contact us at (407) 599-2100