According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year. Of this number, 800,000 of these bites require medical care. Statistically, 1 out of every 73 people will experience a dog bite. If you have been injured as a result of a dog bite or attack, you may be wondering if you are able to sue the owner of a dog that bit you or injured you, especially if you needed medical attention from the bite or injury. You likely can receive compensation, but there may be complications regarding proving that the dog owner is legally responsible. That’s why you should consult with a Gulfport dog bite lawyer at Haug, Farrar & Franco, PLLC. Our Gulfport personal injury attorneys are ready to talk to you. Call us today at (228) 447-4684.
It is important to receive medical attention for any attack by a dog, whether it be a bite, a scratch, or a deeper wound, or even if the dog just ran into you and knocked you down. Some common injuries a person can receive from a dog include bruises, scrapes, rashes, puncture wounds, broken bones, eye injuries, head or face injuries, and neck injuries. Some more severe health consequences from injury can include bacterial infections such as capnocytophaga, sepsis, rabies, tetanus, and pasteurella, scars, disfigurement, torn ligaments, amputations, nerve damage, and even death.
If the wound is not severe, you may be able to treat it yourself by cleaning the wound and bandaging it. When in doubt, go to your nearest emergency room immediately for medical care.
If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit, it is necessary to document your injuries immediately. Take photos of the wound. If you received medical attention for the injury, ensure you retrieve your medical records for evidence. You may be able to sue for pain and suffering, so it will be beneficial to document the pain you experience daily in a journal. Additionally, if you saw or are seeing a therapist or psychiatrist after the attack as a result of the incident, these records will be important as well.
It could also be beneficial to document aspects about the scene of the attack. You should take photos of the location where the attack occurred, and make sure you collect information from any witnesses to the attack. It may even be beneficial to collect information from neighbors who might know the dog.
In Gulfport, Mississippi, a pet owner is not automatically liable for their dog biting or otherwise harming someone. Mississippi has a one bite rule, which means that the owner can only be held liable for their dog’s aggressive behavior if the dog gave a prior indication that it could be dangerous. An instance of how this rule applies would be if you were bitten by a dog that has bitten someone else before. In this case, you would be able to sue the dog’s owner for liability.
Some other behaviors that could constitute previous dangerous behavior could include growling, snarling, and snapping at humans. If your lawyer can prove that the dog exhibited these types of dangerous behaviors before biting someone, you may be able to recover damages. In general, an attorney must prove that the dog showed some kind of dangerous behavior prior to the attack, and that the owner should have known that their dog was dangerous based on its past behaviors.
Another aspect to Mississippi law is that negligence can be proven if the dog was released from its leash or allowed to roam an area without a leash while in an area where a leash is required, or in an area where dogs are forbidden. If an individual can prove that either of these events occurred, then the owner’s actions may be deemed negligent.
It is important to note that in Mississippi, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is three years from the date of the incident. If you fail to file the claim within three years, you likely forfeit your right to compensation.
A lawsuit could become complicated if the you were engaging in illegal or provocative behavior when you were bit, such as trespassing on the owner’s property or aggressively approaching the dog. The defendant could raise the defense that you provoked their dog, and that the dog would not have bitten you otherwise.
It can also be difficult to prove prior dangerous behavior, especially if this was the your only encounter with the dog. It will be beneficial to collect witness testimony from neighbors or other people who may know the dog. An experienced attorney can gather the necessary evidence to prove dangerous behavior so you can focus on your recovery from the bite.
Compensation for a dog bite or attack will vary based on the severity of the injury. In general, if you win your lawsuit, you will be compensated in the form of economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages can include compensation for medical bills and lost wages if you were unable to work due to recovery from your injury. They also include expenses for any rehabilitation you need to do in the future as a result of the attack. Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering and mental or emotional anguish. Non-economic damages are intangible and can be difficult to calculate, so it is beneficial to work with an attorney who has experience in calculating these damages. They will know an appropriate amount of compensation to ask for in your settlement.
It is important to note that Mississippi is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that a plaintiff can recover damages even if they are deemed partially at fault, but the damages will be reduced by the amount that they are found to be responsible for the attack and/or injuries. For example, if the settlement amount is $10,000 and the plaintiff is deemed 25% at fault, they would receive $7,500 in damages. The plaintiff can collect damages even if they are deemed 99% at fault.
Proving negligence is the most important and difficult part about winning a personal injury lawsuit involving a dog bite or attack. An experienced Gulfport dog bite lawyer can gather evidence and witness testimony on your behalf, especially if you are struggling with long-term medical or financial consequences from the dog attack. If you wish to receive the maximum amount of compensation possible for your injury, contact one of our qualified Gulfport personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.