The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 4.5 million Americans suffer a serious dog bite each year. Even a minor bite from a small dog can be cause for concern for victims.
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An Illinois dog bite lawyer typically places an injury in one of six categories.
Any time the dog’s tooth breaks the surface of the skin, a puncture wound occurs. Punctures of less than half of the depth of the dog’s canines may cause heavy bleeding and scarring, but the wound is unlikely to cause permanent damage. If the depth is greater than half the depth of the canine, the wound may leave a deep scar or sever a nerve. Most puncture wounds are found in combination with other injuries.
An Illinois dog bite lawyer typically coordinates with a doctor to determine the exact depth of the bite and the secondary injuries a puncture caused.
Deep dog bites are often accompanied by crush injuries, especially for large breeds and any dog in the bulldog family. The dog’s jaw can generate more than 450 psi, which not only leads to painful bruising around the bite, but may cause deep tissue damage beneath the surface of the skin.
Crush injuries are most problematic when they occur to the hands or arms. Victims who attempt to protect themselves from an assault use their hands and lower arms to repel, the attack, exposing those areas of their body to additional damage. Injuries to muscles and tendons in the from the elbow to the hands may require an Illinois dog bite lawyer to seek compensation for long-term care and rehabilitation of the injury.
Facial lacerations are particularly frequent injuries for children and the elderly. When a dog attacks, the victim is unable to stand his or her ground, eventually falling. Each year dog bites account for at least 44,000 serious facial injuries to the soft tissues of the face, notably the nose, lips, and around the eyes.
A laceration can leave permanent scars that affect the victim’s appearance and self-confidence for the rest of their lives. An Illinois dog bite lawyer can seek compensation for these problems both through payments for reconstructive surgery and through pain and suffering awards. Furthermore, facial lacerations may require several surgeries to repair the damage. In children, the number of potential surgeries increases as the child grows older.
Victims fighting off a dog attack are not able to protect themselves from falling, so an avoidable fall can become a debilitating injury. Like facial lacerations, head injuries occur most often in children and seniors. Dog owners can be held liable for the injuries that a victim sustains while protecting themselves from a dog bite.
Head injuries do not always appear immediately after a dog attack. Symptoms of concussions might take several days to appear, especially in young children who are unable to communicate their condition effectively.
Contrary to popular belief, a dog’s mouth is not a hygienic place, and a dog bite exposes victims to several potentially deadly infections. In addition to the usual infections associated with cuts and injuries, dog bites present extra dangers.
- Rabies—Though largely eradicated in the general population, the transfer of rabies from animals to humans is always a concern. There are few treatment options for a rabies infection, and the virus spreads quickly.
- MRSA—MRSA is a form of Staph that is resistant to many traditional treatments. Many dogs are natural carriers of the disease, so victims should assume exposure after a bite. If left untreated, MRSA causes infections throughout the body, and can be fatal if it enters the bloodstream.
- Pasteurella—More than half of all dogs carry Pasteurella, though they do not shows an adverse symptoms. In the human body, Pasteurella may lead to joint problems and partial paralysis.
Infection treatments can include expensive medications, all of which must be calculated in the current and future medical expenses of the victim.
Illinois courts recognize that dog bites are not just harmful to the body, but can affect the mind. Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, frequently occurs in dog bite victims, who then find themselves unable to cope with the presence of other dogs in their lives. Victims develop deep anxiety about another attack, suffer from nightmares, and may experience flashbacks.
The cost of mental health is difficult for an Illinois dog bite lawyer to calculate, because victims may require treatment for the rest of their lives. Securing adequate compensation is often matter of experience.
Dog bite injuries can cause lasting injuries for which victims need long-term medical compensation. Correct categorization of the injuries and an understanding of the issues involved with each type of injury helps victims determine the level of compensation they need.