According to the Insurance Information Institute, American homeowners’ insurance companies increased to over $700 million to resolve dog bite claims. Also according to the III, injury severity propelled this increase. The nature of dog bite injuries are much different from the nature of fall, car crash, or other negligence-induced injuries, as outlined below.
Legally, the environment for these claims is very favorable to victims, especially in Minnesota. The Gopher State has one of the broadest strict liability laws in the country. Section 347.22 of the Minnesota Statutes holds owners strictly liable for all animal attack damages. This law also limits the defenses that insurance companies can use in court. Moreover, many municipalities have very strict animal restraint ordinances. These laws often give victims additional legal options. An ordinary negligence claim might be available as well.
Each of these alternatives has its own pros and cons. Because of the complexity of these matters, only an experienced Brainerd attorney should deal with a dog bite claim. Otherwise, maximum compensation may not be available.
Physical Injuries in Animal Attack Claims
Typically, dog bite victims could sustain serious physical injuries at three different critical points. Compensation is available for all three kinds of physical injuries.
Especially if a large dog attacks a frail victim, as is often the case, the knockdown may cause a variety of wounds. When aggressive animals lunge at helpless victims, the resulting injuries often include:
- Broken bones,
- Head injuries, and
- Internal injuries.
Most of these injuries occur when the victim hits the ground. However, the motion alone might be sufficient. Head injuries are a good example.
Many people think that the brain fits snugly inside the skull, much like a person’s head fits snugly inside a baseball cap. But that’s not the case. The skull is basically a water tank which suspends the brain in a wash of cerebrospinal fluid. Sudden motions cause the brain to slam violently against the inside of the skull.
Next, when dogs bite, their teeth often cause both deep puncture wounds and severe tearing lacerations. The puncture wound often pierces internal organs. Since these organs have no protective skin layer, any intrusion may cause significant bleeding. Tearing lacerations often require expensive plastic surgery to repair, and even then, the resulting disfiguring scars are often permanent.
Medical situations like these are often complex. Health insurance companies often refuse to pay for emergency treatment. Even if they do pay, they often do not pay for animal attack injury specialists. So, a Brainerd attorney arranges for immediate medical care from top physicians at no upfront cost.
Finally, Pasteurella infections are common in dog bite cases. The Pasteurella infection rate in dog bite wounds is twice as high as the rate in other types of injuries. These infections typically cause additional pain. If the victim had a weak immune system, the complications could be even worse. Other types of dog bite infections include Clostridium tetani (tetanus) and MSRA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or Staph infections).
Bacterial and other infections often involve medical negligence. So, to obtain compensation for these injuries, a Brainerd attorney may need to take additional legal action against the hospital, clinic, or doctor who initially treated the injury.
Emotional Dog Bite Injuries
Physical trauma may not be the only kind of brain injury in a dog bite claim. Many victims, especially young victims, experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms following animal attacks. Some of these symptoms include:
- Unnatural fear of all dogs,
- Flashbacks, and
- Trouble sleeping.
These symptoms often make it difficult or impossible to function normally at work, school, home, or anywhere else.
PTSD is a physical injury, which means physical treatment is available. Extremely dangerous experiences, such as combat, erode the cerebral cortex. That’s the part of the brain which controls logical reaction. When this part of the brain shrinks, the amygdala (part of the brain which controls emotional responses) gets too large. So, victims have unnatural emotional reactions to seemingly harmless situations. And, they cannot control these reactions.
In PTSD and other similar cases, a Brainerd attorney can connect a victim with an experinced brain injury physical therapist. A combination of physical and nonphysical therapy often helps restore the balance between the cerebral cortex and the amygdala.
Some recently rediscovered footage of World War I shell shock victims shows what a difference the right physical therapist can make. Note that this particular victim does not get 100 percent better, as he still has tremors in both hands. But he is obviously able to function at a much, much higher level than he was before treatment.
Rely on an Experienced Lawyer
Animal attacks often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Crow Wing County and nearby jurisdictions.