Every day, individuals fall victim to debilitating and unprovoked dog attacks. Even seemingly minor dog bites can cause serious complications or fatalities. Although any dog is capable of biting a person in the right situation, some breeds are statistically proven to be more dangerous than others. To make matters worse, it can be next to impossible to get a dog owner to admit that he or she is responsible for a dog attack, and it can be even more difficult to get dog owners to accept that they are liable for the damages caused by their dogs. In some cases, the victim of a dog bite may have provoked the attack, but understanding who is actually responsible requires the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help determine who is responsible and help the victim receive financial compensation for the damages incurred.
ER Visits from Dog Bites
Dog bite victims are certainly no strangers to the emergency room. According to statistics published in 2010 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the number of people who have been sent to ERs or hospitals has doubled since 1995.
The study found that an estimated 316,200 people were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for dog bites in 2008. That works out to nearly 104 ER visits per 100,000 people. Of those victims, 9,500 were admitted to hospitals for treatment, which is a rate of three people per 100,000.
The number of dog bite victims requiring ER or hospital treatment was not equally distributed among all demographics. Sex, age and environment seemed to play a part in who is most at risk. The majority of people who visited an ER for dog bites were men. Men were treated in emergency rooms at a rate of 110 per 100,000, and women were treated at a rate of 98 per 100,000.
The vast majority of dog bite victims were in the younger demographics. Just over 73 percent of victims going to ERs were under the age of 45 while 51 percent of those in the hospital were younger than 45.
The statistics show that most dog bites occurred in rural areas. Emergency room visits for dog bites in rural areas were four times more numerous than for dog bites in urban settings. In addition, approximately three times as many rural victims were admitted to hospitals than city victims.
The victims going to ERs and hospitals were also categorized by geographic region in the study. The highest rate of ER visits was in the Midwest at nearly 110 per 100,000 people. The next highest rate occurred in the Northeast where 109 people per 100,000 visited ERs. The lowest rate of ER treatment was in the West at 93 people per 100,000.
The study also revealed that hospital stays for dog bite victims were approximately 50 percent more expensive than stays for other injuries. The average cost for dog bite victims was $18,200 per stay, and the injuries being treated included infections, open wounds and fractures. Over 40 percent of these costs were paid through private insurance.
Non-Fatal Dog Attacks
Most dog bites are not fatal but can still cause serious injuries. The definitive study on non-fatal dog bites was published in 2003 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). According to the CDC, about 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs in a single year. Of those bitten, nearly 20 percent require professional medical treatment. In addition, over 31,000 people per year require reconstructive surgery following non-fatal dog bites.
An alarming number of non-fatal dog bites occurs among children. In 2001, approximately 42 percent of dog bite victims were under the age of 15. The highest rate of dog bites among all age ranges were children between the ages of four and 10, and most of those were boys rather than girls.
The most common non-fatal injuries were bites to the arms and hands at 45 percent. Nearly 26 percent of injuries were to the legs and feet. Although head and neck bites were the least common injuries among all age groups, at 23 percent, nearly 65 percent of children’s injuries were in this region of the body.
Deadly Dog Attack Statistics by Breed
A compilation of statistics originating from the United States and Canada between 1982 and 2011 shows that certain breeds of dogs are more prone to bite people than others are. One surprising fact obtained from these statistics is that three breeds are responsible for the vast majority of bites: pit bulls, rottweilers and wolf hybrids. Approximately 77 percent of all dog attacks were by these breeds, and 81 percent of attacks among adults were by them. In addition, these breeds were responsible for 68 percent of all fatal dog bites in the U.S. and Canada.
The breeds that caused the most fatalities, however, are not the same three that caused the most injuries. Full-blooded pit bulls caused the most fatalities during the time period of the studies at 207. Rottweilers were second at 78 and huskies were third at 22. Wolf hybrids came up fourth with 19 deaths. Other breeds responsible for fatal bites were bullmastiffs, German shepherds, akitas, chows and Doberman pinschers.
Getting Legal Help
It is understandable that dealing with attorneys is the last thing that dog bite victims and their families want to do, especially when they are still in treatment. However, professional legal counsel is often the only recourse for claiming compensation when those bitten are not at fault, and it is in a victim’s best interests to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the incident.
Victims of dog bites should never accept the blame for being bitten. An experienced attorney may uncover facts that were not readily apparent when the incident occurred. Many dog owners are quick to blame victims for provoking their dogs to attack, and they may try to hide important facts about their dogs’ behaviors or the specific situations. Instead of accepting the blame, victims should seek legal help. An experienced attorney will offer a free consultation, and if your case is accepted, it is usually on a contingency basis. This means no upfront costs are required to initiate proceedings, and the attorney does not get paid unless the victim receives a settlement or judgment for the sustained injuries.